COLUMBIA — The MU School of Medicine announced Friday that it has received a substantial gift for its department of family and community medicine.
The undisclosed gift amount from Curtis W. and Ann H. Long means the department can further help teach, research and provide better ways to reach rural communities through medicine.
The amount of the donation remained undisclosed out of respect for the Longs’ wishes, said Hal Williamson, chair of the school’s family and community department.
Curtis Long, who graduated from MU’s medical school in 1963, has worked in the rural town of Butler for more than 40 years.
“If you support the community, they support you, and that’s what happened to me,” Long said at the announcement Friday morning.
A video played in the middle of the presentation. In it, Long was described as a bulldog, a tireless worker and generous.
“Long has performed more than 10,000 surgical procedures, delivered more than 4,000 babies and admitted more than 50,000 patients to hospitals,” an MU news release said.
Williamson said a colleague who had never met Long asked him what connection there could be between a small-town doctor and a nationally ranked medicine program.
Williamson’s response was that there were at least three connections: Long’s duty to the community, his staying power and commitment and his passion for innovation.
“Through the good times, the bad times, he’s served a community as a citizen and a leader,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said of Long.
For the past 15 years, the department has been ranked third nationally for its family medicine program. Williamson said the department’s graduates go on to practice rural medicine at four times the national average.
In addition to supporting the department, the gift will fund one to two fellowships each year for residents aspiring to practice medicine in a town such as Butler.
“It’s a very substantial gift,” Williamson said, adding that it was significantly more than $1 million. In honor of the gift, the department has been renamed the Curtis W. and Ann H. Long Department of Family and Community Medicine.
Deaton said he comes from a small town in eastern Kentucky, where residents had to rely on a doctor to visit their home. He said the gift highlights the importance of rural medicine, and people such as Long, his wife and family who have dedicated their lives to it.
“His benefits go beyond anything you could measure in dollar terms or benefit to the community,” Deaton said.