$500K Gift Establishes Patricia Sweeney Professorship at YSU
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Amy Weaver, an associate professor in the Centofanti School of Nursing at Youngstown State University, has been named the inaugural Patricia McGovern Sweeney Professor in Nursing.
The professorship was established through a $500,000 gift from Douglas Sweeney and his daughters – Carolyn Sweeney Berry, Andrea Sweeney Wagner and Alexa Sweeney Blackann – in honor of his wife and their mother, Patricia, and her lifelong career in nursing.
The professorship was bestowed upon Weaver by Mrs. Sweeney at a ceremony in YSU’s Cushwa Hall on Friday.
“It means so much to me to bestow this upon you,” Sweeney said to Weaver as she placed the professorship medallion around her neck. “You have had such a wonderful career and you care so deeply about the underserved.”
The professorship is the latest gift in the Sweeney family’s tradition of philanthropic support of YSU, which now exceeds $1 million. Douglas Sweeney’s father, Robert, was the naming benefactor of Sweeney Hall and the Sweeney Welcome Center on campus in 2001. Other family gifts have supported scholarships, athletics and the arts.
“We thank the Sweeney family for their continued commitment and support of YSU and our students,” said YSU President Jim Tressel said. “This gift will forever call to mind Mrs. Sweeney’s life of hard work and dedication to the health of our community.”
Mrs. Sweeney was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing from YSU and a master’s of public health and Juris Doctor degrees at the University of Pittsburgh. Mrs. Sweeney spent a total of 26 years pursuing her education.
She began her career as a staff nurse in the oncology unit of St. Elizabeth Hospital in 1979. Throughout the ensuing 40-plus years, she was committed to improving community health, holding leadership positions in home care and hospice and in community health planning efforts.
She served on numerous local, state and national boards and was the first female Mahoning County health commissioner, during which time minority representation on her staff grew by nearly 20 percent.
She and her team secured more than $3.2 million in local, state and federal grants to institute innovative programs to address black infant mortality, women’s and children’s nutritional needs, housing and transportation needs, opiate use and more.
In 2020, Sweeney retired as health commissioner, but her service to the community continued as a member of the board of directors of Mercy Health of Youngstown and the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.
She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the University of Pittsburgh Faculty Scholar Awards, YSU Nursing Alumna of the Year, a national Balderson Award, Ohio State University Champion of Public Health Award and the Kresge Foundation Emerging Leaders in Public Health Award. She also was the recipient of the 2017 ATHENA Award.
Weaver, who joined YSU’s faculty in 2003, teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and has a passion for research, especially related to the community and elderly. She has taken a leadership role in the graduate research program and will develop the new doctoral anesthesia research project curriculum.
Weaver taught nursing in the community for many years, reflecting the focus of Sweeney’s work in public health and as Mahoning County health commissioner.
Her plan for the funds includes providing health screenings and care to underserved populations where they live in the community by utilizing nursing and other health profession students, including nurse practitioner students.
Pictured at top: Alexa Sweeney Blackann, Doug and Patricia Sweeney and Amy Weaver, the inaugural recipient of the Patricia McGovern Sweeney Professorship.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.