Fairfield Celebrates Grand Opening of New Center for Nursing and Health Studies
Hundreds of years ago, the land on which the brand-new Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies stands was home to countless trees that filled the property, providing shade and shelter to the area’s wildlife. After growing tall and strong, the trees would give back to the earth all of the nourishment they benefited from when they were living.
Now, the same plot of land will prepare students to leave the Egan School to go out into the world as health care professionals, giving back to the world the knowledge, love and care they learned in the same space. And with the Kanarek Center for Palliative Care Nursing Education, students will be all the more prepared to provide holistic, patient-centered care in their future healthcare careers.
On Saturday, Oct. 21 in the new Egan School, a ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the new 70,000 square-foot, four-level, modern facility, and blessed the faculty, students, and staff who will teach and learn within its walls. On hand to commemorate the Egan School’s official opening were Dean Meredith Kazer, PhD, APRN, FAAN, as well as William P. Egan, ’67, a former Fairfield trustee, and Robin Kanarek, BSN ’96, Fairfield trustee and alumna.
Named in honor of his mother, Marion Peckham, Egan shared that his mom would have been “humbled” to have the school named in her honor. But more than anything, Egan said that helping to make the new nursing and health studies facility a reality was much more about its purpose for students than it was about building an edifice with his family name on it.
“I am thrilled to provide a building,” he said, “but buildings don’t create greatness. People create greatness.”
Thus, Egan requested that all in attendance make the Egan School “better, greater, and more excellent” to not only honor his mother, but “keep Fairfield rising.”
While the new school symbolizes a massive step forward for Fairfield, for Kanarek, the opening of the palliative care center will also be the culmination of a 15-year mission she adopted following the loss of her son, David, to cancer.
As David battled cancer, he often struggled to get the kind of care he needed and desired, a function of only being able to discuss his treatment with a psychiatrist. But after David’s death, Kanarek met a nurse who specialized in listening to the needs of dying children and opened her eyes to how educating nurses and healthcare professionals in the art of communication can improve the patient experience and their quality of life.
Now, with the goal of the Kanarek Center for Palliative Care Nursing Education aimed at doing just that, Kanarek said she hopes the center will give students the tools to make a difference in the lives of patients, giving them the care she can only wish her son had.
“At Fairfield, because it is a Jesuit institution, there is a big emphasis on the emotional and spiritual element of care, and I am just thrilled with that,” she said. “I do this to honor my son’s memory and hopefully other people will benefit from what we’ve done — and that will bring me a lot of joy.”