Tuesday, the LIVESTRONG Foundation announced it was donating $50 million dollars to the University of Texas (UT) to establish the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes at the Dell Medical School in Austin. UT’s Campaign for Texas, which ends August 31, set an initial record-busting goal of $3 billion over eight years and this $50 million donation blew the roof off the goal.
In fact, Campaign for Texas has broken all previous records for the university, even before adding in LIVESTRONG’s gift, with UT raising almost $400 million for the year. The university’s previous record was back in the 2007-08 school year when they topped out at $366 million. UT has succeeded in garnering one of the highest totals raised by any American public university ever in a single campaign.
Before LIVESTRONG jumped in to create the endowment for the new Cancer Institutes, the largest pledges for UT’s year were $25 million from Terry and Robert Rowling for the McCombs School of Business and a $50 million donation from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation for the medical school. Additionally, 208 people included gifts for the university in their estate plans, which added up to $76 million.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation, based in Austin, announced on social media that they envision LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes as “designed by cancer patients, their families and survivors with an emphasis on community and collaboration.” They expect the Institutes to “promote pioneering research and teaching practices.” Bill Powers, President at UT Austin, believes innovative advances to result from the partnership between Dell Medical School and the new cancer institutes.
Founded by cyclist Lance Armstrong, the LIVESTRONG Foundation has experienced a few tumultuous years since the doping scandal that stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. The organization severed all ties with Armstrong back in 2012. However the fallout from his scandal continued as the sale of their trademark yellow bracelets decreased by almost a million units year over year, from almost 3.14 million in 2011 to 2.175 million in 2012. Additionally, they were forced to spend a million dollars in legal fees to enforce the trademark of the LIVESTRONG brand.
The donation to UT to create these new cancer institutes are a direction the company is excited about. Doug Ullman, president and CEO of the Foundation, stated, “The relationship with the Dell Medical School is about more than buildings. It’s about providing cancer care to all who need it and moving the current culture to a more inclusive state.” He calls the Institutes “a game-changer.” The gift will be paid over the course of 10 years.
This is a dream come true for Central Texas. For years, the citizens and institutions have worked toward the goal of bringing a top-flight medical school to their area. The $50 million-a-piece donations from the Dell and LIVESTRONG foundations have made that goal a reality at UT Austin. The new medical school will begin its first class of students in the middle of 2016.
By Jenny Hansen