As many of you may know already, we experienced a great loss on Friday, March 16 with the unexpected passing of Dr. Mary Pat Kunert.
Mary Pat was a warm, caring person who felt passionately about undergraduate education and students. She chaired the CON undergraduate program committee for many years and was one of the strongest champions for our Nursing Endeavor Program. She was also a brilliant physiologist who was passionate about her research and the discovery of new knowledge to improve patient care. She was a conscientious and supportive research mentor and chaired many dissertation committees for our graduate students.
Despite her significant research and teaching activities, Mary Pat also always found time to participate in campus wide activities. She has been a frequent member of the University Committee and always brought her common sense approach, wry sense of humor and passion to both campus and college decision making. The Chancellor dropped by the college midday to honor her and lend his personal support to faculty and staff who were grieving. Mary Pat was that special someone who took all really important issues very seriously - and was willing to fight the good fight when needed - while never taking herself too seriously. She has made many significant contributions to the campus and the college and she will be greatly missed by so, so many.
Many are already asking how we, as a nursing community, might best honor Mary Pat. I am very pleased to report that the "Dr. Mary Pat Kunert Nursing Scholarship Fund" has been established. Seated as a designated account within the UWM Nursing Legacy Fund, this scholarship fund will support "first generation to college" nursing students to enable them to work less hours and dedicate more time to academics.
Support for these students is totally in keeping with Mary Pat's role as the greatest faculty champion for the UWM Nursing Endeavor Program.
This fund already has pledges of several thousand dollars and I am confident that we will be able to give a scholarship as soon as Fall, 2012. I think this would meet with Mary Pat's full approval and it will provide annual recognition for her significant contributions to nursing education over her long professional career.
Anyone who is interested in contributing to this fund can contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jennifer Clearwater (email@example.com).
I feel blessed to be in a environment where our community can come together to support each other in times of great stress and grief as well as during the happier times of celebration. We will all remember Mary Pat as a great contributor to creating such a climate.