Feb. 3, 2004

Contact: John Scarffe, KU Endowment Association, (785) 832-7336.

Kansas Health Foundation gives $500K for KU School of Medicine

LAWRENCE -- The Kansas Health Foundation has given $500,000 to establish a scholarship for University of Kansas medical students in honor of the foundation's former chairman.

The gift from the Wichita-based foundation to the Kansas University Endowment Association will establish the John T. Stewart III Scholarship for MD/MPH Students. The scholarship will be awarded to five students enrolled at either the KU School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kan., or the School of Medicine-Wichita who are pursing a master's degree in public health (MPH) in addition to a medical degree. The degree program is administered by the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at both the Wichita and Kansas City campuses.

"In an age of threats from bioterrorism, the spread of diseases such as the West Nile Virus and the escalating epidemics of obesity and adult-onset diabetes, Kansans need physicians trained to manage the challenges of public health crises," said Barbara Atkinson, executive dean of the KU School of Medicine. "We deeply appreciate the generous support of the Kansas Health Foundation."

Stewart, a resident of Wellington, is a former chairman of KU Endowment and continues as a member of its board of trustees and executive committee. He was fundamental in the establishment of the Kansas Health Foundation following the sale of Wesley Medical Center. A board member of the Kansas Health Foundation for many years, he served as the organization's chairman from 1996 until 2002. During his tenure, the foundation's assets grew to more than $375 million.

"We are grateful for the compassion and leadership that Mr. Stewart brought to the foundation," said Marni Vliet, president and chief executive officer of the foundation. "His mark on the organization will not be forgotten. His legacy is a foundation specifically designed to serve the people of Kansas."

Stewart said he was deeply moved and honored by the gift.

"The scholarships will reach out and help fill an immediate Kansas need and also complement the foundation's long-range goal of making a difference," he added.

Associate Professor Linda Frazier, executive director of the KU-MPH program, said medical students can elect to add a year to their medical studies to complete the public health degree.

"With a master's degree in public health, health-care workers have the skills to assess health characteristics and risk factors in entire populations," Frazier said. "They can plan, implement and evaluate an intervention to improve the overall health of a population or to handle an outbreak of an illness such as Severe Acute Respiratory Disease (SARS). They also may become involved in developing public policy."

The Kansas Health Foundation, www.kansashealth.org, is a private philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans. Each year the foundation awards grants totaling nearly $20 million to groups in Kansas. The organization's primary funding areas are public health, children's health and leadership. Since its inception, the Kansas Health Foundation has given more than $20 million to KU Endowment.

The grant from the foundation counts toward KU First: Investment in Excellence, the largest fund-raising campaign in KU history. KU Endowment is conducting KU First on behalf of KU through 2004 to raise funds for scholarships, fellowships, professorships, capital projects and program support. KU Endowment is an independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fund-raising and fund-management organization for KU.

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