December 2, 2010

Coalition for the Canby Robinson Society sees growth

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Members of the Coalition for the Canby Robinson Society gathered recently for the group’s annual meeting. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

Coalition for the Canby Robinson Society sees growth

Despite a difficult economy, a dedicated group of Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty and supporters continues to make progress in its support of the Canby Robinson Society, the philanthropic organization for annual donors of $1,000 or more to the Medical Center.

The Coalition for the Canby Robinson Society (CRS) has grown in the last year to include 34 volunteers, and is led by co-chairs Robert Collins, M.D., professor of Pathology, Judson Randolph, M.D., and Robert McNeilly Jr., the latter two former Canby Robinson Society presidents.

On Nov. 15, the coalition's third annual meeting took place in the Eskind Biomedical Library Boardroom. Highlights included comments by Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who emphasized the vital role of scholarship support in enabling graduates to be leaders in medicine as well as service-minded.

Randolph said the coalition is very much a team effort. In the past year, the group contacted 525 prospective Canby Robinson Society members in 34 states and has contacted 846 people in the past two years. The coalition now includes volunteers from New York City, and cities all over Tennessee including Chattanooga, Knoxville, Columbia, Memphis and Nashville.

“Everyone in the coalition also wants to work so that we can keep costs down for graduates, enabling them to make the choice of service-minded practice. We want to make sure that medicine remains a calling that is affordable,” Randolph said.

One of the key points made at the meeting was that gifts of all sizes are important. Last year, more than 17,200 households made gifts of less than $5,000 to the Medical Center, generating more than $4 million for research funds, scholarships, faculty support and many other needs. In 2009, 46 percent of Medical Center faculty made a gift, and nearly 30 percent of School of Medicine graduates gave as well.

For 30 years, the CRS has encouraged and honored those who give financial support to the education, research and patient care programs of VUMC.

Of particular interest to the co-chairs and many coalition volunteers is assisting donors in finding avenues to support medical scholarship. Such gifts have now provided dozens of full scholarships. In addition, for the last two years, all students in the School of Medicine received at least $2,000 in tuition discounts.

George Canby Robinson was dean of VUSM from 1920-1928. He ushered the training program into the modern era by insisting that Vanderbilt's medical school be constructed on the main campus with teaching, patient care and research facilities under one roof.