WMed Live raises $5.8 million to support the mission of the medical school

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On May 27, more than 1,000 friends, alumni, parents, corporate partners, foundation funders, faculty and staff of WMed gathered from across 25 states for the virtual gala, WMed Live: A First Decade Celebration. The medical school developed the innovative format to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event generated a remarkable $5.8 million to support the mission of the medical school. This included a significant gift for the creation of two new scholarships to attract and retain students who are underrepresented in the field of medicine.

The 90-minute program celebrated WMed’s 10th anniversary, recognized Founding Dean Hal B. Jenson, MD, MBA on the occasion of his retirement, and welcomed Paula M. Termuhlen, MD, as the medical school’s new dean. The show included celebrity appearances and special messages from healthcare leaders, government officials, and philanthropic supporters. It also highlighted the importance of growing the diversity, equity, and inclusiveness of the medical school’s programs. 

“Participants from across the country came together as a community, not only to celebrate WMed’s 10th anniversary, but to also financially support the mission of the medical school and launch the next decade of WMed’s service to Southwest Michigan,” said William D. Johnston, chairman of Greenleaf Trust and WMed Live event co-chair. “The funds raised will greatly expand the access and opportunity for students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine to come to Kalamazoo and study medicine at WMed, which will increase the diversity of the next generation of physicians in our region and across our country.” 

Several special gifts were also announced, including the naming of the medical school’s deanship, research floors and the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree program in honor of Dr. Jenson.

Funding for the two diversity scholarships came from Jon Stryker, grandson of Dr. Homer Stryker, and his husband Slobodan Randjelović, who have stepped forward to support the medical school’s aspirations of significantly increasing the diversity of the student body at WMed. The generous gift will be given over the course of five years. 

“We have chosen this moment to provide these two scholarships to help WMed as a show of support for my sister Ronda and her husband Bill, who are chairing WMed’s 10th anniversary gala,” Jon Stryker said. “We believe this gift will provide a stream of resources that will allow WMed to immediately increase the number of students of color that they can serve. We hope it will also play a special role in increasing the number of medical doctors of color all across America.” 

The first scholarship program will support students entering the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree program, which is one of the medical school’s highly successful pipeline programs to attract students of color to attend WMed and to prepare them for admission to the MD program. 

The second scholarship program will provide enhanced access and opportunity for students underrepresented in medicine to receive a full scholarship to earn a MD degree from the medical school. These scholarships will play a key role in enabling the medical school to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning community. 

“This is a special day in the life of WMed,” Dr. Termuhlen said. “These two extraordinary scholarships will support the medical school’s strategic goals for increasing the access and opportunities for students of color to enter the field of medicine. It is hoped that the future medical doctors these scholarships will support will also play a direct role in helping to reduce disparities in healthcare all across our nation.”  

Jack Mosser, associate dean for Development and Alumni Affairs, shared, ”We are deeply grateful to Jon and Slo for their vision, leadership, and generosity. Their philanthropic investment in expanding the diversity of our student body will provide significantly increased access and educational opportunities for WMed learners for decades to come.”

Dr. Termuhlen concluded, ”Our anniversary gala formally begins WMed’s next decade. All of the gifts that have been made through the virtual gala will support the mission of the medical school, greatly enhance our diversity and inclusion programs, and significantly expand educational opportunities for all WMed students.”

Visit https://med.wmich.edu/wmedlive2021 to watch the recorded event or to learn more about ways you can become a friend and supporter of WMed.