July 20, 2005

New professorship focuses on medicine, law

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale law school is more than 50 percent of its way toward funding of a second named professorship.

The Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law professorship will recognize a senior law school faculty member who has given much to the school throughout their career, Dean Peter C. Alexander said.

There are gifts and pledges of more than $150,000, with the lead gift coming from Southern Illinois Healthcare Inc., Alexander said. “We are grateful to Southern Illinois Healthcare and to the many friends of that organization for their donations which are making this professorship possible,” he said.

The professorship, which has not been designated, will be tied to law, medicine and health law policy issues. The professor will be invited to present a lecture at the investiture ceremony, which Alexander hopes will happen before the end of the calendar year.

“We are very pleased,” said Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and CEO of the SIU Foundation. “One of the goals of Southern @150 is to increase our private support for endowments. This is another example of a great partnership between SIH and SIU.”

The Garwin Distinguished Professor of Law and Medicine is the law school’s first named professorship.

The new named professorship is significant for a law school established 33 years ago Alexander said.

“It shows that we are becoming a law school with many of the same attributes that the top-ranked national law schools have,” Alexander said. “We have an increasing endowment, an outstanding lawyering skills program and extraordinary clinics. We have professors who have achieved notoriety appropriate to have the title, ‘Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law.’ ”

Southern Illinois Healthcare has had a strong relationship with the law school for many years, SIH President and CEO Dr. Thomas J. Firestone said. There is a mutual interest in health law policy issues that affect access and quality of care, he said.

For seven years SIH and the law school’s Health Policy Institute have brought together some of the nation’s leading experts to discuss significant medical issues. The institute in May focused on medical malpractice.

“It is our belief that strengthening this program will improve the quality of care and increase access to care for the people of Southern Illinois,” he said. “It is also important that we have a great resource that is very knowledgeable in health law policy matters.

“Because of that strength we have been able to get attention from Springfield on health policy matters, and so this is another step toward strengthening our presence as leaders in health policy and law,” Firestone said.

Bill Sherwood, vice president/general counsel for Southern Illinois Healthcare Inc., noted that 25 years ago, hospitals contacted attorneys on an occasional basis for guidance on legal issues. Today, every major health care facility has in-house counsel, he said.

The health care industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the nation, and it is “virtually impossible to run a large health care organization without legal guidance,” he said.

“Having a law school here in Carbondale that is attempting to train new attorneys in providing education in health law is very exciting,” Sherwood said.

For information on donating to the professorship, contact Scott M. Kruger, director of development for the law school and associate director of institutional advancement at 618/453-8723.

Creating 50 endowed chairs and 100 endowed professorships to aid in hiring and retaining excellent faculty is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.