IBM executive donates $100k to SVC nursing program

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BENNINGTON — Nicholas M. Donofrio, former IBM executive and last year's Southern Vermont College commencement speaker, has gifted $100,000 to the college's nursing program to support scholarships for new students.

Distribution of The Nicholas Donofrio Distinguished Nursing Scholarship funds will begin in the fall 2018 semester, and will be available to students entering the bachelor of science in nursing program, either as first-year or transfer students. The deadline to apply for the scholarship is March 30, and awardees will be notified, in mid-April, said the college in a press release.

"We are grateful for the opportunity this scholarship provides for students who otherwise might not have been able to attend a BSN program to achieve their academic and career goals," said Dr. Mary Botter, chairwoman of the college's Division of Nursing and Health Services. "With a shortage of BSN prepared RNs in the region and nation, this scholarship also serves to strengthen healthcare in our communities."

Donofrio, a native of Beacon, New York, joined IBM as an engineer in 1967. By the time he retired in 2008, he was the executive vice president of innovation and technology. He holds degrees in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Syracuse University. Since his retirement, Donofrio has worked to advance education, employment, and career opportunities for underrepresented minorities and women, according to SVC.

Donofrio received SVC's honorary doctorate of humane letters at the commencement address last year and also has honorary degrees from Polytechnic University (now NYU-Poly), University of Warwick, Marist College, University of Edinburgh, Pace University, National University of Ireland - Maynooth, and Syracuse University, where he is currently on the Board of Trustees.

"Nick Donofrio has been a leader in the innovations that underpin many aspects of modern information technology,"said SVC President David Rees Evans prior to conferring Donofrio's honorary degree. "Beyond that, he has been a tremendous supporter of higher education, bringing his business expertise and sharp critical eye to several boards and commissions, and helping to ensure that all students have access to college and to the STEM fields in particular. He has made outstanding contributions in both technology and education, and we are extremely pleased to honor his many achievements."

"[Innovation] is the opportunity that lays at the intersection of other opportunity, at the space where no one goes," Donofrio said at last year's commencement ceremony. "It's the intersection of things that have not been intersected before. Underneath it all, even though I know you're not engineers, everyone can be an innovator. It has little to do with an invention or technology or discovery. It can, but in the end, it's proven over and over again that it isn't. The more you know about the problem, the better innovator you're going to become. The more you start with the problem as opposed to the answer, the better innovator you are going to be, and that should be on your agenda."

"Don't forget, you live in a very small world if all you live in is where you are," he said. "Think about what is going on around us. There's going to be nine billion people on this planet soon. The bulk of them are going to be living at the base of the pyramid. The bulk of them have no desire to stay there. The bulk of them are going to work harder than you, to get out from there. That talent needs to be tapped, utilized, encouraged."

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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