January 24, 2002

Donations Set Improvement Plan for Weil Medical College into Effect

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In what President Hunter R. Rawlings III described as “one of the most important gifts in the history of Cornell University,” philanthropists Sanford I. Weill and Maurice R. Greenberg donated $150 million to Weill Medical College on Jan. 8. Weill, chair and CEO of Citigroup, Inc., and Greenberg, chair and CEO of American International Group, Inc., intend the gifts to kick off the medical college’s $750 million Capital Campaign.

The campaign marks the second phase of the College’s strategic plan, Advancing the Clinical Mission. The first phase of the plan, according to Weill Medical College’s Vice Provost Myrna Manners, was based on improving research funding and raised $316 million. The Capital Campaign focuses on the clinical side, with $332 million already raised. The donation had been in the works for some time, but even those close to the deal did not expect an announcement in January.

“We worked on this for some months; we were aware for some time [of the donation],” Rawlings said. “To have it come through in January was really beyond our expectations; it was great news.”

Influencing the unexpected promptness of the donation, Rawlings suggested, is the current political and economic climate in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Mr. Weill and Mr. Greenberg are two of the most recognized leaders of New York — and that means the United States,” Rawlings said. “It’s a big investment in New York City. Both Mr. Weill and Mr. Greenberg wanted to state their confidence in the city of New York.”

“At a time when New York City has been through so much — many of the victims [of the World Trade Center attacks] were treated at the Weill Burn Center — this is a wonderful boost for New York City overall,” Manners said.

The funds raised in the Capital Campaign, according to Manners, will go toward improving or creating programs in 37 specific areas, including patient care and facilities. Special emphasis will be placed on women’s and children’s health, heart disease, cancer, neurological disease and aging, according to a Jan. 8 press release.

“Our goal is to be the best of the best,” Manners said.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Weill Medical College 11th in the nation in 2001.

The donation of $100 million from Weill and his wife, Joan, and $50 million from the Starr Foundation, Greenberg and his wife, Corinne, “kick [the Capital Campaign] off with a major statement of confidence,” Rawlings said.

Weill’s contribution to the gift is his second $100 million donation — “a remarkable decision,” Rawlings added. It is also the third $100 million donation received in three years; Greenberg has also previously given to the College. Greenberg is a member of Weill Medical College’s Board of Overseers, and Weill is the chair.

“We feel that Weill Cornell Medical College has done great things in the past and is looking to do great things in the future,” Manners said. “This generous donation will help us do that.”

Archived article by Andy Guess