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Redbirds Rising: Mennonite College of Nursing

Illustration of a Redbird rising

As Ella retched into the pink plastic basin once again, tears streaming down her face as she sobbed from the pain and nausea, Ella’s mother, Kate, was so grateful for the warm, gentle touch, and kind words being whispered into her daughter’s ear. The nurse softly stroked Ella’s bald head while she was sick. Kate thought to herself, “We never could make it through this illness without nurses.”

Ella and Kate are not alone. On a daily basis nurses provide a soft and caring touch to patients in numerous inpatient and outpatient settings. Nurses are there for their patients, offering a compassionate touch coupled with cutting-edge, technology-based care.

The Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) has many recent accomplishments. Our graduates are known for their expertise in the field of nursing and their high level of care. We believe that innovative teaching is the key to greater impact in the health care field. Clinical simulation is integrated into the curriculum through scenarios that link education with technology along with solid teaching and learning principles. The important work of MCN is contingent on adequate funding to keep pace with the changing health care climate.

Through Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State, the College will be able to compete for the best students, faculty and staff, as well as offset the cost of preparing nurses to meet society’s health care needs with care and compassion while increasing leadership in the health care field.

“We have the momentum, making now the time for the University to rise to even greater heights,” Judy Neubrander, Ed.D., FNP-BC Dean, Mennonite College of Nursing. “Our actions today will build an even stronger Illinois State University tomorrow.”

There are multiple ways to support the Mennonite College of Nursing within key funding categories:

  • Prepare nurses for the transformation of healthcare: Nursing is a rigorous major that challenges the best students, requiring precise technical skills, strong critical thinking, and the ability to adapt to a changing healthcare landscape while keeping patients’ needs at the forefront. The College relies on scholarships to enroll exceptionally prepared and diverse nursing candidates. Each year scholarship applicants’ total unmet financial need is more than $1.5 million, which means students take on substantial debt and are forced to juggle work and classes. Endowed scholarships, either merit- or need-based, are essential to maintaining our affordability and ability to attract talented students.
  • Attract and retain top faculty: There is a nationwide shortage of qualified nursing faculty. Several MCN faculty are nearing retirement; the average age of our tenured faculty is 61. Salaries in nursing education are not competitive with equivalent clinical opportunities. Endowed professorships can help the College attract and retain gifted, dedicated faculty to teach and mentor tomorrow’s nurses and nursing leaders, as well as pursue innovative research and lead community health initiatives and partnerships.
  • Reinvent our learning spaces: Providing state-of-the-art equipment and learning spaces will allow our nursing students to experience realistic health care encounters, and practice high-risk skills in a low-risk environment. Our learning simulation lab strives to be a place of innovation and creation. Future additional space will provide better opportunities for inter-professional partnerships for a variety of nursing roles including wellness and disease prevention.
  • Promote a national model for nursing education: Health care is moving out of the hospital and into the community. To make the most of changing times, the College must be able to respond quickly when opportunities arise that can benefit our students and faculty while enhancing our reputation as a leader for healthier communities. Generous, ongoing support for the College’s annual fund and other unrestricted resources can provide the flexibility needed to turn rapid change to our advantage.

Join fellow alumni and friends in supporting MCN through Redbirds Rising. Your generosity will keep MCN on a path to continuous improvement.

Contact MCN director of development Jennifer Sedbrook to learn more about Redbirds Rising and discuss how you can support your passion in the Mennonite College of Nursing. You may reach Jennifer at or (309) 438-7178.