MCG, foundation set aside their differences

The two-year rift between the Medical College of Georgia and the MCG Foundation is over, MCG's president announced Monday.

MCG Foundation will now work "in partnership, rather than in competition" with Georgia Health Sciences University Foundation. A new development office will coordinate efforts between the two fundraising entities, Dr. Ricardo Azziz announced at a crowded news conference held in the office of MCG Alumni Affairs.

Two years ago, then-President Daniel W. Rahn asked for the resignations of MCG Foundation's board, cut ties with the foundation when its members declined to step down and established the Health Sciences Foundation.

Under the new philanthropic arrangement, MCG Foundation will focus on gift-giving by school of medicine alumni, and Georgia Health Sciences University Foundation will concentrate on the university's broader needs, including MCG Health System Inc., Azziz said.

Azziz also announced the recent dismissal, with all parties in agreement, of a lawsuit the University System had filed against MCG Foundation. The suit alleged, among other things, the MCG Foundation was using the MCG logo without permission.

On Monday, University System Chancellor Errol Davis said the restructured partnership between MCG and the two foundations "will bring a wealth of collective resources to bear in advancing MCG's mission of better health."

Despite the rift between MCG Foundation and MCG, "everybody kept doing what they needed to do to make sure the university continued to work," Azziz said.

It apparently wasn't always an easy time, and MCG Foundation "continued to support the mission," Chairman William Mayher said, "even when the funds were underwater and we had to use our unrestricted money to bring these whole and continue to pay the professors."

MCG Foundation reported $113 million in assets on its 2009 tax returns, while Health Sciences reported $9 million.

Mayher and Clay Boardman, the chairman of the Health Sciences Foundation board, spoke of their willingness to work together.

"It's been difficult and it's taken too long, but we're on the right path now," Boardman said.

Azziz and Peter Buckley, the interim dean of the school of medicine, also announced they would jump-start the twin fundraising entities' drives by contributing 21/2 percent of their annual salaries -- Azziz to health sciences, Buckley to MCG Foundation.

"We must lead by example," Azziz said. "Philanthropy starts here, and without philanthropy, I can assure you ladies and gentlemen, we will not achieve our true potential."

A graduate of MCG's class of 1964, Mayher said what was pivotal to mending MCG's rift with the foundation was Azziz himself.

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