Saint Joseph’s College received the largest capital gift by any individual in the Standish college’s 105-year history Saturday.

The $2 million gift was made by Jeanne Donlevy Arnold of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, to the college’s Center for Nursing Innovation. The gift will be used to address shortages in the nursing workforce in Maine and across the country.

Donlevy Arnold, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph’s in 1983 and is a university trustee, announced the gift as a surprise during graduation ceremonies Saturday. Earlier, she received an honorary doctorate in public service from the school.

She said her bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph’s opened new opportunities and enabled her to pursue a career in nursing. “Those opportunities turned out to be transformative and beyond all my expectations,” she said in a statement. “I am proud of how Saint Joseph’s College set my life on a new course so many years ago.”

Donlevy Arnold earned her bachelor of science degree in professional arts from Saint Joseph’s distance learning education program, now the online program. A retired senior vice president of Good Samaritan Hospital, she served as campaign chairwoman in the effort to raise $3.5 million to meet a $1.5 million challenge grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation for a Center for Nursing Innovation at the college.

College president James Dlugos said the new nursing center will be named in Donlevy Arnold’s honor. The Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Center for Nursing Innovation will offer five learning labs for hospital and home-care settings; $1 million in scholarships for Maine students; new offices and conference rooms; and the renovation and development of student labs.

In addition to the honorary degree that she received Saturday, Donlevy Arnold has received honorary degrees from the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences and Lebanon Valley College.

Board member Carol Strobeck praised Donlevy Arnold for her commitment to her profession and the school. “Your consistent commitment to nurses and the profession of nursing has led you back to your alma mater, where you are now helping Saint Joseph’s address one of our nation’s most critical health-care needs,” she said.

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