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There is no doubt about it. CEO Michael Johns’s vision for the Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) is nothing short of ambitious. Since he arrived at Emory a little more than 10 years ago, Dr. Johns has focused on enabling Emory to realize its full potential and become the leading pioneer for progress in health and healing in the world. Under his direction, the health sciences center team is united around a commitment to lead in transforming health and healing in this century. This transformation involves a strategy to forge ahead in the field of predictive health to counter illness before it starts. It involves tackling health care problems that threaten people on a global scale. It involves revamping the way health care is delivered by creating integrated, patient-focused care teams. It involves creating state-of-the-art health care facilities and new centers of excellence that provide unparalleled research and patient care in transplantation, heart and vascular medicine, neurosciences, lung health, and cancer. It involves ensuring that our School of Medicine becomes recognized as one of the top 10 in the nation, the Rollins School of Public Health as one of the top five, the Woodruff School of Nursing (SON) as one of the top three. It involves redefining the patient experience in the hospitals and clinic. And it involves solidifying the reputation of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center as an international leader in advancing biomedical and behavioral knowledge.
     With this extraordinary vision and commitment, there is little doubt that Emory can lead the way in transforming health and healing in this century. Robert W. Woodruff’s gift in 1979 launched the health sciences center on this trajectory of excellence, and continued far-sighted philanthropy on the part of the Woodruff Foundation has built on this solid beginning. Recently, the Woodruff Foundation made a generous financial commitment to provide $240 million to modernize and transform our outpatient care facilities. This support will enable us to create a place where the physicians, scientists, and staff who are The Emory Clinic can offer an ideal patient-centered experience supported by the power of translational research. With this investment, we will set a new world-class standard for health care, while continuing to serve the more than 3 million patients we see each year. We must now build on this infrastructure investment to ensure that we have funds to support faculty, patients, students, and programs.
     Our faculty have spent these decades creating the basic infrastructure to make the move to greatness. We have added significantly to our research capabilities by building new facilities and recruiting brilliant scientists, health care educators, and clinical investigators. We have completely rebuilt our midtown hospital and upgraded other clinical facilities. We have fortified our medical, nursing, and public health education and training programs by literally rebuilding these schools and investing in the excellence of faculty, making them among the very best in the nation. To continue to recruit international leaders and retain our current outstanding faculty, we must secure funding for endowed faculty positions, start-up packages, recruitments funds, research funds, and other personnel priorities as well as scholarship support for our students.
     So now we are poised—to move from really good to great. However, as Mike Johns describes it, we can choose to be even more than great. If we follow through on vision and commitments, we can be indispensable—the major academic health center where 21st-century medicine is catalyzed, where the best and brightest want to work and learn, where people who want the best care come. We are prepared to realize the full potential of the amazing discoveries and advances that our scientists and clinical investigators are making every day. We can become the place where discovery, innovation, and cures are born.
     My job as vice president for development for the WHSC is to work with faculty and staff to gather the resources to enable these dramatic changes to happen.
     I am extremely encouraged by how excited so many people are at the prospect of supporting and being a part of such a compelling leadership effort. Yet I am still sometimes asked why Emory’s $4.3 billion endowment isn’t enough to cover new programs we might propose or buildings we want to build. There are two primary reasons why spending the endowment is not an option.
     First, the vast majority of Emory’s endowment has been given by donors who require that their gifts remain as permanent investment funds and that the annual investment income and gains from those endowed funds be used for donor restricted programs. For instance, if an alumnus endows a scholarship with $100,000, by agreement those funds are permanently invested and all returns MUST be used for student scholarships. Donors provide those funds trusting that Emory will, in perpetuity, conform to their wishes.
     However, even if we could spend the endowment core or income at our own discretion, consider this: if we started spending endowment on operating costs, we’d be bankrupt in a few short years. Instead, the responsible use of endowment funding is investing wisely for a future that enables us to completely transform the way to health and healing.
