UB Receives Largest-ever Gift from an Individual Donor

With $40 million gift, dedicated family physician fulfills desire to give back to UB medical school

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: September 21, 2011

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A $40 million gift, the largest-ever that UB has received from an individual donor, will benefit the medical school and help UB to deliver the best health care in Western New York and far beyond.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A doctor who received his medical degree from the University at Buffalo during World War II and spent his career investing with the intent of giving back to his alma mater has made an historic gift to the university.

The gift of $40 million is the largest-ever donation from an individual to UB.

The donor, who is deceased, is remembered as someone who from an early age knew that he wanted to be a physician.

"The day I received the letter of acceptance to the UB medical school was the happiest day of my life," he told friends. "Becoming a doctor was my lifelong dream."

UB President Satish K. Tripathi said that while the donor wished to remain anonymous, his vision for the university will be widely known as a result of his generosity.

"This donor began saving decades ago in order to one day benefit UB because he believed in the power of this university to transform lives and give students the ability to pursue their dreams," Tripathi said. "And he believed that UB possesses the potential to become one of the world's leading public research universities.

"We, too, share his vision for UB. This historic gift further inspires a growing momentum within UB and within this community to make our shared vision a reality."

The gift, which is directed to the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, "opens the door to a future of world-class medical education and health care in our region," Tripathi added.

"We are grateful to our anonymous alumnus, who in a very dramatic way has shown us the power that private philanthropy has to transform higher education," he said.

While some may find it unusual for the donor of such a spectacular gift to shun the spotlight, those who knew him best said that was his nature: He preferred to focus on the reason for giving rather than on accolades. According to friends of the donor, he was "truly grateful for his medical education," and enjoyed watching his investments grow over the years, always remarking that his financial success would mean "more for UB."

Michael E. Cain, MD, UB vice president for health sciences and dean of the UB medical school, said the donor's commitment and desire to give back to the medical school drove a burning interest in the financial markets. "Because of his skill in investing, he was able to take his simple means and turn it into a multimillion dollar gift," Cain said.

The donor arranged his gift as a bequest to be used for the priorities of UB's medical school dean. Cain said he will direct the funds to one of his chief priorities for the school: hiring faculty to support the growth of medical programs and research in strategic areas.

"This gift ensures that we can continue hiring top physician-scientists to teach and perform groundbreaking research in the UB medical school," Cain said. "It truly is a gift that will keep on giving for generations.

"With the most gifted medical faculty from around the globe teaching our students, class after class of UB medical school graduates will be prepared to deliver the very best health care in Western New York and far beyond."

As the plans for a new UB medical school in downtown Buffalo get underway, Cain said the gift provides a major incentive for the school to fulfill its vision of academic excellence while contributing to the growth of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

"Thanks to this gift, we expect to recruit to UB's medical school the most sought-after faculty members, who in turn will attract the brightest students to Buffalo and provide an outstanding education to our homegrown students, as well," Cain said.

Jeremy M. Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North Companies and chairman of the UB Council, said the gift builds on community-wide support for UB's plans to construct a new medical school in downtown Buffalo, under the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program approved recently by Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature.

"This gift is invaluable for raising the university's profile on the national and international stage," Jacobs added. "A gift of this magnitude confirms what so many in Western New York already know: that UB is a global leader in higher education and innovative research. And as a result of these institutional strengths, UB also is a catalyst for economic growth -- fueling development of a regional biotechnology industry and creating new jobs."

UB medical school resident Tim Buckley, MD, said he is inspired by the donor's generosity and the similarities he sees between the donor's motivations and his own dreams.

"Like the donor, I decided to become a doctor at a very young age," Buckley said. "I'm told that he held his patients in the highest regard and delighted in the daily work of being a doctor. Me, too. It's a primary reason I became a family doctor.

"And, like the donor, I'm very grateful for the education I received from UB. Because of UB, I, too, am pursuing my dream to be a doctor."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.