Spillane receives nursing advocacy award

October 12, 2017

John J. SpillaneJohn J. Spillane, of Wayzata, received the University of Minnesota School of Nursing’s Richard Olding Beard Award today. The award, presented by Dean Connie White Delaney, recognizes a non-nurse whose foresight, wisdom and advocacy for the nursing profession have led to better health care for all.

Spillane, a School of Nursing Foundation Board member and business executive, has served as a tireless advocate and volunteer helping the school remain at the forefront of nursing education. His work with the school began with the establishment of the Elva Walker Spillane Leadership and Innovation Fund in honor of his late wife, a nurse and school alumna. Spillane founded National Purity Soap and Chemical Co. in 1967. Today he serves as board chair for National Purity, LLC.

“Jack is a steadfast partner with the school,” said Dean Delaney. “His spirit of service and his capacity to bridge our collective mission to improve health with the interests and passion of many is profound.”

Richard Olding BeardRichard Olding Beard, MD, established the first continuously operating nursing program founded in a university. Beard was a physician at the University of Minnesota in 1908 when he proposed the creation of the School for Nurses. The Board of Regents approved the plan and established the first nursing program founded in a university in the United States. Until this time, all training and preparation for nurses occurred in hospitals in an apprenticeship model and lacked education in sciences, liberal arts and the opportunity to practice skills outside of a live patient setting. Beard recognized the need for higher-level education for nurses and for women. 

Spillane is only the second recipient of the award. Frank Cerra, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Medical School at the University of Minnesota, received the award in 2009 during the School of Nursing’s Centennial Celebration.