May 18, 2006

Ryans' endowment expands bioethics program

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An endowment by long-time supporters of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's law school and its health policy program will expand a visiting lecture series devoted to bioethics.

John C. and Marsha G. Ryan of rural Murphysboro are providing funding to create the John and Marsha Ryan Bioethicist-in-Residence Endowment.

Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said the gift reflects the couple's continuing commitments to excellence and the University.

"John and Marsha Ryan continue to lead our University community with this gift. It will help us build an even stronger health policy program in the School of Law, including the critical component of bioethics," Wendler said.

Marsha Ryan, a past president of the SIU Foundation's Board, also serves as campaign chair for SIUC's first comprehensive capital campaign, "Opportunity Through Excellence."

"Marsha and John provide clear leadership for the campaign," Wendler said. "They also set a personal example with this gift and we are very appreciative of their generosity."

The gift, approximately $125,000, also represents the Ryans' personal contribution to the University's capital campaign, which has a goal of $100 million.

"This gift is just another example of the commitment the Ryans have for SIUC," said Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and CEO of the SIU Foundation. "They

do not only do what you ask of them. They often lead the way by doing before you ask. This gift will benefit both our School of Medicine and School of Law and further underscore the positive relationship between the medical and legal communities."

Dean Peter C. Alexander said: "We appreciate all of the contributions that John and Marsha Ryan have made to the School of Law. We are proud of their accomplishments and we are pleased that they continue to be financial partners with us."

A Carbondale surgeon, Marsha Ryan earned her law degree from SIUC in 1987. John Ryan, a partner in the Carbondale law firm, Feirich, Mager, Green, Ryan, was a member of the law school's inaugural graduating class of 1976.

In addition to enhancing the existing program for law school students, the endowment offers new benefits for SIU School of Medicine students and the community. The endowment will provide a four- to five-day visit by a leading bioethicist scholar at both the law school and School of Medicine in Springfield. The visiting scholar also will present a seminar to first-year medical students and law students in Carbondale.

The program will also provide "an excellent opportunity for the School of Law, in concert with the SIU School of Medicine, to offer programming in the Springfield area. This program is a great boost to our Center for Health Law and Policy," said Scott Kruger, director of development for the law school.

The law and medical schools have a unique and "extremely positive" relationship, said law school professor W. Eugene Basanta, the Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law.

"This gift further augments that very positive relationship," said Basanta, explaining that the interdisciplinary programming shared by the two schools provides meaningful opportunities for students in both schools.

"One theme of our program is that when attorneys and physicians work together to address societal and policy problems, the public ends up better served by the interdisciplinary, interprofessional dialogue," he said.

Marsha Ryan said she and her husband wanted to expand the bioethicist visit from two days at the law school to providing joint programs for law and medical students.

Ryan emphasized that current medical advances and the issues they create are connected to bioethics. A bioethicist-in-residence provides students "a chance to think about these issues in an academic setting because these are issues they are going to be faced with in clinical settings in the future."

The gift is a way to further a unique mix of law and medicine offered at SIUC, John Ryan said. The University has an established JD/MD program.

"Our gift is a reflection of our long-standing commitment to the School of Law and in particular, its law and medicine program," John Ryan said. "We feel it is a unique educational opportunity in Illinois and provides a great service to professionals in both fields."

Marsha Ryan and her brother, anesthesiologist Mark J. Garwin of Cobden, are the children of Leo and Ruth Garwin, who were founding members of the Garwin Family Foundation and the Garwin JD/MD Scholarship Fund. The foundation, established in 1993 to foster educational and academic research, provides funding for many activities, including the Garwin Distinguished Professor of Law and Medicine and the Grayson Distinguished Lecture. That lecture honors Ruth Garwin's brother, Arthur Grayson, a Los Angeles surgeon who died in 1990.

Offering a progressive education to graduate and professional students and pursing leadership opportunities to address social and health issues in our region are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.