The price is right

Time to call the record logs, because this one is for the books. The University of Miami School of Medicine announced on Dec. 6 that it received a historic gift of $100 million from the family of the late Leonard Miller, a longtime South Florida businessman and philanthropist. In honor of the donors and in recognition of the gift, which is the largest in the school’s history, the school has been renamed the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

“The Miller gift provides truly a remarkable opportunity for the School of Medicine,” said Dr. John G. Clarkson, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of School. “It provides the catalyst to move this already great medical school to international prominence.”

The $100 million will be used primarily to create four Miller professorships, augment the school’s academic mission, conscript the next wave of biomedical scientists and resolve any other of the school’s vital needs.

“The UM School of Medicine already has many world-renowned departments and this money will help to support current research endeavors and create new ones,” Manny Zusmer, third-year medical student, said.

The donation is part of Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami, which has raised $847 million toward its goal to raise one billion dollars by 2007. Thus far, the School of Medicine has raised more than $500 million.

“Receiving such a large donation is encouraging for the students here. It shows that the community has faith in our school, to continue to provide hope for all those suffering from disease,” Levi Kitchen, third-year medical student, said.

Leonard Miller arrived in Miami in 1954 and invested $10,000 from his own pocket into a small home-building company. By the time of his death in 2002, that small company had grown into Lennar Corporation, a national company with more than $6 billion in annual revenues. During his lifetime Miller and his wife, Susan, were supporters of UM, particularly the School of Medicine. He served as chairman of the University’s board of trustees during the entrepreneurial development of the School of Medicine and understood the great potential of the school.

“It’s a quite a distinguished honor that a family feels so strongly about a program to donate a huge lump sum of their entire life earnings to better and improve it,” Brooke Albright, third-year medical student, said. “In a time when there is so much war and hatred around the world, it’s a good feeling to know that generosity, giving and caring still exist.”

The Miller School of Medicine is continually growing, with new programs and projects currently under way. Recently, the school was awarded a $13 million grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, creating the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research. The University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital Center for Patient Safety is a pioneering, first-of-its-kind facility that is dedicated to inspiring the growth of patient safety knowledge through research and clinical investigations. In addition, the school also received a $5 million grant from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, which will go towards creating Miami GeneCure Diagnostics, Florida’s first comprehensive medical genetics diagnostic laboratory.

“[The Miller] gift is about moving to greatness, not about funding the day-to-day operations of the medical school. It ensures that for the coming decades the School of Medicine will have the financial foundation to invest in biomedical scientists to help develop our centers of excellence in research and patient care, and to enhance our educational mission,” Dr. Clarkson said.

Christine Dominguez can be contacted at