EVMS receives largest family donation in school history | Real Estate | pilotonline.com
Richard Waitzer walks with a cane. His voice is a little rusty. He’s spent the past nine years trying to beat back bladder cancer, which has spread.
A pre-existing condition prevented him from getting surgery. He’s had a course of immunotherapy and is on a new protocol.
“I’m 86 years old, I’ve had a good life, beyond what most people have,” he said. “I’ll take whatever I can get.”
Though Waitzer says his illness didn’t factor into his decision to make a contribution to Eastern Virginia Medical School, he and his wife, Leah, who is 82 and living with Alzheimer’s Disease, know the value of medicine.
What they gave was not a token gesture. Their $4 million donation to help construct new classrooms and offices is the largest family donation ever given to the school.
EVMS is a hybrid public-private institution. It has received less state funding than other medical schools connected with state universities. That means it relies on privately raised money from the community.
“It’s a tremendous boon to this area,” Waitzer said. “Having a medical school here has raised the bar on health care.”
To honor the Waitzers, the school will name a new academic and administrative building after them. With most of the campus facilities named after the school’s pioneers, this will be the first to bear the name of philanthropists.
Waitzer Hall, which is set to open in fall 2020, will rise 11 stories at the corner of Brambleton and Colley avenues.
Connie McKenzie, senior associate vice president of development at EVMS, said the Waitzers’ contribution was a springboard for funding the new building, which will include three large classrooms to keep pace with the school’s rapidly growing health professions programs.
Today, EVMS has about 600 students preparing to become doctors, compared to about 800 in other programs, such as physician assistant, art therapy, clinical psychology and public health.
Richard Waitzer and his wife Leah have donated $4 million to EVMS to construct a new building on campus, Waitzer Hall, which is slated to open in fall 2020. The funding is the school’s largest private donation since its founding.
Waitzer, a real estate developer, and Leah have supported many other nonprofits in the region. But EVMS has been among their top causes. In 2012, the couple donated $1 million to establish the Murray Waitzer Endowed Chair for Diabetes Research. That donation was in memory of Richard’s father, who took daily insulin doses to control his Type 1 diabetes, sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes.
Waitzer’s brother also had diabetes. Both died from related complications, he said.
Dr. Richard Homan, president and provost of EVMS, said private donations like the Waitzers’ are a lifeblood for the institution.
“They provide the extra resources for us to be able to invest in the outstanding faculty that we have, develop new programs and create new science, new clinical programs and for EVMS to develop a national academic reputation,” he said.
The Waitzers’ children appear to be following their footsteps. Their son Bradley Waitzer, an EVMS foundation board member, has committed $250,000 to the Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology to go toward a memory center program. Their other son, Edwin Waitzer, also has committed $100,000 to the foundation’s capital campaign.
Construction for Waitzer Hall is already in progress. The new building will include classrooms, study areas, a designated student testing center, administrative offices, a fitness center and parking.
As a real estate developer, Waitzer is excited to watch a piece of dirt get turned into a school facility.
The naming is a nice legacy, too.
“But that’s just a plus,” he said. “The important thing is that they’ll get the building.”
This content was originally published here.