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University of Memphis Breaks Ground on Community Health Building

Levy Family Establishes Scholarship at Loewenberg School of Nursing

University of Memphis Breaks Ground on Community Health Building

On May 13, 2013, The University of Memphis broke ground on a Community Health Building which will house the Loewenberg School of Nursing and the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders on the University's Park Avenue Campus.

With 177,000 sq. ft., the building will accommodate more than 1,100 nursing students, 70 faculty and staff, and nearly 130 graduate clinicians, clinical and research faculty and staff in communication sciences and disorders.

The four-story building will feature a primary care education suite for advanced practice nursing education, a 170-seat auditorium and lecture hall, a new home for the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center, and research, health assessment and skills labs.

Donors contributed more than $15 million in private support in order to qualify for $45 million in matching funds from the state of Tennessee. The Community Health Building was a priority capital project in the University's $250 million Empowering the Dream Centennial Campaign, which is set to conclude June 30.

With an aging U.S. population, health care demand is growing at an unprecedented rate. A study published in the American Journal of Medical Quality in 2012 projected a shortage of registered nurses across the country, with the severest shortage in the South and West. Dr. Lin Zhan, dean of the nursing school, expects Tennessee will experience a shortage of 12,500 registered nurses by 2030.

Loewenberg has doubled its enrollment over the past several years and added a graduate nursing program, but many students are turned away because of space limitations.

"The new facility will help us to not turn away hundreds of qualified applicants who want to be dreamers, thinkers and doers," said Zhan, "and it will have a good return. Simply, an additional 100 nurses who are educated as a result of a new building will generate up to $10 million annually for our economy."

The Community Health Building will impact the economic strength of the immediate community, as well as the physical health of individuals in the Mid-South and West Tennessee for years to come.

"In order to remain a top-ranked graduate program, we desperately need a facility that will allow the program to grow and prosper," said Dr. Maurice Mendel, dean of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. "State-of-the-art research facilities, additional classroom space equipped with the latest technology and clinical space better equipped to provide hands-on training for our students will allow us to prepare more students while continuing to meet the many speech and hearing needs of the Mid-South community."

The School's audiology program has been ranked as high as sixth and speech-language pathology as high as 12th in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Construction should begin by this fall and take about two years, said Tony Poteet, assistant vice president for Campus Planning and Design.

The University of Memphis is the flagship institution of the Tennessee Board of Regents System. Founded in 1912, it is recognized nationally for its academic, research and athletic programs. Today the U of M educates more than 22,000 students, and it awards more than 4,000 bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees annually. Home to the largest honors program in the state, it also is ranked in the Top 10 for Student Internships by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit

Click here to watch a video of the groundbreaking ceremonies.

Levy Family Establishes Scholarship at Loewenberg School of Nursing

Dr. Janet A. Levy and Ralph Levy III, siblings and children of the late Ralph Levy Jr., have made a significant gift to the Loewenberg School of Nursing at the University of Memphis to support students pursuing the goal of becoming registered nurses.

The gift establishes the Ralph Levy Jr. Endowed Scholarship in Nursing, which will be awarded to multiple students from underrepresented populations who attended a public high school in Memphis. Recipients must be and remain in good academic standing with the University and the School of Nursing and demonstrate financial need.

Levy Family

[Pictured from left are Ralph Levy III; Dr. Lin Zhan, dean of the nursing school; Hazzie Hubbert (caregiver to Ralph Levy Jr. and inspiration for gift); and Dr. Janet A. Levy.]

Janet Levy is an assistant research professor and statistical methodologist at Duke University School of Nursing; she has been a practicing statistician and research methodologist for 25 years. Ralph Levy III is an associate with Leahy, Wright and Associates LLC; he has more than 30 years of experience as a trial attorney in the St. Louis area. The scholarship honors their father, the late Ralph Levy Jr., a native Memphian, businessman and amateur golfer.

"We are establishing this scholarship to express our deep gratitude and appreciation of the members of the African-American community in Memphis who provided nurturing and compassionate care to my family in our times of need, to me and my brother as small children and to my father as he aged," said Janet Levy.

Some 20 percent of students in the Loewenberg School are African-American. A goal of the School is to retain and graduate African-American students so they can join the nursing workforce and care for diverse patient populations.

