For release: February 19, 2010
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843
The Assisi Foundation of Memphis has awarded a $500,000 renewable grant this year
toward a $2.5 million conditional pledge over five years to the University of Memphis
to assist the School of Public Health, formed in July 2009, in obtaining its national
The Assisi gift is the first in the $7.75 million campaign for the accreditation of
the new School. It is also the largest donation ever made to the University by the
“Such a significant gift, coming so soon in this campaign, creates momentum for the
School’s fundraising effort to achieve accreditation,” said Dr. Shirley Raines, president
of the U of M. “The University has long had a very good relationship with the Assisi
Foundation, which has supported us and worked with us as we educate professionals
who will address some of society’s most challenging issues of health disparities,
infant mortality, and research on ways to improve health.”
U of M Vice President for Advancement Julie Johnson said of the donation, “The generous
leading commitment by the Assisi Foundation provides valuable credibility and leverage
as we aggressively seek additional funding. We are extremely grateful to them for
their quick and solid support of the School of Public Health. Their gift, by its dollars
and by its example, will enable the School to take its place as a leading center of
health-related information and research of great relevance to Memphis and other urban
After nearly a decade of planning, last summer the University of Memphis launched
the School of Public Health as an independent academic unit within the University.
The long-term success of the School will depend to a great degree on national accreditation
from the Council on Education for Public Health. The fundraising campaign, inaugurated
by the Assisi Foundation gift, will enable the School’s administration to secure strong
leadership, to attract high-quality faculty and students to its programs, and to provide
modern laboratories for research that will have an impact on the health of citizens
of Memphis and of the Mid-South.
“Accreditation is a key benchmark for the School,” said Dr. Lisa Klesges, director.
“Having that distinction will underscore the quality of our faculty and our academic
programs, and it will open more avenues for externally supported research. In turn,
that research will help the School and public health practitioners across the region
and the nation address important health outcomes and health policies.”
Administrators intend to begin the accreditation process for the School by 2012.