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$1 million gift honors KU Medical Center leader

August 29, 2011

A new professorship in pathology and laboratory medicine will honor Barbara Atkinson, M.D., executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and executive dean of the KU School of Medicine.

The $1 million anonymous gift to KU Endowment will provide funds to establish the Barbara F. Atkinson Professorship in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Barbara Atkinson

The professorship will be in the field of cytopathology, a branch of pathology that studies and diagnoses disease at cellular level. It is used in the diagnosis of cancer, as well as infectious diseases and other conditions.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the gift acknowledges the excellence and national reputation of the department.

“The naming of the professorship for Dr. Atkinson is a fitting tribute to her many years of service at the medical center and her vision for creating a world-class cancer center,” said Gray-Little.

Atkinson said she was overwhelmed and moved by the gift and the professorship that will carry her name. “Although the last decade of my professional life has been devoted primarily to administration at the medical center, in my heart, I will always be a pathologist,” she said. “I am so proud of the outstanding work being done by the doctors and scientists every day in our Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, especially in the area of cytopathology, which is my specialty. That an endowed professorship in this department will be named after me is without a doubt the biggest honor of my career.”

Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment, expressed appreciation for the gift. “It has been rewarding to work with the donor over the past several months to create this professorship in Dr. Atkinson’s honor. It speaks volumes about the traditions of excellence at KU Medical Center, and it will make a positive impact on the cancer center’s goal to achieve designation from the National Cancer Institute,” said Seuferling.

Lowell L. Tilzer, M.D., chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, said he was delighted that the new professorship honors Dr. Atkinson, who was chair of the pathology department before being appointed Executive Dean in 2001. “Dr. Atkinson is a nationally-renowned pathologist, and as chair, she laid the foundation that was instrumental in placing our department among the best in the country,” said Tilzer.

Tilzer added that this is not the first major gift given to the pathology department recently. “Last year, we received a million-dollar donation through a bequest, and this year we received this additional million-dollar gift,” said Tilzer. “I think these gifts illustrate that the excellence of our department is being recognized.”

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
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August 29, 2011
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