2012 / July

Young Donor Gives Savings to Campus Revitalization

Young Donor Gives Savings to Campus Revitalization

July 13, 2012

On June 28, Columbia University Medical Center Board of Visitors Chair P. Roy Vagelos, M.D., met with seven-year-old Elizabeth Lee over milk and cookies to discuss her donation to CUMC’s Campus Revitalization initiative. Elizabeth’s parents, James Lee, M.D., and Gretchen Crist, M.D., met while students at the College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S). When Elizabeth learned that her parents’ alma mater was creating a new Medical and Graduate Education Building, she ran to her room and came back with her piggy bank.

“She asked to make a donation of two dollars, which is a lot for her,” said Dr. Lee, assistant director of CUMC’s Simulation Program. “She was so excited to know it would go to help teach new doctors.”

Elizabeth’s donation may be comparatively small, but it is certainly generous in spirit and represents the kind of philanthropy that will revitalize the CUMC campus. To show his appreciation, Dr. Vagelos invited Elizabeth and her parents to P&S for a meeting. Elizabeth presented her piggy bank and donation to Dr. Vagelos, who thanked her for her generosity and stressed the importance of gifts like hers to completing the Medical and Graduate Education Building.

The building will be a 14-story glass tower incorporating technologically advanced classrooms and collaboration spaces to reflect how medicine is and will be taught, learned, and practiced in the 21st century. The design is targeting a LEED-Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and incorporates new green spaces with stunning views of the Hudson River to encourage rest and contemplation. The anchor of a revitalized CUMC campus, the building is still searching for more donors with Elizabeth’s philanthropic spirit.

After receiving Elizabeth’s donation, Dr. Vagelos served her milk and cookies and the two discussed their summer plans. Elizabeth is going to Martha’s Vineyard with her parents before she enters second grade this fall. Dean Lee Goldman, M.D., also joined them and thanked Elizabeth for coming to learn more about the building.

As she prepared to leave, Elizabeth collected the leftover cookies, which her mother, Dr. Crist, agreed she could bring home to her brother. On her way out, she was asked to return in a few years to see the completed Medical and Graduate Education Building. “Okay,” she said. Maybe she will even come back to P&S one day for medical school. “Probably,” she added.

To learn more about how you can help the campus revitalization initiative, please contact Marissa Nemirofsky, campaign manager, at (212) 342-0094 and man2136@columbia.edu.