Chancellor Karla Hughes of the University of Arkansas at Monticello announced a landmark gift to the institution Thursday night at the School of Nursing Graduate Recognition Ceremony.

It is the second-largest single gift in the university’s history – an estate gift worth an estimated $1.5 million. The donor, Raylene Steelman, left UAM the vast majority of her estate with the specific intent of providing nursing scholarships. She wished to remain anonymous until her death. A Warren High School graduate, Steelman worked at the university as a librarian for 37 years. Her interest in providing nursing scholarships was sparked by the quality of care she received from UAM nurse graduates late in life. Steelman passed away April 12 in Monticello at age 96.

Dr. Brandy Haley, dean of the UAM school of nursing, explained that the gift would provide around $70,000 per year in perpetuity for nursing students. “This gift will enhance UAM’s reputation as the premier educator in the health sciences,” Haley said. “Growing interest in our program means it will get even more competitive, and that adds value to the degrees you have earned,” she told graduates.

UAM offers Associate of Applied Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Nursing, in addition to LPN-to-RN, LPN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN tracks.

CNA and LPN programs are also offered at its Colleges of Technology in Crossett and McGehee. Monticello campus graduates have a 100% job placement rate, and their BSN pass rates have cons in high 90 percentiles in the last few years. The McGehee LPN program has achieved a 100% NCLEX (licensing exam) pass rate for each of the last six years, a feat unmatched across other LPN programs in the state.