University of Illinois Announces Major Gift Commitment to UIC College of Medicine During Launch of $2.25 Billion Campaign

Jun 01, 2007 08:05 AM

The University of Illinois announced Friday night (June 1) a major gift to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine during the kick-off of the largest fundraising effort in the 140-year history of the University.

A $22 million estate gift commitment from Dr. James A. and Marion C. Grant of Austin, Texas, will support an array of academic activities in the UIC College of Medicine related to the mechanisms, treatment and prevention of emerging diseases arising from the immune system. Their gift will establish the Dr. James A. and Marion C. Grant Program in Basic and Applied Immunity and two Dr. James A. and Marion C. Grant Endowed Chairs to help the college recruit and retain world-class faculty to teach, conduct research and pursue other scholarly activities related to the field of immunology.

James Grant, an Arizona native, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in engineering and enlisted in the Marine Corps. After World War II he started a construction company before deciding to attend medical school at UIC. As a student with a background in engineering and with entrepreneurial skills, he served as a conduit between doctors and engineers to help the university build a heart-lung machine in 1952, the same year he earned a bachelor’s degree in medicine.

He also suggested to administrators at Rush Hospital, which was short of interns, that senior medical students serve as assistants to interns. He became one of 10 College of Medicine students to live at Rush in his senior year while doing histories and physicals and providing other help to attending staff.

After earning his M.D. in 1954, Grant did his internship in San Diego, and he started his own practice, Pacific Beach Medical Clinic, in 1956. His one-man office expanded to become the area’s largest practice, which he sold in 1975.

Marion Grant, an assistant high school principal, left the education field to help her husband start a new general practice in Irvine, Calif., which he sold in 1985. After working in emergency rooms for a few years, he opened the nation’s first private, free-standing plasma center in Tyler, Texas.

After a few years, the Grants opened another plasma center in Austin. Today, their Austin-Bio-Med Lab, Inc., plasma centers are among the largest in the nation, collecting and shipping plasma worldwide.

Prior to their latest gift, the Grants provided generous support for immunology research in the UIC College of Medicine’s section of infectious diseases.

The Grants’ $22 million gift was announced by U of I President B. Joseph White during the kickoff of Brilliant Futures: The Campaign for the University of Illinois, which seeks to raise $2.25 billion to support students, faculty, research, programs and campus environments. The U of I Foundation had received commitments of over $990 million in gifts, grants and pledges to the campaign as of May 29.

The Brilliant Futures Campaign was publicly launched Friday night at an event attended by over 1,115 alumni and other supporters at Chicago’s Navy Pier. The campaign began on July 1, 2003, with its “planning phase” and will continue its eight-and-one-half-year quest through year-end 2011.

Of the total $2.25 billion campaign objective, $1.5 billion is the goal for the Urbana-Champaign campus; $650 million is for the Chicago campus and $28 million is for the Springfield campus. The combined goal for University administration and the U of I Foundation is $72 million.

The Illinois campaign, with a goal of $2.25 billion, will rank among the elite and largest campaigns for higher education in the nation. There are just 10 campaigns that are, or have, been launched or completed that are larger.

The Brilliant Futures Campaign is the third comprehensive capital campaign for the University of Illinois. The initial fundraising endeavor, Campaign for Illinois, exceeded its $100 million goal by raising $137 million between 1979 and 1985. The second effort, Campaign Illinois, was launched in 1991 with a goal of $1 billion. When the campaign closed on Dec. 31, 2000, gifts totaled $1.53 billion, making this fundraising effort one of the largest ever conducted by a public university at that time.

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