Rising to the occasion: it’s what Carolina nurses do best. With the reasoned judgment of those well educated and well prepared, they move toward the unfamiliar and make it their own—classroom or clinic, bedside, laboratory or community. It is a mind-set, an attitude and an approach, and sometimes—in the most unexpected circumstances—a transformative experience.
“If someone told me even 20 years ago I’d be taking leadership of the Campaign for Carolina Nursing, I wouldn’t have believed them,” said Margaret Ferguson Raynor, BSN ‘67, MEd, RN. “Carolina Nursing developed my leadership skills, and if you get those skills, you have a responsibility to give them back.”
Giving back includes Margaret’s generous campaign leadership gift: a $1,000,000 bequest to endow the Dr. Bobby C. and Margaret Ferguson Raynor Professorship in Nursing.
She announced her gift at the 50th reunion celebration for the class of ’67, a cohort of peers who have now become friends and fellow School supporters. Funds from the professorship will be used to attract or retain a distinguished teacher/scholar, synergizing the School’s top campaign priority with an ambition that took root for Margaret more than a decade ago.
A member of the University’s Board of Visitors from 2002–2006, Margaret sat in the audience as then-Chancellor James Moeser quoted an astonishing number. “He said that University-wide, we lost two-thirds of the professors we wanted to retain. The Board of Visitors began to look at what keeps professors at UNC-Chapel Hill: salary and titles, labs, the ability to take sabbaticals, go to conferences and give papers … I began to think of what I’d like to do. It makes a big difference in retaining someone if they hold a named professorship,” Margaret said.
In her more than 40 years as a psych nurse leader both at Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh and Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, Margaret understands the vital importance of developing people and their talents. She specified the professorship be open to all nursing disciplines and used where it’s needed most. “We should broaden minds and relationships. It is so much fun to watch people flourish,” she said. “Providing support is important to me personally, professionally and academically. We have a responsibility to help people function at their ultimate capacity. If you get good professors, you’re going to get good students, and vice versa. We have to help people develop their skills and stay on campus to teach and mentor the next generation.”
Margaret remembers the professors who taught her with a mixture of awe and affection. Med- surge professor Beverly Fussell Craig taught Margaret the summer between her sophomore and junior years. “She was very precise and wanted to be sure I was knowledgeable. She challenged me, I rose to the occasion and it gave me confidence.” Anne Fishel was her psych professor senior year. “She was so tough. She really pushed me to the limit, but she also taught me so many things about myself… forcing me to look at who I really was. She, like Bev, really helped me to develop and gain confidence in myself.”
Forty-plus years after that seminal Friday afternoon, Margaret was with Anne Fishel once again, this time enjoying her company. “Anne was having her 65th birthday and I said, ‘A bunch of psych nurses are going on a cruise to the western Caribbean. Why don’t you join us?’ She invited Bev Craig, so I had my two hardest professors on that cruise.”
This $1,000,000 professorship is one of many gifts Margaret and her husband made in support of Carolina Nursing. “In some ways, it is the culmination of years of Margaret’s support and volunteer activity,” said Anne Webb, assistant dean of advancement. “It is her signature philanthropy at UNC.” The gift also fulfills a principle Margaret held since childhood. “I was brought up in a well-educated family to think we had a responsibility to lead, said Margaret. “My mother graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Nebaska and quizzed us with the SAT book when we went on trips. We were not wealthy, but we were privileged to not worry about where our food was coming from…whether we would go to college or graduate school. We were brought up that it is our responsibility to give back.”
Margaret has been a volunteer leader within the School for many years: two terms as its foundation president (2002-2006, 2011-2014) and two terms as its director, (2001-2007 and 2009-present). She actively seeks opportunities to support her alma mater whenever it’s needed. With her husband, B.C., she named the Biobehavioral Laboratory in the new addition to Carrington Hall and in May 2011, established the Dr. B.C. and Margaret Raynor Graduate Scholarship in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. She honored Victoria Soltis-Jarret, director of the School’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMNHP) Program, with a discretionary expendable fund to be used as needed. The Cronenwett Doctoral Scholarship and the Building Fund also benefitted from her generosity. As much as Margaret Ferguson Raynor gives to the School, she says it’s less than she receives. ”It’s FUN! It’s fun to see the money get used and people be appreciative. It’s fun to see the money make a difference.”
“It is so much fun to watch people flourish.”