Harold and Annette Simmons increase their donations to Innovations in Medicine Campaign to $125 million
Gift propels campaign total over $740 million
DALLAS — Jan. 15, 2008 — Legendary philanthropists Harold and Annette Simmons have committed an additional $50 million to UT Southwestern Medical Center's Innovations in Medicine campaign, raising the total Simmons contributions for the campaign to a record-setting $125 million.
This latest addition to the Simmons' campaign contribution has also pushed the campaign total over the $740 million mark — making it the most successful philanthropic fundraising effort in Dallas history.
The Simmons' $125 million commitment to Innovations in Medicine between 2002 and 2007 makes them the largest living donors to a single philanthropic campaign in Texas history.
The lifetime contributions of Mr. and Mrs. Simmons, the Harold Simmons Foundation, and related entities to UT Southwestern and Southwestern Medical Foundation now total more than $177 million.
“It is impossible to overstate the impact that the Simmons’ generosity has had on UT Southwestern's ability to maintain its place among the leading medical institutions in the world,” said Dr. Kern Wildenthal, president of the medical center. “Their desire to support medical research and clinical care has been unwavering. We are incredibly grateful to Harold and Annette for their vision and commitment to excellence. They and their family are stalwart friends of our institution, and they have been a driving force behind the overwhelming success of the Innovations in Medicine campaign. We will never be able to thank them adequately.”
The newest addition to the Simmons' campaign total will provide $50 million to create the Harold and Annette Simmons Comprehensive Center for Research and Treatment in Brain and Neurological Disorders, addressing one of UT Southwestern’s highest priorities.
Dr. Alfred Gilman, executive vice president for academic affairs, provost, and dean of UT Southwestern Medical School and one of the medical center's four Nobel Prize winners, said: “The Simmonses have already donated funds to transform our cancer programs and to help in our efforts in a number of other key areas. Now, they are also enabling UT Southwestern to make major progress in both basic and clinical neuroscience. The opportunities for breakthroughs are enormous. This latest magnificent commitment from Mr. and Mrs. Simmons will allow us to approach some of the most fundamental problems in human biology and to understand and treat some of the most devastating human diseases, including both behavioral and degenerative neurological disorders.”
The Innovations in Medicine campaign was launched in 2002 with a goal of $450 million for medical research and clinical care, with the aim of enabling the medical center to attract more of the world’s leading physicians and scientists to Dallas and to secure UT Southwestern’s position at the pinnacle of international medical science and clinical care. In 2003, the overall campaign goal was increased to $500 million to reflect a greater focus on UT Southwestern’s new Clinical Services Initiative, a component of the campaign aimed at developing a system for delivering a superior experience for patients at UT Southwestern’s clinics and hospitals.
Most of the funds raised in the Innovations in Medicine campaign will be directed toward endowments and projects focused on major diseases of special importance for which breakthroughs are possible over the next several years and decades. These include behavioral and degenerative neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's; cancer; heart disease and stroke; pediatric illnesses, birth defects and inherited disorders; and infectious diseases and immunology. Other priorities include basic molecular research, biostatistics and computational biology, medical imaging, and biotechnology, as well as the Clinical Services Initiative. In addition to programmatic support in these areas, the campaign has sought funds for clinical and research equipment and facilities.
“The unparalleled success of the campaign attests loudly and clearly to the credibility UT Southwestern has in our community,” said William T. Solomon, chairman of the campaign. “The ‘product’ sold itself, and the response of the people of Dallas and North Texas has been incomparable. The truly exceptional generosity of Harold and Annette Simmons is an extraordinary example of the role of private philanthropists in fulfilling the vision of the campaign and of UT Southwestern.”
The Simmonses $125 million in contributions for the current campaign are but the latest in a remarkable history of extraordinary support to the medical center.
In 1983 Mr. Simmons pledged $8 million to fund the Harold C. Simmons Arthritis Research Center. In 1988 he committed $41 million (at the time, the largest gift in Dallas history) to help construct the Simmons Biomedical Research Building, named for his parents, Reuben Leon and Fairess Clark Simmons; to provide further funding for arthritis research; to establish the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center; and to endow five Distinguished Chairs named for his wife and four daughters.
