May 9, 2008

Long friendship spawns VUSM gift

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VUSM Dean Steven Gabbe, M.D., standing, with, from left, Caroline Bartlett Webb, James Webb Jr., and Judson Randolph, M.D. (photo by Tommy Lawson)

Long friendship spawns VUSM gift

Vanderbilt alumni James Webb Jr., and Judson Randolph, M.D., have found a creative way to honor their long friendship while leaving a legacy to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The pair merged individual charitable trusts so that after their lifetimes, the funds will endow a full-tuition scholarship at the School of Medicine.

The gift will be called the Caroline Bartlett Webb Family and Judson G. Randolph Family Scholarship.

“Through their generosity and vision, these two friends will allow young men and women to pursue a medical education,” said VUSM Dean Steven Gabbe, M.D. “This is truly exceptional, and we are very grateful.”

Webb and Randolph met while Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers at Vanderbilt, after serving in World War II.

“Jimmy Webb is one of my heroes. He came to Vanderbilt on a football scholarship and was a great player,” recalls Randolph.

Webb went on to a career in banking, eventually becoming chair and CEO of Dominion Bank of Middle Tennessee.

Randolph graduated from VUSM, followed by surgical residency at Harvard. He practiced pediatric surgery at Boston Children's Hospital and later became chief of surgery at Washington Children's Hospital.

The pair resumed their friendship when Randolph returned to Nashville. They served together on the Medical Center Board and on the Vanderbilt Board of Trust.

Randolph soon got involved with raising funds to enable the School of Medicine to lower tuition. “That would decrease student debt, thereby allowing students a wider range of practice options — in the inner city or rural areas,” Randolph explains.

Randolph realized his charitable trust would fund about half a full-tuition scholarship. Knowing that Webb also held a trust, he suggested they pool their resources. He was thrilled when his old friend agreed. Webb asked only that the scholarship be named for his wife of 60 years, Caroline Bartlett Webb.

“I'm so flattered to have that happen,” said Caroline Webb. “I admire medical students so much for choosing the way of medicine. It's always rewarding, but never easy.”

The Webbs have had two sons and four grandchildren attend Vanderbilt University. Tragically, one of their grandsons was stricken with liver cancer while a sophomore.

“Jud came over as soon as he heard,” Caroline Webb recalls. “Our grandson lived less than a year after his diagnosis, and Jud was wonderful during that time.”

Randolph's wife, Vanderbilt alumna Comfort Adams Randolph, died in 2001. Their daughter, Comfort Randolph, graduated from Vanderbilt in 1987. Their four sons attended college elsewhere. “I have to mumble whenever Vanderbilt folks ask me where my sons went to school,” Randolph said with a chuckle.

Randolph offers a few words of wisdom to future Webb-Randolph scholars: “Vanderbilt School of Medicine is one of the great medical schools. A graduate of VUSM is recognized as a fine product. When they apply for residencies, they are sought after and well respected. The imprimatur of a Vanderbilt degree is highly prized.”

Randolph then repeats words he uttered at a Vanderbilt event years ago: “I learned to be a surgeon at Harvard. I learned to be a doctor at Vanderbilt.”