The Heritage Society honors and recognizes donors who have included Southwestern Medical Foundation or UT Southwestern Medical Center in their estate plans. On Nov. 10, 2020, we had the privilege of celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a special virtual event. William T. (Bill) Solomon, a Charter Member of The Heritage Society and former Chairman of the Foundation, provided remarks to kick off the occasion with gratitude and recognition of the legacy being carried on by The Heritage Society.
Family and Legacy: Remarks from Bill Solomon
We have indeed come a very long way in the last 80 years.
It’s particularly inspiring to me to see the growth and impact that this Foundation and the Medical Center have brought to our community. It is also a great honor to join this particular group of friends and have an opportunity to share a bit more about the milestone that we’re here to honor today.
The 25th anniversary of The Heritage Society has come for me in the blink of an eye. But I remember when Dr. Charles Sprague, as head of Southwestern Medical Foundation at the time, had the idea to start The Heritage Society, 25 years ago. Dr. Sprague was determined at that time that we should build and create a more systematic effort for developing planned giving. As he had already seen the benefits of planned gifts, he hoped to provide conceptual means to meet the growing needs of the Medical Center, and to help fund the evolving need for key talent.
He wanted to send an important message to our community about the strategic importance of planned gifts to drive the reputation and work of UT Southwestern forward. He certainly knew that it would take a sizable endowment to build capacity to address challenges in health care, which our community would face in the years to come. I agreed at the time that this was an enormously important endeavor. And together with many like-minded colleagues, I had joined Dr. Sprague in 1995 as a founding member of the new Heritage Society.
Many years before that decision, I had been greatly influenced by one of our original founders, Karl Hoblitzelle. Mr. Hoblitzelle was an inspiring and generous man. I grew up knowing of his devotion to the Foundation and the Medical School, both of which he had helped to start. He believed strongly in innovation and excellence. And he poured his time, his heart, and his wealth into helping build the best Medical Center our region could support. The more I was able to learn about this medical center’s promise and potential, the more I grew to feel that way too.
When I joined the board of Southwestern Medical Foundation in 1981, I was able to see the opportunities we had not yet addressed even more clearly. My wife, Gay, and I have participated and remained active and engaged through the various campaigns in these years since.
We were delighted to see the Foundation grow to over a billion dollars in assets, which was a real milestone and continue its focus on growth in the endowment.
Having an assured funding source to sustain the teaching and research, I mentioned is critical to all of us who wish for a better future. I’m delighted to learn that all of the money that the Foundation has raised over the years, of that money, almost a third of that giving has been the result of a realized plan gift.
It’s been said that when someone leaves you a planned gift, they consider you, family. We’ve been heartened and inspired by the many people in our community who consider us family. We treasure, honor and remain grateful for each of our family legacies and the continuing impact of lasting value that they make.
Throughout our history, it would be impossible to fathom where we would have been without significant philanthropy. We began the school through the philanthropy of Dallas citizens like Karl Hoblitzelle. The state has supported the Medical School to a large extent, but never enough to fund the excellence of research, clinical care, and teaching that we have long envisioned. We’ve worked hard in our campaigns to attract and retain the best students and faculty, and to create the great differentiators that make leading health care possible.
In creating this innovative community of like-minded supporters, 25 years ago, we knew that it would be significant, but had no idea the impact and reach it would ultimately have.
We hope that those of you who are members know our gratitude. We invite those of you who would like to learn more to let us know, so that we can help you to do that. It’s impossible to find a mission and a cause that means more to the citizens and the economy of this region. Gay and I are committed to the mission of UT Southwestern and the long-standing connection that the institution holds in the hearts of our philanthropic community.
Through the campaigns, in which I’ve had the honor of being Chair or participating, we have seen unprecedented support from leaders in our region, which has enabled the Medical Center to expand its size and scope, and to recruit top clinical and research talent from across the country, and around the world. These have been defining moments for Dallas and for UT Southwestern. And we are indeed in another of these defining moments today.
In a time where leadership in medical research has proven itself to be tremendously important, UT Southwestern is stepping forward in the work to understand and treat COVID-19. They are also stepping up in another frontier of medicine to treat illness and injury of the brain.
I want to thank Dr. Podolsky and Peter O’Donnell for their vision and leadership, and bringing the O’Donnell Brain Institute to life. And I want to thank our special guests today, the inaugural director of the Peter O’Donnell Jr Brain Institute, Dr. Bill Dauer, who will be sharing with us momentarily, a look at what is possible as we look ahead.
The accolades being earned by the O’Donnell Brain Institute are impressive, and so is the scale of this effort. Across eight brain-related departments, the Brain Institute is providing specialized care for more than 200 conditions. They are prioritizing a collaborative approach to research and care, earning, for example, a top 15 national ranking for neurology and neurosurgery from US News and World Report, with many more accolades to come.
This provides the collaborative environment in which great talent thrives.
I want to express our thanks to you today, who are with us today, and to all of those who contribute through current and planned gifts. Collectively, you continue to make our tremendous progress possible.