"We are honored and humbled to receive such a generous gift from the Levy family in support of African-American nursing students from Memphis," said Dr. Lin Zhan, dean and professor in the Loewenberg School. "The Levy family's gift reflects the values of caring, compassion and humanity. Nurses make a difference every day, and this generous gift will further encourage our African-American students to become professional nurses, leaders and practitioners."


University of Memphis receives $3.7 million gift from Hardin Trust

$1 Million Harrison Gift Will Support U of M's Most Critical Needs

University of Memphis' Empowering the Dream Centennial Campaign Exceeds $200 Million Mark with Gift from Jim and Gina Wiertelak

Scholarship in Honor of U of M President Raines Will be Funded by Martin Family 

University of Memphis receives $3.7 million gift from Hardin Trust

The University of Memphis announced today that it received a $3.7 million gift from the Helen and Jabie Hardin Charitable Trust (Foundation). The gift includes $1 million for the Helen Hardin Honors Program, $100,000 to the university's School of Public Health and $2.6 million to support women's athletic programs.  The gift to athletics is the single largest donation ever made to women's athletics at the U of M.

"Those of us who were fortunate enough to have known Helen and Jabie Hardin recognize that they were extraordinarily civic-minded and gave generously to many community organizations," said Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis. "Our academics and athletics were recipients of their monetary support and their keen interest."

The Helen and Jabie Hardin Trust has been a major benefactor of the University of Memphis for many years. Shortly before her death in 2008, Helen Hardin gave $2 million to the university for the benefit of honors students. That gift helped the university exceed its goal of increasing its honors enrollment to more than 10 percent of the undergraduate student body and the university named the program the Helen Hardin Honors Program. Established in 1975, the Honors program enrolled 1,848 students this fall. It is the largest Honors program in Tennessee. 

Jabie and Helen Hardin were the founders of wholesale food distributor Hardin-Sysco.  In 1995, the University of Memphis bestowed its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, upon the Hardins, and in 1997 they were inducted into the Society of Entrepreneurs.

The School of Public Health was established as an independent academic unit at the U of M in July 2009.  It prepares a public health workforce, addresses public health concerns and provides information and outreach to our community and the region.  Only four years after its creation, the School has been accepted as a candidate for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).  The School of Public Health's goal is to become one of the nation's premier centers for health disparities research, with particular emphases on urban health equity, urban health policy, environmental health, and behavioral intervention tied to chronic diseases among vulnerable populations.

The U of M Athletic Department released its new strategic plan last month.  A portion of the plan outlines the university's goals for continuing to grow athletics through new facility construction.

"One of our goals at the University of Memphis is to always remain at the forefront of women's athletics and to be compliant under the guidelines of Title IX and gender equity issues," said Tom Bowen, athletic director. "With the gift from the Hardin Foundation, we can begin additional facility construction projects that will benefit our women's programs as we enter the BIG EAST Conference next year.

"We will use the Hardin Foundation gift to completely redesign and rebuild the Memphis track located at the Park Avenue Campus," Bowen said. "We will enlarge the footprint of the current facility, enclose the grandstands and place a full-scale soccer field in the center of the track. Both men and women's track and men's and women's soccer will reap the benefits of this project.

"This gift will allow us to enter into the second phase of construction at the Women's Softball Stadium," Bowen continued. "A new clubhouse will be added, which will house locker rooms, coaches' offices, meeting and recruiting rooms, indoor pitching and batting areas, as well as a training room, equipment room and laundry room."

The University of Memphis is currently in the second phase of construction on the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, which serves as the home of women's basketball and volleyball. The new portion of the project will add a state-of-the-art weight room, an indoor, four-lane training track, an elevated cardio platform, a player lounge and an enlarged training room with Grimm Tubs, hydroponic pools for injury rehabilitation.

"All of these projects are critical to the university as we enter the BIG EAST Conference in July of 2013," Bowen said. "This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX. We want to make absolutely certain that the University of Memphis remains a beacon for gender equity in women's athletics."

The University of Memphis launched Empowering the Dream, an ambitious $250 million fundraising initiative, in September 2011. Thanks to the Hardin gift, the U of M has now secured commitments of more than $228 million toward that goal. The campaign continues through June 30, 2013.

