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News Release

New Scholarship at FHSU Honors Longtime Nursing Professor's Teaching Career

Dr. Eileen Curl, along with her husband, Don, have established the "Dr. Eileen Deges Curl and Don Curl Nursing Scholarship" to provide financial assistance to nursing majors at Fort Hays State University. She contributed greatly to the nursing profession with a career at Fort Hays State that spanned 21 years, serving as a professor of nursing and director of graduate nursing.

"At an early age, I was taught to help others,” Curl said. Growing up on a farm and going to school in Grainfield, she learned from her parents how to work hard, serve others and value education.

The Curls' deep-rooted ties to Fort Hays State go back several generations. Long before Don Curl earned his business degree in 1973, his grandmother had attended Fort Hays Normal School (later renamed Fort Hays State University) and his mother had worked as a supervisor in McMindes and Agnew Halls.

Eileen Curl earned her nursing degree from Marymount College in Salina and joined Fort Hays State in a faculty position in 1981. "My first teaching assignment at FHSU was to teach the foundation nursing course where students learn fundamental knowledge and skills regarding the nursing profession," she said. "Clinical experience for the course involved students caring for nursing home patients at Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Ellis, where Don and I met."

She explained that she enjoyed scientific information and had always enjoyed caring for others, so nursing was the perfect combination of both. "There is always new scientific or research-based information related to nursing and healthcare, so nursing continues to be interesting," she said. "Nursing has been a good career choice as I can work in a variety of areas, whether it be in a hospital, community setting or in academia."

Curl viewed her students as the hope for the future of nursing and the provision of excellent patient care. "I always enjoyed seeing the 'light bulbs' go off in students' minds when they understood a new aspect of nursing," she said. "And seeing students at the recognition ceremony at the end of the program was also a favorite time because the faculty could see how far our nursing students had come in their knowledge and achievement of their goals," she added.

Participating in the creation of the Master of Science in Nursing program was one of the biggest changes in FHSU's Department of Nursing, as well as one of Eileen's favorite memories during her tenure.

"Having an MSN program available to nurses in western Kansas meant a lot to me because I grew up in rural western Kansas," she said. "My own mother had wanted to be a nurse, so she was pleased when I chose nursing as a career. I knew the MSN program could ultimately have a positive impact on patient care in rural areas."

But it is Eileen's long-lasting impact on students that truly crowns her career.

"Dr. Curl had a huge impact on me during my time in the FHSU nursing program," said Kathleen Ward, assistant professor of nursing and a recipient of the FHSU Faculty of the Year Award. "I was a single mother with two children, and I reached a point where I was very frustrated and didn't think that I would ever be able to get through school. Dr. Curl was the type of instructor who helped you see the whole picture -- not just what you could understand -- and in that way helped you make the best decision possible. I would not be where I am today if she had not stepped up and been present in my life. She will never fully know the impact she had on me."

The Curls decided to establish their scholarship after meeting FHSU's new president, Dr. Mirta M. Martin, and catching the new vision that she had for Fort Hays State. "We were impressed with President Martin's philosophy of valuing students and their families. She is an inspiring person and we support the future that she sees for FHSU," Eileen Curl said. "We believe that her administrative style encourages the FHSU family to support students in meeting their educational goals.

"Additionally, we want to support students, especially those in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and MSN programs. Student scholarships are such a great way to invest in students and what they can contribute to our future. By providing scholarships, students can work less and spend more time on their studies. We all need nurses, and having the best nurses possible will benefit each and every one of us."

For Eileen, the future of the nursing profession depends on what students learn in the classroom and throughout their clinical experience.

"A great nurse is smart and maintains current knowledge about patient care. A great nurse is also a patient advocate, cares about patients and includes family members in the caring process," she said. "Integrating new research in nursing courses shows how important it is for nurses to continue learning about the latest in their field. Teaching students how to access this new research is also important to ensure that they will have this skill-set after they graduate. I always tried to model caring by viewing the world from the students' perspectives and demonstrated caring for my students from this viewpoint. Nurses need to see the world from a patient's point of view, and teaching students to see the patient's perspective is important."

Creating a scholarship at Fort Hays State is easy. Whether out of a passion for a specific department or academic program on campus or to honor an individual's contribution to the university and community, scholarships make a world of difference for students at Fort Hays State University.

To learn how you can support students at Fort Hays State, please give our FHSU Foundation office a call at 785-628-5620 or email us at