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Higher Education
University of Texas Medical Branch
News Release
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund pledges $1 million to the new Jennie Sealy Hospital

GALVESTON, Texas —The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund has pledged $1 million to help the University of Texas Medical Branch build a new hospital, the second Galveston-based philanthropic foundation to offer a leadership commitment.

The main concourse, a prominent space on the second floor of the new Jennie Sealy Hospital, will be named to honor the Kempner Fund’s generosity. The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund Concourse will be a heavily traveled corridor that will serve as a main artery connecting the hospital to UTMB’s University Hospital Clinics, Emergency Room and John Sealy Hospital.

“The Kempner Fund strives to improve the quality of life throughout Galveston,” said Robert Lynch, the Kempner Fund’s president. “UTMB is a major economic force in the region. It is important to help UTMB remain on the cutting edge of education, research and health care. Through our contribution we hope to improve conditions in Galveston for its residents who serve as employees, students and patients of UTMB."

The Kempner Fund, established in 1946 by members of one of Galveston’s oldest families, has contributed more than $9 million in gifts to UTMB.

“Over the years, the Kempner Fund and individual family members have dedicated their energies and gifts to endowing fellowships, chairs, medical research in specialized fields and in humanistic approaches to medical practice,” said Lyda Ann Thomas, former Kempner Fund president whose term expired in December. 

Dr. David L. Callender, UTMB president, expressed his gratitude for the contribution by saying: “The Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund Concourse will serve as a bridge between UTMB’s past and its future — a fitting tribute to the fund’s longtime relationship and its profound influence on this institution. The Kempner Fund will help usher in a new era in the life of the university and transform our ability to pioneer new approaches to health care for the hundreds of thousands of patients who call on us every year.”                   

Last summer, the University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the $438 million project and, soon after, The Sealy & Smith Foundation formally announced its pledge of $170 million, the largest single gift to a Texas health institution.

The Legislature, during the last two sessions, appropriated $150 million in tuition revenue bonds for the project. UTMB plans to raise $100 million in philanthropy through its Working Wonders Campaign and will cover the remaining $18 million in construction costs.

The Jennie Sealy Hospital will feature 310 family-centered patient rooms (54 in intensive care), 20 state-of-the-art surgical suites, a 28-room day surgery center and areas for visiting and consultations with caregivers. The facility will complement the existing John Sealy Hospital, which currently is being renovated and modernized.

Construction of the new hospital is expected to be complete in 2015, with a formal opening anticipated in early 2016.

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