Dean's Update 2022-03

March 28, 2022

Living Legacies of Osteopathic Giving: the Michigan Osteopathic College Foundation Endowment and Gala

Over 60 years ago, osteopathic physicians in the state of Michigan set out on an audacious goal: to establish a new osteopathic medical school, something that hadn’t been done in the profession for over 50 years. As we know, those founders met their goal, which culminated in the formation of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Their efforts at that time required a significant fundraising effort, so they formed the Michigan Osteopathic College Foundation (MOCF), which sponsored a number of fundraising events to meet the challenge.

At the time, members of the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (MAOPS—now known as the Michigan Osteopathic Association or MOA) voluntarily “taxed” themselves $2,000 each—the equivalent of $19,000 today! These funds were directed towards the MOCF effort to establish MSUCOM. The contributions were especially significant as many MAOPS members were just entering residencies and raising families and yet they still donated to the cause.

After MSUCOM was established, the MOCF continued in its fundraising activities. In 2005, guided by the shrewd leadership of then-MOCF President Eugene Oliveri, DO, the MOCF transferred a sizable corpus of funds—$2.8 million—to the college to create the COM-MOCF endowment, with the singular goal of using the proceeds generated toward “furthering osteopathic education.” Together, the current MOCF Board of Directors meets with me as Dean to determine how best to utilize this incredible resource.

As a result, a number of student-focused initiatives have been directly supported by the MOCF endowment, including international clinical experiences, research activities, and most importantly, student scholarships. Students apply through a scholarship application process, and a scholarship committee decides the final number of awards and amounts. In 2021-22 alone, $273,000 was awarded to students across 42 scholarships. The scholarships range from $2,000 to $36,000, and are awarded based on merit and need.

Dr. Katherine Ruger, Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Life, notes that, “Our students work incredibly hard to achieve their career goals. The MOCF scholarships make an immediate and transformative impact on a student’s life. The scholarships help to ease their worry about medical school debt so they can focus on their education, and it makes their dream of becoming a doctor possible.”

In the original establishment of the MOCF endowment, there was also an articulated vision to continue the spirit of past MOCF fundraising evemocf-thumb.jpgnts, and this initiated what we all now know as the annual MOCF ball. The ball is a significant fundraising event that adds to the MOCF endowment principal balance, while also being an elegant and enjoyable affair with over 700 guests—including students, alumni, partners, donors, faculty and staff—and remains a memorable medical school experience for many alumni.

We thank our longtime sponsors, donors and funders, as well as the MOCF board, for the long-lasting impact they continue to make in patient and community health by investing in our students via participation in the MOCF ball.

When the ball cannot be held in person—such as for the past two years due to the pandemic—the college pivots to a virtual Student Impact Initiative, allowing donors to stay engaged and continue to contribute to our college’s mission. Even without a glitzy gala, our friends always financially support our college: the 2021 Student Impact Initiative raised $385,000, while the 2022 virtual event raised $435,000, all of which is transferred to the principal balance of the endowment. If you’d like to support our college and students, please give today!

As a result of these efforts through the years, coupled with voluntary (indeed, extraordinary!) efforts led by Kimberly Lamacchia and the MSU Dean’s Office, and many other COM staff and students, the current market value of the College of Osteopathic Medicine MOCF endowment is at $16.8 million dollars, and is one of the largest endowments at MSU. It is anticipated that in 2022-23 there will be over $504,000 available to support a variety of student-focused missions of the college.

As we look forward toward the needs of the college over the next 50 years, including our strategic goals to improve the student experience in all domains of their education, as well the long-acknowledged need for a new COM medical school building on our East Lansing campus, I hope we can match the dedication and tenacity of our founders, for in their example, we have proof that lofty goals require forward thinking, dedication and sacrifice, but in undertaking those efforts, we have great examples of what wondrous outcomes lay ahead of us!

Andy Amalfitano