All 78,262 donors who made a commitment to the U in fiscal 2012 have powerful stories about what inspired their giving. While we can’t highlight them all, here’s a selection of gifts and their impact that reflect the remarkable generosity donors displayed in areas of shared passion and opportunity.
Donors help prepare tomorrow’s leaders
As the state’s only comprehensive research university, the U of M maintains an intellectual environ-ment unlike any for miles around. Scholarships and fellowships created by donors help attract the brightest undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students. In 2012, donors committed $60 million to support students, including more than $46 million for scholarships and $11 million for fellowships. Two of the largest U-wide scholarship programs—the Dave Larson Scholarship and the Bentson Family Scholarship—received significant additional gifts this past year. Student support remains the top priority of U of M President Eric Kaler.
Defeating childhood diseases
Every kid deserves a childhood free of life-threatening illnesses, and gifts made this year are advancing research to defeat two devastating childhood diseases. A $4 million gift made through the Children’s Cancer Research Fund will establish the Suzanne Holmes Hodder Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research to transform the treatment of childhood cancer. A $500,000 gift was presented to the U of M by Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher and his family to search for a cure for Franconi’s anemia. The Fishers’ young son suffers from the rare genetic disease that will require a bone marrow transplant. After looking for the best care, the Fishers chose the University of Minnesota.
Specialized Pediatric Dental Clinic
The dental needs of disadvantaged kids and those with severe health issues have been on the rise. Up until now, our region has not adequately met the demand. The new U of M Pediatric Dental Clinic, made possible by Delta Dental of Minnesota through a $3.5 million gift, aims to offer expanded care to kids and their families. Its location, adjacent to the Amplatz Children’s Hospital, will enable U dentists to provide dental care to patients also being seen for serious conditions such as cancer. The facility will also be a place for medical students to learn in a clinical setting.
Improving children’s literacy
Kids who can’t read are less likely to find their path to success. Not only is reading essential for getting the most out of school, it can be a doorway into a more meaningful life. The U’s College of Education and Human Development is coordinating multiple partners around a project to ensure students read at grade level by the end of third grade. A $1.6 million commitment from Target supports the effort, which addresses the needs of students on a literacy continuum, including ESL learners and special needs students.
Amundson Hall expansion
Demand is high for the U’s esteemed Chemical Engineering and Materials Science program—one of the best in the world. The need is great to engage more faculty and enroll more students to begin the search for more life-changing solutions. The department’s home, Amundson Hall, will be renovated and expanded to allow more undergraduate and graduate students into the program, and to hire more faculty. New laboratories, more meeting space, and a state-of-the art materials lab will enhance the environment for education, innovation, and discovery thanks to $10 million from alumnus Robert W. Gore and $5 million
Healthy Communities Innovation Center
Electronic health records and mobile technologies have changed the way healthcare providers, including nurses, communicate. In addition, nurses now provide more home-based care than ever before (an estimated 50 percent of all care). Nursing education has to keep up with changes like these. Supported by a $3.65 million gift from the Bentson Foundation, the School of Nursing is building the Healthy Communities Innovation Center. It will simulate healthcare settings—hospitals, emergency rooms, long-term care facilities, and patients’ homes—that reflect environments nursing students will be working in when they graduate.
Vision for UMD Medical School
As it celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Medical School at the University of Minnesota Duluth has developed a bold vision for the future, and donors have supported it through the Next Generation Fund. The fund will help cover the cost of equipment, mentoring programs, and valuable student opportunities in international education, the simulation lab, and community-based labs. An anonymous donor made a stock gift of $1.5 million—the largest realized gift in the school’s history—to lead the effort.
Drug discovery and development
For millions, therapeutic drugs save lives and improve the quality of life. Yet, much more needs to be done in areas such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. The U of M is poised to be a major player in developing new therapeutic drugs, but with so many people suffering from acute and chronic diseases, there is an urgent need to get effective drugs to market quickly. Commitments of $1 million from alumni Duane and Glen Engebretson and Lyle Bighley will help the College of Pharmacy open up a more efficient “pipeline” for development of life-changing drugs.
Advances in brain research
Using electrical stimulation of the brain to treat addiction and redirecting stem cells to repair stroke-damaged brain tissue are just two promising research projects benefitting from a belief in untested ideas. The work is supported by the Winston and Maxine Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Fund through a second-year commitment of $500,000 to support the pursuit of novel ideas by U neuroscientists. The fund also has helped the U garner a larger share of federal research dollars and speed up the process of moving lifesaving research from the lab to the bedside.
New sculpture garden at the Arboretum
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s reputation for beauty will be enhanced with the installation of some two dozen pieces of sculpture donated by Alfred Harrison and Ingrid Lenz Harrison. The collection, valued at around $3 million, is the newest addition to sculptures in the arboretum gardens—the Harrison Sculpture Collection at High Point—and a must-see for visitors on the popular Three-Mile Drive. The sculptures hail from countries around the world, and each comes with a unique story that will be displayed along with the work of art.