Gift is medical school’s largest

The MU School of Medicine got $2 million from a veteran surgeon and his wife.
Sunday, November 7, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:44 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The MU School of Medicine has received a $2 million donation from a retired faculty member for the use of medical research and education. This marks the largest endowment the medical school has ever received.

Allocation of the gift is under the discretion of William Crist, dean of the medical school. Crist and his successors will receive $100,000 annually on behalf of their institution from the fund given by veteran surgeon Hugh Stephenson and his wife, Sally.

The dean has yet to decide which projects to subsidize, MU spokesman Jeff Hoelscher said.

Stephenson, 82, professor emeritus of the university’s department of surgery, said they had given the dean the flexibility to spend the $2 million instead of deciding on the use of it themselves because they trusted Crist’s leadership. “I am impressed with Dr. Crist’s enthusiastic visions,” he said. “He has moved the medical school to one of the top medical schools in the country.” Stephenson, who once served as the medical school’s interim dean, said he thinks that future deans of the school will also follow Crist’s example.

The donation from the couple brought about the creation of the Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Deanship.

“I am thankful to the Stephensons, who have given so much to our medical school and the community,” Crist, the first Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson dean, said in a press release. “This endowment will enable the medical school to further its mission in recruiting and retaining the best clinicians and scientists in the country.”

Endowment to the medical school has doubled since Crist took position of dean in 2000.

A 1943 MU graduate, Hugh Stephenson was one of the key people to bring about the university’s four-year medical degree program and last year saw the department of surgery named in his honor. Having served as president on the UM Board of Curators, he has deep ties with the university and saw this gift as a way to express his support to the For All We Call Mizzou fund-raising campaign, which seeks to collect $600 million in private donations over a period of six-and-a-half years.

Both he and his wife are involved in the university’s fund-raising events as honorary co-chairs of the medical school’s steering committee. Sally Stephenson is a long-time member of the Ellis Fischel Advisory Board and helped secure donations for setting up a guest house that offers temporary stay to hospital patients and care givers.

She said she hoped the donation will make a “helpful stimulus” on the school Hugh Stephenson studied and worked at for more than 50 years.

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