Alumnus builds on momentum for new medical school building with $1.5 million gift

School of Medicine Dean Pamela B. Davis (left) with donors Michael and Ruth Eppig.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine announced a $1.5 million commitment from School of Medicine alumnus Michael D. Eppig, MD, and his wife Ruth Eppig. The Eppigs’ gift will help fund a new medical education and research building that will serve as the School of Medicine’s headquarters.

School of Medicine Dean Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD, announced the gift during Alumni Weekend, at which Eppig celebrated his 35th medical school class reunion.

Earlier in the week, the university announced $20 million in gifts, $10 million each, from the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation. As a result of the momentum these gifts generated, the Eppigs decided to step up and announce their support for the project.

“Ruth and I are honored to help realize Dean Davis’ vision for the future of the School of Medicine. As Clevelanders, we see how important the School of Medicine is to the local medical sector and community as a whole,” Michael Eppig said. “We are proud to help provide the modern space this stellar academic program deserves.”

The planned 160,000 square-foot education and research facility will incorporate the most modern technology, teaching and laboratory techniques. Academic spaces will mirror core curriculum elements, such as technologically enhanced small-group learning rooms, modern anatomy labs, wired lecture halls and independent study spaces. A key element will be the Mt. Sinai Skills and Simulation Center, which will be prominently located in the new facility. It also will serve as the home office of the Weatherhead Institute for Family Medicine and Community Health and a physical base for the institute’s community-engaged research and programs.

A new building will allow the School of Medicine to increase class sizes to a level that meets the request of the Association of American Medical Colleges to help meet projected physician demands nationwide.

In 2008, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education accreditation team called the new Western Reserve2 Curriculum (implemented in 2006) the “class of the field.” Unfortunately, the same report cited the school’s facilities as a major shortcoming. Existing buildings do not provide the technical and technological resources required to execute a 21st-century curriculum. Reaccreditation will begin in 2016, with
the expectation that a building project will be underway at that time.

“Mike and Ruth have stepped up as the first individual supporters of our long overdue building project. Mike’s experience as an alumnus of our school and subsequent successful career as an orthopaedic spine surgeon, bring special meaning to their support. They are literally passing on the gift of best-in-class education to future generations of physicians and researchers,” Davis said.

The Eppigs are long-time supporters of the School of Medicine, with the family having previously funded the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health and providing support to build Sears Tower at the School of Medicine in recognition of Ruth Eppig’s grandparents Lester and Ruth Sears.