Donor gives Mayo Clinic $200 million, its largest donation ever

November 14, 2018


A long-time admirer of Mayo Clinic is giving $200 million, Mayo’s largest gift ever, to its medical school.

Mayo Clinic announced the historic donation this morning from Birmingham, Mich., philanthropist Jay Alix. Alix, a corporate strategist, is credited with saving many companies, including General Motors in 2008, as well as overhauling the struggling City of Detroit. President Bill Clinton appointed him to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.

Alix was also named to the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees last week.

In honor of his $200 million gift, double the previous largest donation, the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine is being re-named as the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

“It (the donation) enables faculty and students to explore new academic fields to better patient care, conduct research, apply new technologies and develop innovative teaching methods far into the future,” stated Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy in announcement of the donation. “This gift will have a long-lasting impact as we boldly transform medical education and research training so the next generation of care providers can improve patient care, accelerate discovery and advance the practice of medicine.”

‘Admired their business model’

Alix says his interest in Mayo Clinic began in the 1980s, when he studied it as he was creating what would become AlixPartners.

“I really admired their business model. I liked the way they approached patients and how they helped patients solve their problems. ... I realized there was a lot to be learned on how companies could solve problems,” said Alix on Monday night.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that he started going to Mayo Clinic for executive check-ups. That deepened his appreciation for Mayo Clinic and led to many friendships, he said. Alix began doing pro bono consulting for the clinic, including work on the Destination Medical Center initiative. His Alix Foundation gave Mayo Clinic millions of dollars in recent years toward improving the clinic’s model of clinical care.

This latest gift is aimed at something different.

“The next big challenge I see for Mayo that I wanted to help them with was to help prepare the medical school for the future and make medical education more affordable for students,” he said. “We’re going to need a lot more doctors and we’ll need those doctors to be the best and the brightest.”

The endowment will support scholarships to increase access to the medical profession, regardless of students’ economic backgrounds.

“Increasingly, scholarships are essential to medical schools,” stated Mayo Clinic’s Executive Dean of Education Dr. Fredric Meyer of the Mayo Clinic. “They help attract diverse, high-potential learners who will care for our nation’s increasingly diverse patient populations.”

‘Best and brightest’

About 80 percent of Mayo Clinic’s medical students receive some financial assistance. Mayo Clinic is doubling the size of the school with the addition of a Arizona campus, which will bring the student numbers from 200 up to 400 within two years.

“His gift will allow us to supply the same degree of financial aid, despite doubling the class size,” said Meyer. “It is important to note that the power of gift will enable us to continue to attract the best and brightest from around the country.”

In addition to making medical education more accessible, Alix wants his donation to support Mayo Clinic’s development of new curricula.

“Mayo will take this money and use it to create advance degrees and build new programs around new emerging technologies, like AI (artificial intelligence) and biorobotics. The doctors of tomorrow will then be able to become the medical leaders we need,” said Alix.

Mayo Clinic’s reaction donation is different than others with Alix’s name being added to the school next to the Mayo name.

“The financial basis of our school has been very robust thanks to Mayo Clinic support and tremendous benefactor endowment, but his gift takes us to the next level. That’s why it is being named in his honor,” said Meyer.

Meyer pointed out that, unlike other medical schools around the country, it was decided to have the donor’s name follow the school name instead of precede it.

As a corporate expert, Alix calculated this historic donation as the best way to make the largest impact with the greatest return on a philanthropic investment.

“I think education and medicine are keys to high-quality life and high-quality civilization. Mayo can leverage that gift and do something good with it,” he said. “Millions and millions of people will benefit from this gift. I’m really happy with the impact it will have.”

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