By Maria Saporta
The Morehouse School of Medicine has received a $3 million gift from one of Atlanta’s most beloved couples – Henry “Hank” and Billye Suber Aaron.
The gift will be used to expand to expand the Hugh Gloster Medical Education building and create the Billye Suber Aaron Student Pavilion, the School announced on Friday.
The gift was presented during the School’s 40th anniversary and 31st fall convocation, white coat and pinning ceremony. The participating students are MSM’s largest first-year class of 159 M.D., M.P.H. and graduate students.
“Like our family, MSM has a true commitment to the Georgia community,” Hank Aaron said in a statement. “We are happy to partner in creating a facility that welcomes and educates the next generation of doctors, health care professionals and leaders for the communities we hold so dear. It is fitting that the pavilion holds my wife’s name because of her long-held commitment to education and this dedicated school’s special place in her heart.”
The Aarons have been pillars in the Atlanta community – from Hank Aaron’s record-breaking baseball career to all their philanthropic endeavors, including helping children realize their potential through the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation.
Billye Aaron was the first African American woman in the Southeast to co-host a regular daily television talk show. She has since become an Atlanta leader in community service and philanthropy, focused on providing educational opportunities to African Americans, including founding the UNICEF Mayor’s Masked Ball and in 2014 chairing the Phenomenal Women Luncheon to honor MSM’s newly appointed president and dean – Valerie Montgomery Rice – raising $600,000 in scholarships for the school’s students.
“This exceptionally generous gift is an enduring legacy of two people who clearly care about the future of medicine, science and the health and wellness of the Georgia community and the nation,” Montgomery Rice said. “Recruiting and retaining world-class faculty, ensuring cutting-edge resources for our students and providing quality health care to our patients solidifies our presence for future generations. We thank the Aarons for the confidence of this gift and applaud their ongoing commitment to community.”
MSM will break ground on the Billye Suber Aaron Student Pavilion in January 2016. It is the first phase of a planned four-part academic facilities expansion on MSM’s campus. The Billye Suber Aaron Student Pavilion is scheduled to be completed by 2017.