Golisano Foundation gifts $5.8M for developmental disabilities nursing program

October 31, 2018 12:07 AM

St. John Fisher College announced a brand new program Tuesday thanks to a $5.8 million gift from Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation.

It's the new Golisano Institute for Developmental Disabilities Nursing.


It's the brainchild of Dr. Dianne Cooney Miner who is the founding dean of the Wegmans School of Nursing. 

The aim of the new institute is to transform the quality of care and support for people with developmental disabilities.

"I went from being rejected and not included, to being accepted in a world of diversity," Cori Piels told an audience at St. John Fisher College Tuesday.

Piels' life is an example of hope for the new Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing.

As a disabled child living in an orphanage in India, Piels says she was unwanted and rejected. Then, a couple from Brighton adopted her.

She later began to compete in the Special Olympics. Piels now has a job and lives on her own, thanks in part to the confidence she gained from the Special Olympics and the support of her family.

"Special Olympics teaches us to accept all human beings no matter what their disability, race, gender or religion," says Piels. 

Dr. Cooney Miner is also a vice president at St. John Fisher College, however, she began her career as a nurse. She noticed there are numerous health care programs available for children with developmental disabilities, but nothing for adults.

"So the health screenings that we've come to expect, the work around managing chronic illness and staying healthy...there's a big gap," she said.

Dr. Cooney Miner's vision is to not only educate and prepare current nursing students but nurses everywhere. So like Piels, eventually people with developmental disabilities will no longer be ignored or rejected. 

"Developing a cadre of scholars who will come here, to the institute, where they will learn special skills and knowledge, learn the importance of advocacy, of public policy and then head out to wherever they came from, and establish centers of excellence there," said Dr. Cooney Miner.


Lynette Adams

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