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TODAY news for Thursday, January 28, 2008

Loma Linda University news

Weingart Foundation awards LLU $750,000 grant

The Weingart Foundation, a leading philanthropic organization based in Los Angeles, has awarded a grant totaling $750,000 to Loma Linda University. The foundation awarded its grant in two segments: $500,000 was awarded toward the construction of the Centennial Complex, a student-oriented, 150,000-square-foot facility currently under construction on the north end of the University campus. A $250,000 grant was awarded toward student scholarships in nursing, to attract new entrants into the nursing profession.

The foundation has had a significant humanitarian impact in Southern California, its primary geographical locus, since its founding in 1951. Its philanthropic concern is generally for children and youth, the aging population, the homeless, the underserved, and those individuals and families with health concerns. Historically, the foundation has made grants to credible organizations that serve these populations, including colleges and universities.

The foundation awarded both grants on the condition that the University would meet fundraising goals. The $500,000 grant award toward the Centennial Complex was made contingent on the University raising $40 million in philanthropic gifts from other sources. The University met this goal earlier in 2007.

Presently under construction on the north end of the University campus, the Centennial Complex is designed as a high technology student oriented facility that integrates leading edge communication technology to enhance health professions learning and teaching. The complex has been designed to facilitate “anytime, anywhere” access to health professions information. To be completed during 2009, the “smart” facility will include one of the nation’s leading anatomical sciences teaching centers, laboratories, classrooms, faculty spaces, the School of Religion, two large teaching amphitheaters (350 and 250 seats), a communications technology core, a clinical learning assessment center, and a leading-edge medical simulation center. The complex is a valued facility that will serve students from all of the University’s schools.

The $250,000 grant toward the School of Nursing was made as a challenge, conditioned on the School and University raising $2 for every $1 the Foundation committed, all toward scholarships for nursing students, especially those with significant financial need. The School of Nursing also met this challenge in 2007.

“The Weingart Scholarship challenge and program is a significant catalyst for the University to attract new students into nursing, students that the profession desperately needs in our region,” says Marilyn Herrmann, PhD, RN, dean of the School of Nursing. “There are 14 hospitals in San Bernardino County, all of which draw nursing graduates from the University. The scholarship will have a tangible impact on our region’s nursing shortages.”

Combining the foundation’s grant with the funding raised by the School of Nursing, the Weingart Scholarship program will award a total of $750,000 in need-based scholarships to new nursing students over a three-year period. The program will allow 25 new students to access the nursing curriculum for each year of the three-year program.

“We have great admiration for the Weingart Foundation’s humanitarian orientation and for its strong commitment to the most vulnerable segments of our society,” notes B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS, president of Loma Linda University. “In this context, the University is especially honored and grateful to the foundation for its generous grant to provide new learning facilities for our health professional students, and for initiating and stimulating a scholarship program to attract new students to the nursing profession. For our region and state, the foundation’s leadership on behalf of nursing will have a beneficial impact in mitigating the shortage we face for competent and compassionate nurses.”

The Weingart Foundation was established by Ben Weingart, a real estate developer in Southern California, and his wife, Stella. Mr. Weingart died in 1980, at the age of 92. During his lifetime, he developed and built many hotels, shopping centers, and apartment buildings. He also developed affordable housing for thousands of families and was well known as one of the principal developers of the City of Lakewood and Lakewood Center.

Because of Mr. Weingart’s life long concern for the welfare of the homeless and other people in need, the foundation has focused its grant making on programs that address the needs of the underserved and the general community. Over the past three decades, the foundation has authorized grants totaling almost $700 million to support a great variety of Southern California social service, educational, and community programs. The foundation is among the major philanthropic entities in the United States.

By Albin Grohar, PhD

TODAY news for Thursday, January 28, 2008