Weills' $100 Million Gift, Largest in University History, Will Support Advanced Biomedical Research
Apr 30, 1998
Cornell University President Hunter Rawlings today announced that the university's medical college has been named in honor of its long-time supporters Joan and Sanford I. Weill.
The new name, "The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University," was approved on April 23 by the executive committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees in recognition of the Weills' many years of dedicated service to Cornell and, particularly, the medical college.
"Sandy Weill, a 1955 graduate, is one of Cornell's most distinguished alumni," said Rawlings. "Over several decades, he and his wife, Joan, have given their time, energy and wise counsel to the university in so many ways. We are privileged now to be able to honor them in this way for their countless contributions to medical science and to their community, and we are grateful that they, through their leadership, honor us by assuring that our institution continues to thrive in the forefront of biomedical science."
President Rawlings also announced today that the Weills have committed $100 million to the university in support of the medical college and graduate school of medical sciences. "This contribution, the largest single gift in the history of Cornell, will support the college's strategic plan to strengthen its research capacity in three critical areas: structural biology, genetic medicine and neuroscience," said Rawlings.
"The entire university community is inspired by this remarkable investment in the future of biomedical science," said Rawlings. "The Weills' gift to the medical college will serve as the foundation for its current $316 million strategic plan. The advanced research that will be made possible by this gift will guarantee the college's international reputation for superb research and medical education linked to state-of-the-art clinical care and hospital facilities and will attract the very best faculty, students and research scientists."
Weill said, "The future of medicine in this country and throughout the world depends on the excellence of our biomedical research. We have seen over many years the pioneering quality of medicine at Cornell and have the utmost respect for the school's dedication to science, research, education and service. Joan and I could not be more proud to be part of this extraordinary institution. We are grateful for this honor and thankful to be able to participate in a meaningful way in ensuring that the school remains a leader in New York City and across the nation."
Antonio M. Gotto Jr., M.D., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of the Medical College and Provost for Medical Affairs, expressed his deep appreciation for the long-term commitment of the Weills to the university, the medical college and the graduate school of medical sciences: "The research initiatives that their generosity makes possible will complement and reinforce the research specialties of our distinguished neighbors and partner institutions, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and The Rockefeller University, and will provide new opportunities for excellent clinical care with our primary partner, the world-renowned New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and our neighbor, The Hospital for Special Surgery.
"This gift is consistent with the Weills' long history of acting to benefit our school," Gotto continued. "They have already made many major contributions to our ability to provide a premier education to medical students, most recently by enhancing the instructional program through the marvelous facilities of the Weill Educational Center."
Mr. Weill is chairman and chief executive officer of Travelers Group, one of the country's largest diversified financial services companies, which is preparing to merge with Citicorp. He served as a member of the Cornell board of trustees from 1989 to 1997 and is currently an emeritus trustee. He is chairman of the board of overseers of the Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences, having served as a member since 1982. He is also a trustee of the board of The New York and Presbyterian Hospital, and the board of overseers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Mr. Weill also has had a long a history with the Samuel C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell, serving on its advisory council since 1980. In 1984, he was the winner of Cornell's first Entrepreneur of the Year Award, honoring individuals who demonstrate that success in business can translate into improvements for the community at large.
In addition to his Cornell-related service, Mr. Weill's wide-ranging activities include serving as chairman of the board of trustees of Carnegie Hall, a post he has held since 1991. He previously served as co-chairman of the steering committee for the campaign that raised $60 million for Carnegie Hall's restoration. He was the 1997 recipient of the Governor's Arts Award by New York State.
Long a proponent of education initiatives, Mr. Weill in 1980 worked with the New York City Board of Education to create the Academy of Finance, which teaches the principles and applications of finance to high school students. He now serves as chairman of the National Academy Foundation, which oversees 238 academies serving more than 14,000 students in 31 states across the country.
As a tireless supporter of several New York cultural, philanthropic, and civic endeavors, Joan H. Weill has committed a great deal of her life to public service. She currently serves as vice chairman of the board of the Alvin Ailey American Theatre of the Dance. She also serves on the board of directors and is co-chairperson of the development committee for Women In Need, an organization dedicated to helping homeless women and their children.
Mrs. Weill is an alumna of Brooklyn College, where she has served on its governing board. She is also a past president and currently a board member of Citymeals-On-Wheels and a member of the board of trustees of the Paul Smith College of the Adirondacks. In addition, she is actively involved with The New York and Presbyterian Hospital, serving as co-chairman of the Women's Health Symposium and a member of the executive committee of Lying-In-Hospital.
The Weills have two children, Marc Weill and Jessica Weill Bibliowicz. Mrs. Bibliowicz and her husband, Natan, graduated from Cornell in 1981; she is a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees. Marc Weill is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
Cornell has one of the most outstanding programs of medical education in the United States, as shown by its appeal to students: over 7,000 applied for the 100 places in the Class of 2002. With the exception of the predominantly minority medical schools, Cornell consistently graduates one of the highest percentages of under-represented minority students of any of the pre-eminent medical colleges in the nation. The record in research of Cornell scientists involves a multitude of discoveries, ranging from the first organic synthesis of penicillin, to the invention of the Pap test for cervical cancer, to the Nobel Prize-winning synthesis of the pituitary hormone oxytocin, crucial to childbirth. With its primary clinical care partner, The New York and Presbyterian Hospital, centers of excellence in patient care have been created in such specialized areas as burn and trauma medicine, neonatology and pediatric critical care, cardiovascular medicine, renal services, and women's medicine.
Investment in the initiatives in structural biology, genetic medicine and neuroscience will provide a new focus for interdisciplinary collaborations across traditional department lines and with the Medical College's affiliates, bring the College a critical mass of specialist expertise and equipment, and provide high-quality support to the many existing clinical and basic research departments now investigating new molecular biological and genetic techniques. The campaign will permit the recruitment of 30 new faculty members in the targeted research areas, upgrade and expand their basic science research laboratory space, establish new endowed faculty positions and scholarships, and update faculty and student living accommodations.