Atrium dedicated to former dean Colleen Conway-Welch (News Around the School)

Frank Bumstead, and Dean Norman stand in front of wall in atrium with Colleen Conway-Welch portrait and name The atrium in the new $23.6 million Vanderbilt University School of Nursing building has been named after former dean Colleen Conway-Welch, PhD, FAAN, FACNM, who served as dean for 29 years and is credited with transforming nursing education at Vanderbilt and nationally. The Colleen Conway-Welch Atrium serves as the main entrance to the school at 461 21st Ave. S. and connects all four of the nursing school’s buildings together.

During a June 5 dedication ceremony, Norman thanked the trustees of Conway-Welch’s estate and the Colleen Conway-Welch Family Foundation for providing the funds for the atrium and for their vision for honoring the late dean. “We are most grateful for these gifts, which allow us to memorialize Colleen and her extraordinary life, leadership and dedication to Vanderbilt School of Nursing,” she said. Longtime Conway-Welch friend and trustee Frank Bumstead recalled, “Vanderbilt was the love of her life.”

The four-story atrium features a floor-to-roof glass wall and skylights that let in natural light, an artisan-crafted wall constructed with basswood from a tree removed from the site, a wide monumental staircase designed to encourage movement and interaction, various places for student study and student-faculty engagement, and an open, welcoming reception area. Conway-Welch’s official portrait by renowned artist Michael Shane Neal has been installed in the space.

“The atrium was created to be the centerpiece of our new building. It provides a place for the school community to gather, learn, work, eat and interact,” Norman said. “Colleen’s name is on the gateway to the school, nursing education and this communal space. It will be a forever symbol of her unforgettable generosity, dedication and legacy.”