INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie announced today (June 15) that the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation of Indianapolis has awarded a $20 million grant to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to help fund its proposed school of public health and provide increased support for public health initiatives in Indiana.
"This is an extraordinarily generous gift that gives us great momentum as we prepare for the opening of a school of public health in Indianapolis to train future generations of public health practitioners and researchers," McRobbie said. "We are indebted to the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation board of directors for their vision, foresight, and commitment to improving the quality of life in Indiana.
IUPUI hopes to open its school of public health in the fall of 2011 after the review to renew the accreditation for the Master of Public Health program is completed.
IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz said at least 80 percent of the gift will be placed in an endowment that will provide essential funding for faculty and students.
"The impact of this gift will forever be seen in the education of students who will become tomorrow's public health professionals and researchers, in the support of ongoing public health research, and in the direct improvement of the health of the people of Indiana," Bantz said. "Part of the challenge is not only treating disease, but preventing it in the first place. Public health is about prevention."
Leonard J. Betley, chairman of the Fairbanks Foundation, said a major focus of the foundation is improving health.
“Major deficiencies in our region and state are resources, research, and trained personnel in the area of public health," Betley said. "Health studies consistently show that disease prevention through public health initiatives have a significant impact on the physical and economic health of a community. Creating a badly needed school of public health is a step long overdue, and we are pleased to be part of the effort.”
Indiana faces a number of public health challenges. It has the second highest prevalence of all states in tobacco use. Curbing tobacco use is considered to be a leading factor in reducing a wide range of illnesses and premature deaths.
The 2009 America's Health Rankings further show that Indiana is among the 10 worst states for obesity, high cholesterol, infant mortality, and deaths due to strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes.
"These statistics can all be improved, with our new school playing a key role in community-based health promotions that address these problems," Bantz said.
About the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation
The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation Inc. was established in 1986 by Richard M. Fairbanks, who was the founder and owner of Fairbanks Communications Inc. The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation is an independent, private foundation granting funds to qualifying tax-exempt organizations in the Greater Indianapolis area. The foundation has three primary focus areas: health, the vitality of Indianapolis, and sustainable employment. The foundation seeks to fund initiatives and organizations delivering impactful solutions that address key challenges facing the Indianapolis community.
For more than 50 years, Richard M. Fairbanks was a leader and innovator in radio broadcasting. His company owned and operated 20 radio stations around the country, a television station in Atlanta, cable television systems, a charter airplane company, and had interests in real estate. He established the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network when he owned and operated WIBC radio.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is a place where IMPACT is made. With more than 30,000 students, IUPUI is one of the top "up and coming" American universities that U.S. News and World Report says people should be watching, and the eighth best public college in the Midwest, according to Forbes. It offers nationally ranked programs in nursing, public and environmental affairs, law, and health, and a campus renowned for service learning and civic engagement.