School of Medicine and Dentistry Alumnus Donates $1 Million

November 07, 2007

Paul F. Griner, M.D., a 1959 graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and former general director of Strong Memorial Hospital, has donated $1 million to the School in support of merit scholarships.

While he has had a long involvement with the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the hospital, Griner said an encounter with a dean of another medical school motivated him to increase his giving to Rochester’s medical school. That dean told Griner: “You can always spot a graduate of Rochester. They know what they’re doing at the bedside.”

“That says it all as far as I’m concerned,” Griner said. “I want to do my part so that students from Rochester always deserve that wonderful compliment.”

In 2004, David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, announced a campaign to raise $10 million for medical school scholarships to help alleviate student debt. During this year’s School of Medicine and Dentistry reunion in September, the dean reported that the campaign has reached the goal with more than $10 million in gifts and pledges. Guzick also set a new goal: an additional $15 million by 2010.

The total medical school indebtedness of students at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, including the graduating Class of 2007, was $27.6 million. Almost 90 percent of the students had accumulated medical debt. The average graduate debt was $131,881.

“It is critical that we endow both need-based and merit-based scholarships to ensure the future success of our students and our School,” Guzick said. “It is always exciting when an alumnus thinks enough of our School to make a significant gift. As an endowed fund, Paul Griner's gift will greatly reduce the financial burden of generations of Rochester medical students in the years to come.’

A reception to salute Griner for his gift will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday Nov. 15 in the Evarts Lounge in the School of Nursing’s Helen Wood Hall, 255 Crittenden Blvd.

Griner, who now lives in Boston, said he has visited and observed many medical schools.

“None have met the test of excellence I have always attributed to Rochester — great balance among its missions, a high priority on the education of students, the focus on the care of the whole patient, and a wealth of opportunities in research,” he said.

A graduate of Harvard College, Griner received his M.D. degree with honor. He completed an internship and residency in medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and served as chief resident in medicine and fellow in hematology at Strong Memorial Hospital. He remained on the faculty at Rochester rising to the rank of professor and held the Samuel E. Durand Chair of Medicine.

From 1984 to 1995, Griner was general director and chief executive officer of Strong Memorial. He was a leader in the development of hospital programs designed to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care. He now serves as a consultant to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Cambridge, Mass., where he has helped organize a collaborative of schools of medicine, nursing and pharmacy to develop learning objectives for the improvement of care. He also is a consultant at Massachusetts General Hospital and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School, serving as a mentor for faculty in the general medicine unit of the Department of Medicine.

Griner was elected in 1986 to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He served as both chair of the board and president of the American College of Physicians.

Griner remembers a “year out” program he participated in at the School of Medicine and Dentistry as a fellow in pathology. He performed more than 120 autopsies.

“That year was the greatest experience of my life,” he said. “I learned how diseases affected the organs of the body. It made an enormous difference in my clinical years. I could always visualize what I was hearing or feeling. I wish all students could have the opportunities I had during my medical school years. I graduated without debt, but the costs of medical education today make it difficult for students to get through the basic curriculum without debt — let alone take advantage of opportunities for additional training. I hope my contribution will help some students realize what might not have otherwise been possible. That’s what I want this merit scholarship to achieve.”

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