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Assisi Foundation Gift to U of M School of Public Health Will Have Huge Impact University News
For release: February 19, 2010

For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843

The Assisi Foundation of Memphis has awarded a $500,000 renewable grant this year toward a $2.5 million conditional pledge over five years to the University of Memphis to assist the School of Public Health, formed in July 2009, in obtaining its national accreditation.

The Assisi gift is the first in the $7.75 million campaign for the accreditation of the new School. It is also the largest donation ever made to the University by the Assisi Foundation.

“Such a significant gift, coming so soon in this campaign, creates momentum for the School’s fundraising effort to achieve accreditation,” said Dr. Shirley Raines, president of the U of M. “The University has long had a very good relationship with the Assisi Foundation, which has supported us and worked with us as we educate professionals who will address some of society’s most challenging issues of health disparities, infant mortality, and research on ways to improve health.”

U of M Vice President for Advancement Julie Johnson said of the donation, “The generous leading commitment by the Assisi Foundation provides valuable credibility and leverage as we aggressively seek additional funding. We are extremely grateful to them for their quick and solid support of the School of Public Health. Their gift, by its dollars and by its example, will enable the School to take its place as a leading center of health-related information and research of great relevance to Memphis and other urban communities.”

After nearly a decade of planning, last summer the University of Memphis launched the School of Public Health as an independent academic unit within the University. The long-term success of the School will depend to a great degree on national accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health. The fundraising campaign, inaugurated by the Assisi Foundation gift, will enable the School’s administration to secure strong leadership, to attract high-quality faculty and students to its programs, and to provide modern laboratories for research that will have an impact on the health of citizens of Memphis and of the Mid-South.

“Accreditation is a key benchmark for the School,” said Dr. Lisa Klesges, director. “Having that distinction will underscore the quality of our faculty and our academic programs, and it will open more avenues for externally supported research. In turn, that research will help the School and public health practitioners across the region and the nation address important health outcomes and health policies.”

Administrators intend to begin the accreditation process for the School by 2012.

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