Safran’s $1M gift will create nursing professorship at UNCG 

A health care entrepreneur and nurse who has taught countless American Heart Association Lifesaving courses, Susan Morris Safran ’77 knows firsthand how important it is to have excellent teachers. Now, she is bolstering the already exceptional standard of faculty excellence at UNC Greensboro’s School of Nursing.

Safran has pledged $1 million to establish a new UNCG professorship. The Susan Morris Safran Distinguished Professorship in Nursing will be dedicated to a professor who will teach, engage in scholarship, and provide community service to improve patient outcomes with focus on the continuum of health care.

“With UNCG School of Nursing’s stellar faculty, the Safran Distinguished Professorship in Nursing will bring one more excellent professor to join the rest,” Safran says. “This is my way of giving back to the faculty who inspired me and to the students who want to be inspired.”

“We are very excited about the Susan Morris Safran Distinguished Professorship in Nursing,” says School of Nursing Dean Debra Barksdale. “Susan has been a good friend and distinguished alumna of the UNCG School of Nursing. This professorship will help us to recruit, retain, and/or honor a professor as they go about their normal excellence in teaching, scholarship, and community service.”

Safran, who earned her BSN at UNCG in 1977, is currently co-chair of UNCG’s comprehensive Light the Way campaign, set to transform the University by strengthening student access, academic excellence, and the tremendous impact of the University’s programs.

Her impact as an engaged alumni leader and generous supporter of UNCG and its School of Nursing goes back decades. She served on the UNCG Board of Trustees for 10 years and was its chair from 2014 to 2016. During her tenure as chair, she led the search committee that brought Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. to UNCG. She was also instrumental in promoting and planning UNCG’s Nursing and Instructional Building, and she championed the construction of Union Square Campus, a state-of-the-art setting to educate nurses through a remarkable partnership between Cone Health, Guilford Technical Community College, North Carolina A&T State University, and UNCG. 

Many students have benefitted from her philanthropy at UNCG. Susan and her family established the Safran Family Endowed Scholarship – a merit scholarship – which as part of the Minerva Scholars Program supports a UNCG student from any field of study.

Additionally, the Safrans have established two funds in UNCG Nursing. The Susan Morris Safran Scholarship in Nursing so far has been awarded to eight unique students, and an endowed program fund in support of the School of Nursing Veterans Access Program was named in honor of her stepfather, a patriotic WWII Navy Veteran, and her mother.

With this new professorship, Susan helps elevate the School of Nursing faculty and their high level of teaching and research.

“Susan’s own experience at UNCG helped influence not only her understanding that professors who inspire others are invaluable, but also her marked commitment to service,” notes UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “Her extraordinary generosity strengthens UNCG’s Light the Way campaign pillar of excellence and is particularly meaningful given the current shortage of nursing faculty nationwide. Susan’s gift will have a profound impact on the health and well-being of North Carolina’s citizens for generations to come.”

Her career as a nurse included stints at Wake Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center, and Rex Hospital. In 1988, she founded a small business to provide American Heart Association (AHA) CPR training to medical and dental offices. By the time she sold CPR Consultants Inc, it was training nearly 45,000 people per year to perform this life-saving emergency procedure. A longtime resident of Raleigh, she has been active with the NC American Heart Association, serving as Chair of the AHA NC Advocacy Committee. She received the NC Advocate of the Year Award from the American Heart Association in 2006.

She received, last year, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award from Governor Roy Cooper, in honor of her legacy of outstanding public service through her years of dedication to the nursing profession, front-line health care workers, and institutions of higher education in our state.

“I am proud to help lead our Light the Way campaign and to create a new professorship to continue to elevate our tremendous University,” she said.

Light the Way: The Campaign for Earned Achievement seeks to double the number of endowed professorships at UNCG. Visit for additional information.