$1 Million Harrison Gift Will Support U of M's Most Critical Needs

Hunter Harrison

Hunter and Jeannie Harrison have made a $1 million unrestricted gift to the University of Memphis. This gift will be used to support the University's most critical needs as identified by U of M President Shirley Raines and her advisers.

"We are indebted to Hunter and Jeannie Harrison for their gift to the University," said Raines. "Their generosity and desire to support the University's most critical needs will allow us to place much needed resources into areas that will greatly benefit our students and our community."

"Jeannie and I grew up in Memphis and wanted to give something back to the place we called home for our childhood and young adult years," said Hunter Harrison. "The University of Memphis has made a significant impact on the city of Memphis over its 100-year history. What better way to give back to our childhood home than to support the University? After reviewing several of the University's critical needs we decided to make our gift unrestricted, allowing Dr. Raines and her advisers to determine the best and most strategic use of the funds."         

In March, Harrison, a U of M alumnus, led the rail educational session at the Freight Transportation Leadership Academy at the U of M's Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute (IFTI). Harrison was serving as IFTI's first Executive in Residence in 2009 when he suggested that the Institute offer a certification program for mid- and upper-level executives. The Academy is a concise program that offers hands-on experience and allows participants to gain a total understanding of the transportation industry, thereby creating a pipeline for future industry leaders.

Harrison began his career in the railroad industry with the Frisco (St. Louis-San Francisco) Railroad while still attending the U of M. He rose through the ranks at Frisco, then with Burlington Northern, which acquired Frisco in 1980. Harrison served as chief operating officer of the Illinois Central Railroad from 1993-98. In 1998 Harrison became COO of CN (Canadian National) Railway Company. In January 2003 he began serving as president and CEO, a position he held until he retired in 2009.

Harrison was named North America's Railroader of the Year by Railway Age magazine in 2002.

The Harrisons, along with their daughter Cayce, own Double H Farms in Wellington, Fla. 

The Carolyn L. Wiertelak Chair of Teaching and Learning

Jim and Gina Wiertelak

The Carolyn L. Wiertelak Chair of Teaching and Learning will be established at the University of Memphis by virtue of a $3 million commitment from Jim and Gina Wiertelak in tribute to his late mother and her 35-year career as an elementary school teacher.

The gift will enable the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences to recruit a nationally recognized scholar who has a reputation for producing innovative research in the field of early childhood and elementary education.

In making the gift, Jim Wiertelak said, "Gina and I believe a part of being a good citizen is philanthropy and the support of education. We are blessed to be in a position to accomplish both goals."

"This is an extraordinary gift from two extraordinary people," said Dr. Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis. "The commitment to establish the Carolyn L. Wiertelak Chair of Teaching and Learning is a meaningful way to recognize someone who influenced thousands of people through her work as an early childhood educator. With this visionary gift, Jim and Gina Wiertelak will perpetuate his mother's concern for preparing excellent teachers."

Dr. Donald Wagner, dean of the College, noted "The impact of early childhood and elementary educators on children's future success cannot be overstated. The building blocks for social emotional development are laid in preschool. The Carolyn L. Wiertelak Chair of Teaching and Learning will enhance the reputation of the College's early childhood and elementary education programs, thus strengthening the University's ability to attract other renowned educators and researchers."

Jim comes from a long history of educators, including his grandparents, mother, sister, niece, and a daughter. Gina and Jim are both products of public education, with Gina coming from Lonoke, Arkansas, schools and Jim from the Chicago public school system.

While Gina's son attended Ridgeway Middle School and Ridgeway High School in Memphis, they were supporters of the arts program there, as well as the girls' basketball program at Overton High School. The Wiertelaks are avid supporters of University of Memphis and are U of M Athletics Ambassadors.

Jim retired last year from Sedgwick Claims Management after 35 years as chief operating officer. He is currently chairman of the board of the Orpheum Theatre. Gina is retired from a career in commercial insurance. She is now president of the Fast Break Club, the booster club for the women's basketball program at the U of M.

The U of M College of Education, Health and Human Sciences has a strong foundation upon which to build teacher education. Of the 60 four-year public and private colleges and universities in Tennessee, it is the public institution with the most nationally recognized teacher education programs; and several of those are the only nationally recognized programs of their kind in the state.