     That leads to another question I am commonly asked: How will we pay for this vision?
     Funding to cover the university’s strategic plan and the WHSC’s vision will come from several sources: Increasing clinic volume and making operations more efficient, for one. Wise use of strategic planning funds, for another. Research indirect cost recovery and debt are also potential sources for launching ambitious new projects.
     Emory’s comprehensive campaign likewise presents the WHSC with an amazing opportunity. In September 2005, the university began the quiet phase of its first major campaign since 1995. This phase, which will run through the fall of 2007, is the first step in laying the groundwork for a major effort to increase endowment, research funds, faculty support, student scholarships, and capital construction funds. During the quiet phase, our efforts are focused on working with lead volunteers, including members of the board of trustees and others who are our closest friends and advisers. This important group of “insiders” knows Emory and its aspirations better than any external group. These volunteers are the most committed to our success. The financial investments made by this core group will set the pace for the WHSC and the university and allow us to estimate realistic fundraising goals for the overall campaign. Near the end of the quiet phase, we will be better positioned to determine where to focus our efforts over the next five to seven years to make Emory the best Emory it can be.
     Perhaps an even more important question to consider than how will we pay for this, is why would we do it?
     Historically, Emory has attracted countless talented and dedicated people who have worked for the greater good. Through those individuals, through all of us, Emory provides excellent services, outstanding care, premier education, and vital discoveries to society. By doing so, Emory dramatically improves the lives of the people it serves. From working to develop a cure for diabetes to taking on the challenge of bringing safe water to the 1.1 billion people around the world who currently lack it, we are combining our talents to make a true difference. We are translating basic science discoveries into applications at the patient bedside, where they will do the most good. We are grounding our nursing students in service learning, to extend beyond a traditional education to embrace a larger mission. In short, we are committed to transform health and healing because it is the right thing to do for our community and our society.
     In light of who we are as an institution, it comes as no surprise that an outstanding group of volunteers has stepped up to lead the various units of the WHSC in this campaign and join with faculty and staff to make it succeed. These alumni, community leaders, and philanthropists are committed to our vision. What they understand—and what each of you validate in the classroom, laboratory, clinics, and hospitals every day and night—is that an investment in the WHSC is an investment in a better future for families, the citizens of Atlanta and the Southeast, and, ultimately, the people of the world.
     But we also owe it to those volunteer leaders to make our own commitments. Our individual commitments may take many forms, not just financial. Your contribution of time and talent, care, and understanding makes Emory a better place. Every day we each use our talents when we come into contact with people who have given us something special. One of our jobs is to give back to them and to ensure that we are being great stewards of their trust in us.
     To whom much is given, much is expected. Faculty and staff are absolutely critical to this campaign if we have a fighting chance to be the world’s leader in the transformation of health and healing. New buildings, mind-expanding programs, fresh discoveries, and generous gifts from donors are possible only because the people—faculty, staff, and students alike—who are the WHSC enable the dream. This campaign is for all of us, and we need the help of everyone. That means you. We’re in it together. Together we will make this ultimate push to success.

Phil Hills is vice president for development, Woodruff Health Sciences Center. Illustration by Margaret Reigel
  The Insiders  
  The following volunteers recognize a sound investment when they see one. They are sharing their talents, time, and pocketbooks to serve as leaders for the WHSC in Emory’s upcoming campaign.

WHSC, Doug Ivester, former CEO, The Coca-Cola Company; trustee, Emory University; chair, WHSC board of trustees

School of Medicine, Pete Correll, retired chairman and CEO, Georgia Pacific, and Ada Lee Correll

Rollins School of Public Health,
Larry Klamon, former president and CEO, Fuqua Enterprises, and Anne Estes

Woodruff School of Nursing,
David Allen, president, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associate; trustee, Emory University; Emory Healthcare board of directors; and Beverly Allen

Emory Hospitals,
Bob Goddard, chairman, Goddard Investments; Emory Healthcare board of directors

Yerkes National Primate Research Center,
Bill Dobes, Dermatology Consultants

If you’d like to join their efforts, contact Phil Hills,, 404-727-5711.


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