NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences Paves a New Path Forward, Flagship Building Named with $5 Million Gift
Iona University Announces $5 Million Gift and Naming of the Kelly Center for Health Sciences
Iona University is proud to announce that the flagship building of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences will be named the Kelly Center for Health Sciences in honor of benefactors Alfred F. Kelly Jr. ’80, ’81MBA, ’19H, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa, and Peggy Kelly ’81, ’84MBA.
In making a $5 million gift to Iona, the Kellys said they are happy to invest behind the vision of President Seamus Carey, Ph.D., and his colleagues to help jumpstart the University’s new campus in Bronxville, N.Y.
“Giving today is increasingly about investing, and this felt like the right time, place and effort to invest behind,” the Kellys said in a joint interview. “It is an incredible feather in the cap of Iona University to be partnered with NewYork-Presbyterian and we believe it will lead to the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences being one of the top schools in these important fields of study.”
The nearly 32,000-square-foot Kelly Center for Health Sciences is set to open in January 2023. Located on the former campus of Concordia College, which Iona acquired in May 2021, the newly renovated building spans three floors and features the most modern equipment, spaces and amenities. Notably, the entire top floor is dedicated to recreating a hospital setting, complete with simulation labs, exam rooms and training equipment on the cutting-edge of the industry.
“I am so grateful for Al and Peggy’s incredible generosity in naming the Kelly Center for Health Sciences,” Carey said. “The knowledge and training that will emanate from this building will be transformative not only for our students and their families, but for the individuals and communities they will serve. The future is bright at Iona, and the Kelly Center for Health Sciences will be a beacon for all those who feel called to serve others through these fields.”
Alfred F. Kelly Jr. ’80, ’81MBA, ’19H, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa, and Peggy Kelly ’81, ’84MBA.
Established in July 2021 and supported by a $20 million gift, the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences offers a new vision for collaborative education, modern workforce development and community care. NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently ranked one of the nation’s best hospitals and is also a leader in medical education in collaboration with two renowned medical schools: Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The Kellys are keenly aware of the amazing things happening at NewYork-Presbyterian. One of their five children, Kaitlin, battled two bouts of cancer at the hospital, and Mr. Kelly has served on the Board of Trustees since 2005.
“In our opinion, it is the finest academic medical center in the world and is fortunate to be led by an incredible person in Dr. Steven Corwin. The doctors, nurses, administrators and other health care professionals are the best and the patient experience is simply awesome,” the Kellys said. “Our charitable support has always been focused on education, the Catholic Church and health care. The NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences is a union of all three areas of focus for us.”
Dr. Steven Corwin, NewYork-Presbyterian president and CEO, congratulated the Kellys on the naming of the new building, adding his excitement for all that is still to come.
“The collaboration between NewYork-Presbyterian
and Iona University will help to ensure that the next generation of health care professionals is highly skilled, well trained and compassionate in their care of others,” Corwin said. “I am so pleased that the anchor of these efforts will be the Kelly Center for Health Sciences. Thank you to Al and Peggy Kelly for their remarkable generosity and support.”
On a personal note, the Kellys began their relationship at Iona in December 1977, when they went to an Iona basketball game and bonded over common interests. They were both the oldest in their families, commuted to Iona and worked part-time to help pay for expenses. Peggy majored in accounting at the former Hagan School of Business; Al studied computer and information science at the School of Arts & Science. Both also earned a Master in Business Administration at Iona. Forty-five years later, you can still see the Kellys sitting courtside as longtime season ticket holders.
Reflecting on the legacy that the Kelly Center for Health Sciences will have at Iona, they said the building is justa structure. What matters most are the students who will emerge transformed by the education they’ve received within.
“The legacy will be the nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, physician assistants and many others, and the work they will do to assist in the treatment of people who find themselves requiring care,” the Kellys said. “The field of health care is a calling, and we hope that thousands of Iona University students go on to share their calling by helping to save lives and make lives better for many.”
Flagship Building of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences Set to Open January 2023
Leading The Way
Kavita R. Dhanwada, Ph.D.
Kavita R. Dhanwada, Ph.D., has joined Iona as the founding dean of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences. Previously serving as founding dean of the Borra College of Health Sciences at Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., Dhanwada seamlessly transitioned into developing Iona’s new premier school in collaboration with one
of the nation’s top hospitals.
“The appointment of Dean Dhanwada is an important and exciting step forward in the process of establishing the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences as a new center of educational excellence,” said Steven J. Corwin, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian. “Together, we will train generations of highly qualified, truly passionate health care professionals who are equipped to rise and adapt to new challenges.”
Aligning with Iona’s interdisciplinary approach, Dhanwada’s experience has focused on promoting interprofessional education to build practical knowledge through experiential learning. Notably, she introduced
a new degree to Dominican University, a Bachelor of Applied Science, and developed a new undergraduate major, a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness. Other collaborative innovations include working with nursing faculty to develop an online RN to BSN degree completion program.
Previously, Dhanwada was associate provost for Academic Affairs and dean of the Graduate College at the University of Northern Iowa. She also held the title of associate dean for the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences. Prior to that, she served as a department head, faculty fellow and a long-standing Department of Biology faculty member.
She received a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in microbiology/immunology from Loyola University of Chicago.
DIRECTOR OF NURSING Sherylyn Watson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, CNE
Iona recently welcomed Sherylyn Watson, Ph.D., MSN, RN, CNE, as director of nursing and associate dean of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences.
As nursing director, Watson spearheads Iona’s rigorous, values-oriented nursing program. Watson also serves as the first associate dean of
the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, offering a new vision for collaborative health care education, modern workforce development and community care. In this new role, Watson collaborates with NewYork-Presbyterian to provide opportunities for students to learn from top professionals in state-of-the-art facilities, while offering unparalleled access to clinical placements and full-time career opportunities with one of the nation’s top hospitals.
“I am thrilled to be at Iona during such a transformative time,” said Watson. “Many things attracted me to the University and this position, one being the opportunity to develop new programs with an interprofessional educational focus. I look forward to continuing to explore and implement new ways to prepare our future health care workforce to save lives and change the world.”
Watson previously served as associate dean of Academic Affairs in the Davis & Henley College of Nursing at Sacred Heart University. Under her leadership, the undergraduate nursing program experienced a 400 percent increase in class size due to Watson’s dedication to maintaining high academic rigor while launching new programs to meet student needs. Her guidance led to a 95 percent or above NCLEX pass rate for a decade.
Watson’s experience has also stretched internationally, developing educational opportunities abroad in countries such as Ireland, Australia, Jamaica and Ghana.
Watson received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Fairfield University, Master of Science in nursing from Quinnipiac University and Ph.D. in nursing education from Capella University.
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