News from the Aurora University community

Simms Family Foundation makes lead gift to George Williams College of Aurora University’s new nursing center

Posted by on February 24, 2017

Simms Family Nursing Center includes new state-of-the-art nursing simulation and skills labs, enhancing the innovative nursing undergraduate program

WILLIAMS BAY, Wis. — The Simms Family Foundation, represented by John and Michelle Simms of Lake Geneva, have made the lead gift to the George Williams College of Aurora University (GWC) nursing center, which will now be called the Simms Family Nursing Center.

The Simms Family Nursing Center will advance and support the college’s new four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program that will help meet the state’s increasing demand for better-qualified nurses.

“We’ve always been supporters of education and nursing,” said Michelle. “As trustees of Aurora University, we learned that GWC was planning to develop a unique, distinctive program. The college hit the bull’s-eye with the new Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree; what an exciting venture.”

“We are grateful for the support of the Simms Family Foundation,” said Aurora University President Rebecca L. Sherrick. “Thanks to their generous gift, the George Williams College campus boasts state-of-the-art nursing facilities that will serve our students for years to come.”

Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and approved for admission by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, the GWC BSN program is committed to providing an innovative educational experience designed to produce licensure-ready graduates.

“We believe this unique program will serve our community well by attracting both local and distant students,” said John. “Studying nursing at GWC will offer students a package unlike any other.”

“Future nurses can work diligently in the labs and classrooms, and then step outside to breathe the fresh air of Geneva Lake,” said Michelle. “GWC’s natural surroundings will remind students of their calling to help others become healthy and enjoy the world around them.”

The center includes state-of-the-art nursing skills and simulation labs to provide student nurses and faculty with cutting-edge learning and teaching environments, as well as faculty offices. The labs are developed to resemble a hospital care setting featuring high- and low-fidelity medical simulation manikins that function as live patients and respond in real time to the care administered by student nurses.

“It’s so exciting to see technology that mimics real life,” said Michelle, herself a registered nurse. “We didn’t have that option when I was in nursing school. In most BSN programs, you spend your first two years studying the sciences. It’s not until your junior year that you actually work in patient care. Through these new state-of-the-art simulation labs, the new GWC program introduces patient care during the freshman year. That extended experience will make GWC graduates stand out to employers.”

With 40.6 percent of the nursing workforce expected to retire during the next decade, Wisconsin alone will need 11,300 BSN graduates by 2025 to close the projected demand for highly qualified nurses, a shortage that will affect rural areas most severely.

“Our hope is that graduates will remain in Wisconsin, particularly Walworth County, serving the needs of rural communities.” John said. “With the forecasted shortage, the need for highly skilled nursing will be acute.”

For more information on the nursing program at George Williams College, visit or contact the Office of Admission at 262-245-8564 or To apply to GWC, visit

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George Williams College was founded in 1884 by YMCA leaders who sought to educate students for lives of service, with a focus on body, mind and spirit. Today, GWC operates as a campus of Aurora University, offering undergraduate and graduate programs. GWC’s degree programs are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission through Aurora University. Visit for more information.

Aurora University is an inclusive community dedicated to the transformative power of learning, annually educating approximately 5,000 degree-seeking students at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. The university has a long tradition of preparing students for lives of service and leadership, and using its resources and expertise to meet the needs of the community. In addition to its main campus and the Orchard Center in Aurora, Illinois, AU offers programs online, at its George Williams College campus in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, and at the Woodstock Center in downtown Woodstock, Illinois. Learn more at

Media Contact

Deborah Maue
University Communications