The Dothan eye surgeon who gave a $95 million gift to UAB and now has the university’s medical school named after him says that making the gift made “one of the dreams in my life come true.”
“This is one of the most thrilling days of my life,” Dr. Marnix E. Heersink said during a press conference today at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The UAB School of Medicine will now be the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine following the $95 million lead gift from the doctor and longtime UAB supporter.
Though he didn’t graduate from UAB, three of his children did, and that was “influential” in his and his wife, Mary, making the largest philanthropic commitment in the university’s history.
“The School of Medicine in Birmingham is just top-notch, and they were accepted, fortunately, and they’ve thrived,” Heersink said of his children. “We realized this is a school we need to support.” In addition to the name of the medical school, the gift will establish and name the Marnix E. Heersink Institute of Biomedical Innovation and the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health.
UAB will enhance the gift from Heersink with a $5 million contribution from Triton Health Systems, and Dr. Selwyn Vickers, UAB’s senior vice president of medicine and dean of the School of Medicine, called the Heersink gift “transformative.”
“On behalf of the School of Medicine and all the people we serve across Alabama, the nation and the world — now and in the years to come — I sincerely thank Dr. Heersink,” Vickers said. “This act of tremendous generosity reflects his heart for service and the scale of our shared ambition for the UAB School of Medicine to be a global leader in biomedical discovery and innovation, medical training and patient care. It is a powerful affirmation of the unlimited potential of our school and reinforces what we have always known: that UAB truly is a world-class institution.”
Heersink expressed hope that his gift would have not only a local impact, but a national and global impact, too.
“What’s going on at UAB is fantastic,” he said. “Our family is so appreciative for the opportunity to be part of this.”