June 04, 2009| The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging today received $33.4 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the second-largest gift ever awarded to UAMS.
Reynolds Foundation Chairman Fred W. Smith received standing ovations when he announced gifts totaling $33.4 million to the UAMS Institute on Aging.
Reynolds Institute Director Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., reacts during the announcement ceremony.
John Schlereth, a former Reynolds Foundation trustee, after learning that a walkway between the Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Stephens Spine Institute will bear his name.
Gov. Mike Beebe thanked the Reynolds Foundation via taped video.
Fred Smith, Jeanne Wei, Steven Anderson and Claudia Beverly posed for pictures following the ceremony.
Reynolds Foundation Chairman Fred W. Smith and Foundation President Steven L. Anderson announced the gift to Reynolds Institute Director Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D, UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., and many other dignitaries and employees at a ceremony on the UAMS campus.
The lion’s share of the funds, $30.4 million, will pay for construction of four additional floors (55,000 square feet) on top of the existing Reynolds Institute on Aging, and a pedestrian walkway that will connect the building to the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute a block away.
When asked about the grant, Foundation Chairman Fred W. Smith stated, “Our goal in making the original grant to UAMS was the establishment of a world-class department of geriatrics. We believe that goal has been realized. Now we have challenged Dr. Wei and Dr. Wilson to take the next step and develop the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics and Reynolds Institute on Aging into a world-renowned center.”
The Reynolds Foundation also awarded $3 million to the Arkansas Aging Initiative, a program of the UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging that oversees eight Centers on Aging across Arkansas.
“These are marvelous, marvelous gifts,” Wilson said. “These gifts just don’t happen – we’ve been working with the Reynolds Foundation for about three years.”
Gov. Mike Beebe, speaking via taped video, also thanked the Reynolds Foundation for its generosity.
“As the baby boomers retire and America’s population continues to live longer, the work done in this beautiful facility will only grow to greater importance for our state and beyond,” Beebe said. “Without your help none of this would even be possible.”
B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D., president of the University of Arkansas System, said the Reynolds Institute on Aging has become one of the nation’s best in serving the healing and the research needs of the aging.
“I give a tremendous thank you to all of you, including our friends and supporters here in this room,” Sugg said. “You helped make it possible to develop this remarkable institute. And, Dodd, thank you for your leadership as our chancellor. I don’t think you can say it any other way, he’s going out in a blaze of glory.”
Smith told the audience that Wei’s leadership and outstanding community support were significant factors for the Reynolds Foundation.
“Dr. Wei has played an important role in meeting our challenges to develop this program into a world class program,” Smith said. “We were very pleased that (she) took Dr. (David) Lipschitz’s place when he retired.”
The $30.4 million gift was given on condition that the Reynolds Institute on Aging raises an additional $5.6 million through other sources as a restricted fund to support its programs.
Wei pledged to honor the gift by working tirelessly and in unity with the campus and community.
“We will further the legacy of Don Reynolds in serving all older individuals of Arkansas and all older Americans,” she said. “We are forever grateful to you. Thank you.”
Wei, who also serves as chairman of the Reynolds Department of Geriatrics at UAMS, said she hopes to begin construction on the expansion in mid-2010.
“This gift will make a huge difference in our ability to recruit physicians who want to specialize in geriatrics,” Wei said. “By the year 2020, there will be more people 80 and older than newborns. We must be prepared to care for them.”
The existing Reynolds Institute on Aging facility is 101,000 square feet. Its construction was made possible as part of a $29.7 million investment from the Reynolds Foundation in 1997. Not counting today’s gift, the Reynolds Foundation has given UAMS $51.4 million, of which $48.1 million has gone to the Reynolds Institute on Aging.
“When I first came to Arkansas seven years ago, I was amazed at the generosity,” Wei said. “Although Arkansas is relatively small state, it has a huge heart with a heartbeat that is heard and felt around the world. In the past 10 years, many, many older Arkansans have seen great changes in their lives in large part thanks to the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and its support of the outstanding programs that we’ve been able to develop.”
Claudia J. Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Arkansas Aging Initiative, said the $3 million will be used to replicate the home caregiver training model that was developed at the Schmieding Senior Health Center, a Center on Aging satellite in Springdale. The Caregiving program will be replicated initially in four of the Arkansas Aging Initiative’s Regional Centers.
“I am thrilled that the Reynolds Foundation has made such a fabulous contribution that will enable the Arkansas Aging Initiative to better prepare an in-home caregiver work force and to improve the quality of life and care of older Arkansans and their families,” Beverly said.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Donald W. Reynolds was the founder and principal owner of Donrey Media Group. When he died in 1993, the company included more than 70 businesses, most in the communications/media field. Headquartered in Las Vegas, the Foundation has committed over $200 million to improving the lives of elderly people in Arkansas and throughout the United States.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.