Woodruff Foundation gives major boost to Emory University's strategic plan

November 17, 2006

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Inc. is contributing $261.5 million to Emory University to help the institution construct a model patient-centered health care system for the 21st century and to support other strategic priorities of the university.

The announcement of the extraordinary financial commitment, one of the largest in American higher education, came at Emory's Nov. 16 Board of Trustees meeting. Board of Trustees Chairman Ben Johnson, managing partner in the Atlanta firm of Alston & Bird, said, "Robert W. Woodruff and the Woodruff Foundation have been Emory's major partners at every juncture in Emory's modern advancement to preeminence. We are all grateful that the foundation continues at our side and leading the way as we advance so many common interests together."

The Woodruff Foundation's gift includes:

"We are excited and deeply gratified by the confidence in Emory's future expressed by this gift from the Woodruff Foundation," said President James W. Wagner. "At the same time, we feel a great responsibility to steward these funds to ensure they achieve the greatest possible impact of advancing Emory toward its vision."

The new Emory Clinic complex will be located across Clifton Road from the current Emory University Hospital on land occupied by the current Emory Clinic. Plans call for a combination of patient, research, and office space designed to integrate research and clinical care in an "Ideal Patient Experience," from parking, arrival and check-in to examination, treatment and patient discharge.

President Wagner noted that the foundation's $12.5 million gift to support strategic priorities will also have significant impact as discretionary seed money for promising cross-disciplinary ideas that need early nurture to succeed. "I am tremendously heartened by this important validation of the course we have set at Emory, one in which we leverage our own resources and gifts as well as the investments of others to achieve positive transformation in the world."

Under the rubric "Where Courageous Inquiry Leads," the name of a strategic plan adopted after 18 months of study by more than 1,000 members of the academic community, Emory is planning to invest more than $2 billion in new academic programs and campus improvements ---- including construction of a health care system intended to serve as a model for the 21st century.

Emory's plan proposes themes, initiatives and ideas that stake the university to addressing some of society's most critical needs, ranging from new understandings of health and disease, to the study of religion and peace building, to creating bridges of community across gulfs of racial and social difference.

Specific initiatives will bring together researchers from varied departments and schools at Emory to study religions and the human spirit; race and difference; predictive health; global health; neuroscience, human nature and society; and computational life sciences.

The Emory Clinic is part of a complex of health care buildings on Emory's Clifton Road health sciences campus supported in whole or in part by the Woodruff Foundation and its associated charities, the Lettie Pate Evans and Joseph B. Whitehead Foundations. Those other buildings include the Winship Cancer Institute, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, the Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, and the new School of Medicine Administration and Education Building, scheduled to open in 2007.

"This generous gift will help support Emory's vision to build the health care environment of tomorrow for all the people of Atlanta, the State of Georgia and the Southeast today. It is very exciting to reflect that this new medical complex will enable us to fulfill our goal to transform health and healing in the 21st century," said Michael M.E. Johns, executive vice president for health affairs and CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "These new facilities will support patient care, medical training and research in a new and more nimble way that sets the standards for health care systems everywhere."

Robert W. Woodruff, the late legendary leader of Coca Cola, became a major benefactor of Emory beginning in 1937. In 1979, he and his brother George Woodruff gave Emory the then-record sum of $105 million, the first nine-figure gift to an institution of higher education, galvanizing Emory's advance into the front rank of American research universities. The Woodruff Foundation's new gift to Emory is exceeded only by its $295 million endowment of a foundation in 1996 whose proceeds specifically benefit the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. Both gifts rank in the top ten given to any institution of higher education in the last 40 years.

"Robert Woodruff helped establish the Emory Clinic more than fifty years ago," said P. Russell Hardin, president of the Woodruff Foundation. "The original clinic facilities are now wholly inadequate for modern, first-class care and medical training. The Woodruff Foundation is pleased to invest in Emory's current leadership and its continuing ambition to provide world-class patient care and medical training."

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Inc. is an independent private foundation with a broad charter to support charitable, scientific and educational activities. The Foundation is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees under the laws of the state of Georgia. Grants generally are limited to tax-exempt public charities located and operating in Georgia. Principal giving interests are focused on elementary, secondary and higher education; health care and education; human services, particularly for children and youth; economic development and civic affairs; art and cultural activities; and conservation of natural resources and environmental education.


Emory University is one of the nation's leading private research universities and a member of the Association of American Universities. Known for its demanding academics, outstanding undergraduate college of arts and sciences, highly ranked professional schools and state-of-the-art research facilities, Emory is ranked as one of the country's top 20 national universities by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its nine schools, the university encompasses The Carter Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Healthcare, the state's largest and most comprehensive health care system.

Emory University Health Sciences Center

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