Paul & Veronica Gross

Nursing Lectureship Inspired by COVID-19 Care Challenges

Paul Gross is no stranger to how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected health care professionals. He earned his master’s degree in health administration in 1964 from what is now the VCU College of Health Professions and retired after 20 years as the president of Humana’s hospital division.

Health care also happens to be a family tradition. His wife Veronica is a registered nurse, and one of their daughters is a retired nurse practitioner. Another daughter is an associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Florida School of Medicine. Paul and Veronica are proud of their grandson, currently in his fourth year of medical school, as well as their granddaughter, who is a child life specialist at Fort Worth’s Cook Children’s Hospital, and their son, who is CEO of Broward Health’s Imperial Point Hospital in Broward, Florida.

Last year, the Gross family recognized a troubling challenge and strain being placed on nurses during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The dynamics of care and demands placed upon health care providers became a day-to-day conversation topic for us,” Gross recalled. “Every day, all day long, in the papers and on television, we could see and feel the toll the pandemic and the fears associated with it were having on hospital nurses.”

Gross reached out to Jean Giddens, Ph.D., RN, dean of the VCU School of Nursing, during the height of the pandemic. He and Veronica have been generous supporters of the school in the past, and they wanted to do something more to support nursing education on the MCV Campus.

“Our students possessed the necessary clinical and scientific skills to face the demands and challenges that they were faced with,” Gross said. “However, it was apparent that they would need buttressed strengths beyond those skills — emotional resilience, strength in their passion and commitment toward nursing, and strength in communication skills to patients, families and their team members.”

Paul and Veronica Gross believe nursing education needs to be bolstered beyond the pandemic to address the everchanging role and demands of the professional registered nurse and everything that graduates will confront as they enter this new world of professional nursing.

“We wanted to create a teaching opportunity for senior nursing students by establishing a lecture series featuring skilled and experienced professionals who can offer master classes on those essential traits beyond the scientific course material,” Gross said. “Our hope is that this will contribute to their educational support and help nurses develop the endurance and resilience needed when facing such challenges and demands like the pandemic.”

Gross hopes the series will help the School of Nursing continue to achieve high rankings among institutions of nursing education and continue to meet the professional nursing and educational needs of Virginia and beyond.

“Nursing care is the measuring stick that drives the institutional loyalty, maintains its census and its quality-of-care ratings,” Gross said. “I hope this lectureship will continue the School of Nursing’s strength in this area for generations.”

If you would like to support the School of Nursing’s efforts to educate tomorrow’s nursing professionals, please contact Pam Lowe, senior director of development, at 804-827-0020 or