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Unveiling of Donor 'Wall of Honor' Celebrates School's Most Successful Capital Campaign Ever

October 12, 2015

E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA

With a dramatic unveiling of an illuminated “Wall of Honor” last night, University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece announced the completion of the School’s seven-year Campaign, “Transforming Medicine Beyond Imagination.” The Campaign, which raised more than $450 million for scholarships, global health and biomedical research, became the largest and most successful capital campaign in the School’s history.

“This is an historic celebration,” said Dean Reece, before leading the countdown to the unveiling. “These gifts are what make the difference in our ability to be innovative leaders in medicine. They are truly the difference in making this School a great institution.”

Dean Reece went on to highlight the powerful impact that philanthropy has had on research, education and clinical care. He also noted that the successful campaign occurred during a challenging time economically. “This is remarkable considering the economic climate of the country during this time period,” said Dean Reece, who is also Vice President of Medical Affairs, the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor at UM SOM. “However, amidst state budget cuts, shrinking endowments, furloughs, a hiring freeze, and reductions in federal funding, we remained undaunted and you, our donors, have helped us achieve this historic milestone in our fundraising efforts.”

In, all, the campaign totals were impressive:

  • Total contributions of $454M are nearly twice the amount raised in any previous campaign
  • More than 17,000 donors contributed to the campaign
  • 250 individuals, organizations and corporations gave $100,000 or more – their names now illuminated on the Wall of Honor
  • 67 individuals contributed $1 million or more.

Of the total, more than 70 percent of the amount ($353M) raised is going to biomedical research, including gifts from foundations, organizations, and corporations, as well as individual gifts to support research. These funds are critical to continue the school’s groundbreaking discoveries, and to pursue large collaborative projects such as the Brain Sciences Research Consortium Unit (BSRCU) and Personalized and Genomic Medicine, according to Brian J. DeFilippis, MS, Associate Dean for Development as well as Special Assistant to the Dean.

He also noted that 30 endowed professorships were funded or pledged during the campaign, a 75 percent increase in the total number of endowed professorships and chairs. There are currently 70 endowed professorships and chairs in the School of Medicine.

“The $36 million raised for endowed professorships in this campaign will provide the financial means for the School to recruit and recognize leading physician-scientists — those who inspire students, advance the frontiers of knowledge, and make discoveries that change people’s lives,” Mr. DeFilippis said, But more than numbers, the celebration was about bringing hope to patients and their families, enabling students to pursue their dreams and providing opportunities for leading physicians and scientists to make groundbreaking and lifesaving discoveries through research. Throughout the evening, guests heard compelling and often emotional stories from those who generously contributed to the campaign and those who are forever grateful for the support.

“This is a ‘Wall of Honor,” but it also a ‘Wall of Hope,’ said William F. Regine, MD, FACR, FACRO, the Isadore & Fannie Schneider Foxman Endowed Chair and Professor in Radiation Oncology at the School of Medicine, as well as Executive Director of the Maryland Proton Treatment Center He noted that his endowed professorship, made possible by the Foxman endowment, enables him to lead the School’s efforts to treat cancer patients with the latest technology, including the new Maryland Proton Treatment Center, which will be one of the most advanced cancer treatment centers in the nation when it opens in 2016.

“We are talking about gifts on this wall that enable life-changing experiences,” said Harry Knipp, who served as a campaign co-chair and whose family has graduated five generations of doctors from the UM SOM. “Certainly, the scholarship I received changed my life and my family’s life, and now I hope to change other people’s lives.”

Also among the speakers was Hamish Osborne, who was treated by University of Maryland School of Medicine physicians for pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive lung disease that kills 40,000 Americans a year. His wife, Christine, introduced him, saying, “He is a miracle.” Mr. Osborne replied, “I don’t know if I am a miracle, but certainly the treatment I received from the University of Maryland was miraculous!”

Mrs. Osborne added that, more than anything, the surgeons at the University of Maryland School of Medicine gave them hope. “We are very excited about helping to establish the new Program in Lung Healing at the School of Medicine where we can hire the best doctors, the best researchers, and bring that same feeling of hope to many, many more families.”

The Osborne’s have also funded the Hamish S. and Christine C. Osborne Professorship in Advanced Pulmonary Care, which is held by Aldo T. Iacono, MD. Dr. Iacono was among the many physicians at the School of Medicine who treated Mr. Osborne.

Student scholarships are also an important aspect of the campaign. Of the 117 endowed scholarships held by the School of Medicine, 52 were created through outright gifts and pledges during the campaign, an 80 percent increase. The new scholarships totaled $11 million.

Amy Zheng, a student at the School of Medicine who is due to graduate in 2018, talked about how a scholarship, funded through the campaign, allowed her to pursue her dream of becoming a physician. When Zheng was 18, she was involved in a serious accident, and spent three weeks recovering at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. “It was really rough,” she said. “Medical bills are expensive. Money that would have gone to medical school went to medical bills. Money was tight.” Paying for medical school would have caused financial hardship for the family, she said.

But with help from generous donors, she received a scholarship. “The day I found out about the scholarship was one of the happiest days of my life. It was the biggest burden off my back,” she said. Last summer, she actually studied with the surgeon who treated her when she was a patient in the hospital.

“Medical school,” she said, “has been an incredible experience for me.”

Mr. DeFilippis closed by thanking the many campaign leaders who made the historic night possible, noting the tireless work of co-chairs Robert Fischell, ScD, Frank M. Calia, MD, MACP, Professor Emeritus in Medicine, and Harry C. Knipp, MD ’76, and many other alumni and friends.

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