UT passes $3 billion fundraising goal with Livestrong donation

Alex Wilts and Eleanor Dearman

The University announced it passed its goal to raise $3 billion in eight years on Tuesday with a $50 million donation from the Livestrong Foundation to the Dell Medical School.

The donation will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at the Dell Medical School. The program will work with cancer patients and survivors to create patient-centered care through teaching and research initiatives.

“Revolutionary advances will flow through this partnership,” said President William Powers Jr. at a news conference Tuesday. “Lives will be saved.”

The Livestrong Foundation was founded in 1997 as advocacy and care group for those with cancer and cancer survivors. The foundation has since provided services to 2.8 million people.

“For the past 17 years, it’s been my privilege to grow the Livestrong Foundation from just an idea,” said Jeff Garvey, founding and current chairman of the board of directors of the Livestrong Foundation.

Doug Ulman, president and CEO of the Livestrong Foundation, spoke at the news conference about the day he was diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago and how scared he felt.

“I remember that day and that moment as if it were yesterday,” Ulman said. “Millions of people around the world have that experience each and every day, and we cannot allow their outcomes to chance. This is the most significant investment we have ever made, and it is an investment in the future of patient-centered care.”

Clay Johnston, Dell Medical School dean, said Livestrong’s dedication to helping cancer patients and the medical school’s intellectual capability of finding treatments make them a perfect match.

“It’s easy to be soulmates with an organization that has such soul,” Johnston said. “What I think we’re celebrating more than anything else is this expedition we’re launching together. It’s not quite Lewis and Clark, but this partnership this is going to be a big adventure.”

The medical school is scheduled to open in fall 2016. Livestrong's donation matches the same amount the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation pledged to the medical school in 2013, which resulted in the school being named after the Dell family.

The University’s $3 billion fundraising plan, “The Campaign for Texas,” was officially announced in 2008 and counts its total from 2006. Since then, more than 26,000 individuals and 12,000 organizations donated to the University. The fundraising campaign is scheduled to end on Aug. 31 with its goal now met.

“We’re over the goalline, but I might add that we have 12 days left in the campaign,” Powers said.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, also attended the press conference and said Livestrong's donation felt personal to him as a cancer survivor and having lost both of his parents to cancer.

“I've also known the shock of being discouraged, scared and asking what the future will be,” Watson said. “The future is the chance to team with a great new medical school at a world class university."

This story has been updated throughout since its original publication.