Medical College receives $50 million gift from Kern Family Foundation

Will support MCW's existing Kern Institute

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Waukesha-based Kern Family Foundation has pledged $50 million to the Medical College of Wisconsin, in its second major philanthropic contribution to MCW in the past five years.

The gift builds upon $37.9 million give by the foundation to MCW in 2017 to establish the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education, which is housed on MCW’s Wauwatosa campus and focuses on developing new methods for training medical students.

The new $50 million gift will advance the efforts of the institute as well as the Kern National Network for Caring and Character in Medicine, which launched alongside the institute in 2017 and now includes MCW and six other founding member schools.

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“This transformational investment will help us reshape the profession of medicine to benefit learners, physicians, and their patients,” said Dr. John Raymond, Sr., president and chief executive officer of MCW. “The generosity and leadership of the Kern Family Foundation supports our shared commitment to driving fundamental changes to how patients and families receive medical care and moves us further toward our goal of advancing health for all through human flourishing, character and caring.”

The $50 million gift designates $10 million as a matching opportunity to inspire additional support from philanthropists and foundations with an interest in transforming medical education and the profession.

The Kern Family Foundation was established in 1998 by Robert and Patricia Kern, founders of Town of Genesee-based Generac Power Systems. Its giving targets initiatives that have long-term, systemic impact, according to its website.

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Total giving from the Kern family and its foundation to the institute and network now adds up to $87.9 million. A $1 million gift from former MCW board chair Steve Roell and his wife Shelagh endowed a chair for the director of the Kern Institute, now held by Dr. Adina Kalet.

“The foundation is delighted to renew our support in the visionary leadership at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the teams working to integrate character, caring, practical wisdom, and flourishing into the training of physicians and other health professionals,” said James Rahn, president of the Kern Family Foundation. “Since their launch in 2017, the Kern Institute has become a catalyst for transformation within MCW and a recognized thought leader in medical education, while the Kern National Network has begun to coalesce a network of leaders and institutions that is poised to grow and impact the practice of medicine, the lives of health care professionals, and the communities they serve.”

In addition to MCW, the Kern National Network founding member schools are Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

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Since the start of 2022, local and national philanthropists have announced philanthropic investments of more than $114.2 million for MCW and the Froedtert Hospital Foundation, including gifts for rare cancers research, patient care programs at Froedtert Hospital and advancing precision medicine, according to a news release.

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