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.
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
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
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.
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
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
Phil Hills is vice president
for development, Woodruff Health Sciences Center. Illustration by Margaret
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
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
If you’d like to join their efforts, contact Phil Hills,