Support for the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center was supplemented by Mr. and Mrs. Simmons and the Simmons Foundation with contributions totaling $20.4 million early in the Innovations in Medicine campaign. Then, in 2005, Mr. and Mrs. Simmons committed an additional $50 million to ensure that UT Southwestern could be pre-eminent in clinical and research programs in all major types of cancer. Later that year they also gave $500,000 to establish an endowed chair in clinical oncology in memory of Dr. Charles Sprague, the first president of UT Southwestern.
“Harold and Annette Simmons have provided the means for
UT Southwestern to become one of the top cancer centers in the world,” said Dr. Eugene Frenkel, the medical school's first oncologist, an institutional leader since the early 1960s, and a close personal friend of the Simmons family. “Even more important, they are sincere and caring people who genuinely want to help others as much as possible. We are tremendously honored by their trust in our institution.”
In addition to supporting cancer and neuroscience, the Simmonses have donated four more major gifts for the Innovations in Medicine campaign in various areas — $1 million for research on kidney disease; $1 million to fund the Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center at
UT Southwestern University Hospital - Zale Lipshy; $1 million to support a program that sends UT Southwestern physicians to South Africa to provide clinical-care services for indigent patients in the poorest areas of that country; and $1 million to cover a shortfall in state funding for family planning clinics (a gift that prevented elimination of services for indigent patients throughout Dallas County, until governmental funding could be restored), as well as a number of smaller gifts for a variety of clinical and research programs.
“Annette and I think very highly of UT Southwestern and are honored to be able to lend our support where there is a need,” Mr. Simmons said. “In addition to our interest in cancer, arthritis and kidney disease, diseases of the brain and nervous system are areas of tremendous importance, and we’re pleased that the latest portion of our campaign contribution will help UT Southwestern be a world leader in this field.
“It has been very gratifying for us to be able to be so closely involved with the Innovations in Medicine campaign. We feel certain that the community's support of UT Southwestern will result in great discoveries that will lead to cures and preventions for many diseases.”
Harold Simmons is a legendary, self-made American billionaire who was the middle son of rural Texas schoolteachers. After he graduated from
UT Austin in 1952 with a master's degree in economics and a Phi Beta Kappa key, he worked first for an agency of the U.S. government and then for a Dallas-based bank. At age 29, he borrowed money to buy a small drugstore, using his $5,000 savings for a down payment. Within a decade he had built a statewide drugstore chain worth more than $50 million.
He sold the drugstore chain to the Eckerd Corp. in 1973 and launched a career as an investor. He has prospered as a brilliant and creative financier and now controls numerous companies, including five corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1988, Mr. Simmons established the Harold Simmons Foundation, for which he serves as chairman. His two daughters help manage the foundation, through which a major part of the family’s philanthropy is carried out. Lisa Simmons Epstein is president of the foundation and Serena Simmons Connelly is director.
Annette Simmons, a native of Tyler, Texas, and a graduate of Southern Methodist University, has served in a variety of civic organizations and has been on the boards of the National Kidney Foundation of Texas, the Parkland Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, SMU Tate Lecture Series, and the Crystal Charity Ball. Her community involvement has earned her numerous awards, including the Crystal Charity Ball Hall of Fame Award in 1997, and she was honored in 2008 through the naming of the Annette Simmons Rose Garden at UT Southwestern. She and her husband have jointly received Southwestern Medical Foundation’s Charles Cameron Sprague Community Service Award in 1995, the Dallas Historical Society Philanthropy Award for Excellence in Community Service in 1999, the Annette G. Strauss Humanitarian Award in 2000, and the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance’s “Champ Award” in 2003.
In addition to their support of UT Southwestern, the Simmonses are major benefactors of countless other organizations, many of which are affiliated with the medical center, including Parkland Memorial Hospital, Children’s Medical Center Dallas, SMU and its Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, UT Austin, Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, Our Children’s House, Dallas County Dental Society, Dallas Achieves, Uplift Education, Big Thought, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, YWCA, TexProtects, Ronald McDonald House and the Crystal Charity Ball.
“Each day all of us should be thankful for the exceptional generosity of Annette and Harold Simmons,” said Paul M. Bass, chairman of Southwestern Medical Foundation. “Their continued support of
UT Southwestern through their gifts to Southwestern Medical Foundation is unsurpassed. Their ultimate vision is exhibited by the fact that they are funding projects that will benefit the health and well-being of generations to come — individuals who they will never personally know.”
Media Contact: Rachel Skei Donihoo
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