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Physician educator gives $1 million for Health Education Building

March 8, 2016

Gifts large and small have laid the foundation of the new Health Education Building under construction at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

A $1 million gift to the KU Endowment from Diane J. Klepper, of Albuquerque, will support the construction of the Health Education Building, which is being built on the prominent corner of 39th Street and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas.

Diane Klepper, M.D.

Klepper, a Wichita native, is a pulmonologist who graduated from KU with a bachelor of arts degree in 1956 and doctor of medicine degree from the KU School of Medicine in 1964. She taught physical education for a short time before deciding to go to medical school, where she was one of two women in her graduating class of 100.

She was attracted to New Mexico from trips there as a child, and after her residency she received a one-year fellowship in pulmonary disease at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. From there, she became the dean of admissions and student affairs at the school, a position she held for 31 years and one that gave her the opportunity to influence potential female students.

“I think my presence in that position really did help attract women to our medical school,” she said.

Klepper said the methods of education at the KU School of Medicine were influential in her approach as a doctor and an educator. “The faculty taught physical diagnosis, which is something I used to my advantage all the way through my career,” she said. “Having that experience with really good teachers and clinicians allowed me to pick up a lot of things that were really important.”

She stressed the importance of helping students by providing educational facilities that are conducive to training them through observation and evaluation.

“Being a student advocate as a dean of student affairs is one of the things that made me want to support the educational building,” Klepper said.

KU has the only medical school in Kansas and is nationally recognized for training primary care and rural physicians.

“Interprofessional education has become a critical component of the curricula for medicine, nursing and the health professions,” said Douglas A. Girod, M.D., executive vice chancellor for the University of Kansas Medical Center. “Our new Health Education Building provides functional spaces that allow for collaboration to improve clinical teams, communication and, ultimately, patient safety. I thank Dr. Klepper for helping to make this new building possible through her generosity.”

The new building also will facilitate a change in how medical students are taught.

“Donors like Dr. Klepper have been instrumental in helping us create a facility that features a simulation center and flexible learning spaces. This will support the School of Medicine’s new competency-based curriculum,” said Robert D. Simari, M.D., executive dean for the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Fundraising continues in support of construction for the new building. It is being funded through a combination of private philanthropy, state bonds and KU funds. To date, donors have committed more than $37 million, which includes a $25 million lead gift from the Hall Family Foundation.

Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2017.

The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.

The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, 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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March 8, 2016
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