Livestrong Gives $50 Million to UT’s Medical School

Livestrong Gives UT $50 Million for New Cancer Center

In one of the biggest gifts in UT history, the Livestrong Foundation has pledged $50 million to establish a cancer program at the university’s new Dell Medical School.

The donation, announced today and slated to be paid out over the next decade, will create the Livestrong Cancer Institutes. The institutes will focus not on treatment or basic research, but on expanding the model of patient-centered care that Livestrong promotes, said Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston at a standing-room-only press conference today.

“We’re living in a health-care system that values the number and complexity of procedures more than the person,” Johnston said. “We’re too focused on the tumor and not enough on the person who happens to have the tumor. I want to thank Livestrong for doing something much better than just building a building. How do we create an ecosystem that creates the kind of care we all want? This is going to be a big adventure.”

While specifics of what the institutes will do have yet to be announced, they’ll likely include much of what Livestrong already does—like helping cancer patients deal with insurance companies, participate in clinical trials, and maintain a healthy quality of life during and after treatment.

Today’s announcement was a public-relations high point for two institutions that have each weathered major controversies in recent years. Livestrong was dealt a serious blow to its image and its finances in 2012 when cyclist Lance Armstrong was forced to sever ties with his own nonprofit, while the political infighting between UT President Bill Powers, Regent Wallace Hall, and the rest of the Board of Regents has been dogging the university for years now.

Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman acknowledged that stormy history in the press conference today when he turned to Powers and said, “At Livestrong we are in the business of survivorship, and you, my friend, have exemplified that very concept.”

The Livestrong donation also represents the completion of UT’s eight-year Campaign for Texas, a massive fundraising project that has now exceeded its $3 billion goal. More than 26,000 people donated to the campaign, which ends on Aug. 31. That didn’t stop Powers from making one final pitch at the press conference.

“Now we’re over the goal line, but I might add we have 12 days left,” he said, to laughter.

Photo by Jay O’Hare.


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