The University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine – Tucson has received an $8.8-million gift from the estate of Dr. Ronald K. Baker, a 1975 alumnus of the college, including the largest endowed scholarship gift ever received by the college.

A significant portion of the gift, $5.9 million, will establish the Ronald K. Baker, M.D., Scholarship Endowment to support medical students at the college who have financial need. The remaining $2.9 million will establish the Ronald K. Baker Endowed Chair in Anesthesiology, which will be held by Dr. Randal O. Dull, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology.

Funding for the endowed chair will maximize the college's investments in promising research programs and faculty recruitment while also helping the UA generate additional funding to sustain and expand teaching and research in key areas. The gift provides scholarship support for current and future classes of UA medical students with a single requirement: financial need.

"This gift is an incredible vote of confidence in the enduring value of a UA education," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "I am floored by Dr. Baker's thoughtful generosity, which will have an immediate and long-term impact on the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. His legacy will live on to shape the future of medicine through research and teaching, but particularly in the careers of students who are given the opportunity to excel and become compassionate physicians, regardless of their financial circumstances."

In the United States, 75 percent of medical school students who graduated in 2018 had student loan debt, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The average debt was $196,520.

Baker, who died June 8, 2017, at the age of 70, earned two degrees at the UA: a doctorate in chemistry and a medical degree.

"Dr. Baker did not forget his time at the University of Arizona and the role it played in shaping his career," said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation. "I am so proud that it meant enough that he left his estate to benefit future generations of medical students. It's an incredible legacy."

Source: University of Arizona