Alumni Commit More Than $10.5 Million to Wake Forest School of Medicine, Challenging Others to Match or Exceed Gift

December 16, 2011

Seventeen alumni and their families collectively have committed more than $10.5 million to Wake Forest School of Medicine. The group, representing current and past Medical Alumni Association (MAA) leaders, challenged the other members of the MAA Board of Directors to cumulatively match or exceed the gift with commitments of their own over the next year.

The MAA Legacy Leadership Challenge gift was announced during the MAA Board’s fall meeting on Nov. 4. Drs. Merrill Hunter, Joel Miller and Allen Van Dyke, three of the nine past presidents to participate in the challenge, presented the gift to John D. McConnell, M.D., chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and Edward Abraham, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine.

The other alumni contributors were Drs. Eugene Adcock, Thomas Blackburn, Douglas Boyette, Samuel Britt II, Joseph Estwanik, Douglas Fein, Gloria Graham, Caryl Guth, Charles Harr, Brenda Latham-Sadler, Hamp Lefler, Joe Overby Jr., Jim Puckett and Robert Vann.

The money will be directed based on each donor’s individual interests. Approximately 60 percent of the total is designated for student scholarship support and approximately 40 percent for innovation in research and teaching. The gift was made in advance of a capital fundraising campaign being planned for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“Institutions like ours are either merely good or superior based on the quality of the people involved—their students, faculty and staff,” McConnell said to the group. “We’re a very good institution, but with the generosity we’ve seen with this gift, we have the opportunity to become a truly great institution, thanks to this support. We’re very grateful.”

In presenting the check to Drs. McConnell and Abraham on behalf of the group, Van Dyke, a member of the medical school’s class of 1971, called the gift commitment a “down payment” on the MAA’s contribution to the coming capital campaign. He said the group was motivated “because this school has been good to us, because we believe in this school, and because we love it and want to continue to see it prosper.”

Miller, a member of the class of 1974, cited the scholarship he received as a student as one of the reasons he contributed.

“Just about everything I have and my whole professional life has resulted from being at this institution,” Miller said. “I was in school here because of the generosity of others. I came here on a scholarship; my parents could not afford to send me. That’s played an important role in my career and in my decision to give to this institution.”

Hunter, from the class of 1978, said, “We can give back to humanity by being good doctors, but also by being good philanthropists and giving to worthy causes. This is a worthy cause.”

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