August 15, 2005 — A $22.5 million gift to the University of Utah School of Medicine will help the school recruit and retain top researchers and clinicians in a variety of fields, according to University officials who announced the gift today at a special ceremony. The donation is from the estate of the late Arthur E. Benning and is in honor of Mr. Benning’s parents, H.A. and Edna Benning.
Benning is the former president and chairman of the board for The Amalgamated Sugar Company. Benning spent 50 years at the Ogden, Utah-based company before retiring in 1982. He died of a heart attack at age 78 in 1990. His wife, Rosemary, died in 2004.
Benning’s decision to leave his estate to the University of Utah came, in part, after he remembered the care a colleague’s daughter had received at University of Utah Hospital. “Art was in the process of re-evaluating the selection of organizations and causes that would be the recipients of his estate. He asked for my thoughts and I mentioned one. I explained that the University of Utah had a great medical school. Art remembered my family’s great experience when the hospital saved our little 3-year-old-daughter during my first year of employment with Amalgamated,” said Allan M. Lipman, a family friend and former Benning colleague.
“I know that Art would be very proud to know that the fruits of his labor will support the important work of talented physicians and scientists here in Utah, both now, and into the future,” he said.
Annual proceeds from the gift will help fund the work of 12 faculty members, each of whom will hold an H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chair. Chair holders will be named by the president of the University.
“Endowed chairs are vital to the backbone of any University,” said University of Utah President Michael K. Young. “Having the ability to provide the University’s top researchers with this type of funding ensures that we can retain and recruit the brightest and most talented minds in the country.”
The gift also establishes what will be known as the H.A. and Edna Benning Medical Society. The group will include each of the Benning chair holders and will sponsor an annual lecture or symposium focusing on leading-edge medicine.
“The magnitude of this gift is remarkable. This funding will have lasting effects on the quality of our faculty and our national reputation,” said A. Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the University’s School of Medicine.
To date, three of the 12 H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chairs have been named. All 12 positions are expected to be filled by the end of 2006. Current holders of the H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chairs at the University of Utah are:
- Human Molecular Biology and Genetics, held by Stephen M. Prescott, M.D.
- Obstetrics and Gynecology, held by D. Ware Branch, M.D.
- Radiology, held by Edwin A. “Steve” Stevens, M.D.