Fairfield, CT- With a gift of $350,000 plus a matching grant challenge through the Kanarek Family Foundation, alumna Robin Kanarek, of Greenwich, has been invaluable in helping Fairfield University’s School of Nursing reach the financial goals it needed to fully equip the School’s Learning Resource Center, a state-of-the-art educational facility located on campus. In recognition of her generosity, a dedication ceremony took place today to officially announce that the Center has been named the Fairfield University School of Nursing Robin Kanarek ’96 Learning Resource Center.The School of Nursing’s Advisory Board, a development focused leadership group chaired by Nancy Lynch, P ’96, of Greenwich, has been instrumental in raising funds for the Learning Resource Center, which is a simulated hospital environment where undergraduates and graduate students learn and practice basic to advanced nursing skills in a risk-free, hands-on environment. Given the changes in the health care system including the influence of technology, nursing students require innovative and interactive learning opportunities. The fully equipped Learning Resource Center provides an environment that excites and engages faculty and students in their teaching and learning. These experiences ultimately enable students to perform at higher levels when working with patients, improving the quality of care.For years, Kanarek had hoped to finish up the B.S. in nursing degree she began as an undergraduate. So it was that after her two children were in school, she enrolled in Fairfield’s Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program. She graduated in 1996. “Fairfield had an excellent reputation, and I’ve since found that the Jesuit traditions stay with you for life,” she said.
It’s that Jesuit tradition of giving back to others that has perhaps influenced Kanarek most strongly. She’s been on the School’s Advisory Board since its inception in 2005, a position she finds exhilarating. “I’ve been on boards before at which the purpose is just to make sure the job gets done,” she said. “This is different.”
She continued, “Our meetings are absolutely energetic. Everyone has an idea of where things should go, and every idea is received excitedly.” Kanarek is quick to point out that the Board has done as much for her as she has for it. “For me, being on the Board represents a lot of healing,” she noted. “After we lost our son David [to acute lymphocytic leukemia], I wasn’t sure I could even move back from England to Connecticut, a place that represented so much pain. I had no expectations when I joined the Board. But the leadership and the brainstorming that goes on is so exciting that I look forward to each meeting. I’ve been able to do the things I’ve wanted to do to honor David’s memory. It’s been a very healing experience.”
Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, said that she is grateful to Kanarek, the Board and the numerous contributors who have helped make the Learning Resource Center a reality. “The result is that we have cutting edge classroom and lab spaces that are fully equipped with sophisticated teaching tools and technology that are helping to educate our students, so they are prepared to provide the best in patient care.” Dr. Novotny emphasized that the School of Nursing faculty have been essential in bringing the project to fruition by integrating simulation-based teaching throughout the nursing curriculum.
Suzanne H. Campbell, Ph. D., WHNP-BC, associate professor of nursing and project director, and Diane Mager, CRN, MSN, director, manage the Learning Resource Center. Dr. Campbell said watching students grow in self-confidence and gain experience in the performance of nursing and leadership skills and techniques has been extremely fulfilling. The equipment is authentic to a clinical setting, such as a hospital or assisted living facility, she noted. There’s an array of simulation equipment – such as Laerdal’s ‘SimMan,’ ‘SimBaby’ and ‘Vital Sim Anne’ – that prepare students to work in a variety of areas such as intensive care units, emergency rooms, and obstetrical and neonatal care units. Using simulation-based teaching allows students to integrate nursing skills, critical thinking, and communication. The Learning Resource Center will help prepare students for the increased acuity level of patients, staff shortages, and shifting role of the nurse in the present health care delivery system.
Robin Bennett Kanarek and her husband, Joe, established The Kanarek Family Foundation to honor the memory of David, and they have implemented other projects in his memory. Kanarek’s family and Connecticut State Representative, Christel Truglia, established “David’s Treasure Tree” on the pediatric unit of the Stamford Hospital. Since its opening, it has been extended to The Child Guidance Center in Stamford; and in 2005, Kids in Crisis of Greenwich opened another extension of David’s Treasure Tree called “The Branch.” Robin serves on the board of The Stamford Hospital Foundation and The Thumbelina Fund in Stamford. She also serves on the board of the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Foundation. The University’s Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies was founded in 1994 with an initial endowment from Carl and Dorothy Bennett. Robin and Joe are the parents of a daughter, Sarah.
For more information about the School of Nursing, visit www.fairfield.edu or call 203-254-4000, ext. 4150.