The College's distinguished faculty lead 16 research centers, including the Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP), a state-designated Center of Excellence dedicated to improving Pre-K through 12th grade education.

Through work with the College's two lab schools, the Barbara K. Lipman Early Childhood School and Research Center and the Campus School, the College's graduates enter the teaching work force as leaders, trained for and dedicated to classroom excellence. The U of M is one of fewer than 100 institutions of higher learning in the United States with such lab schools.

The Wiertelak Chair will join other College initiatives such as Tigers Teach, the Memphis Literacy Academy, and CREP's evaluation of the Smithsonian Institution's School Science Education Initiative that involves 75,000 rural and urban students in grades one through eight and 3,000 teachers and administrators in Indiana, Texas, and North Carolina.

Endowed faculty positions, such as the Wiertelak Chair, are a key priority in the University's $250 million Empowering the Dream Centennial Campaign. To date, more than $205 million has been secured, which represents 82% of the goal. The campaign ends June 30, 2013.

Scholarship in Honor of U of M President Raines Will be Funded by Martin Family

A new scholarship has been established to honor Dr. Shirley Raines, president of the University of Memphis, by Mr. and Mrs. Brad Martin. The scholarship, which will be awarded annually to three undergraduates from West Tennessee who intend to pursue a career in teaching, is being underwritten initially by a commitment of $100,000 from the Martins.

The scholarship recognizes Raines for her leadership of the University of Memphis since July 2001. In funding the scholarship, Brad Martin said, "The esteem in which President Raines is held by students, faculty, alumni, and our community is a direct reflection of the fact that she is, first, a great teacher. The Raines Scholarships will support individuals from our region who likewise intend to devote themselves to a life of teaching. In Shirley Raines, they will have an extraordinary role model."

Raines said, in response to the honor, "I am deeply honored that Brad and Dina Martin have chosen to establish the scholarships in my name. Future generations of young teachers will be helped by the Martins' generosity. As someone who has spent a lifetime in the field of education, I realize the vital importance of teachers to our society and of the preparation of teachers for their chosen careers. These scholarships will benefit future teachers from West Tennessee, the area of the state where I grew up and where I was taught by extraordinary teachers."

A native of Bells, Tenn., she began her lifetime education career as a classroom teacher and later was a childcare center director and director of a Head Start program. Before coming to the U of M as its president, she was vice chancellor for Academic Services and dean of the College of Education at the University of Kentucky.

During her tenure as U of M president, Raines was instrumental in the establishment of the Memphis Research Foundation and in the formation of partnerships between the University and other community businesses and organizations. Her efforts have resulted in a great (almost 100 percent) increase in sponsored research grants and contract awards, as well as increases in annual giving to the University from private donors.

In terms of students, she has focused on increased emphasis on student retention, expansion of the University's Honors and Emerging Leaders programs, establishment of a guaranteed internship program for qualified students, and the establishment of living-learning residential and curricular learning communities throughout campus.

Brad Martin has a long association with the University, beginning as a student in the 1970s. Before graduating with a B.A. degree in political science in 1976, he had served as Student Government President and on the Student Ambassador Board. As an alumnus, he chaired the Board of Visitors and the U of M Foundation Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2009, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award, and he taught a class in state and local politics. He has also served on the Tiger Athletic Advisory Board and as a University Athletic Ambassador. Currently he is a member of the cabinet for the Empowering the Dream Centennial campaign.

Dina Martin graduated cum laude with a BFA degree in theatre. She served on the Music Advisory Council in 2008.


U of M Announces Major Campaign to Coincide with its Centennial

U of M Sets $250 Million Goal in Fundraising

The U of M at 100

Read the inagural issue of EMPOWER, the newsletter for the Empowering the Dream Centennial Campaign.


U of M Centennial Campaign

Empowering the Dream Leadership

Empowering the Dream News & Events

Empower Newsletters

Charles Burkett Video: Message from Charles Burkett, Campaign Co-Chair

Carolyn Hardy Video: Alumni and Friends on Empowering the Dream

Dr. Shirley Raines Video: The Importance of Empowering the Dream

Read the Empowering the Dream Case for Support

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