Zollicoffer Symposium Launches Alumni Reconnect Campaign
In the summer of 2011, planning for the following year’s 32nd Annual Zollicoffer-Merrimon Lectureship began. Only this time, there was a bigger plan—a vision—to take this one two-hour event and turn it into a three-day symposium that would bring former administrators, former faculty and alumni back to campus for a very specific purpose.
The symposium, which was held February 16-18, launched the Alumni Reconnect Campaign, or ARC, a two-year initiative focused on re-engaging minority alumni by getting them back into an active relationship with the UNC School of Medicine and encouraging their financial support of the institution.
The three-pronged initiative is being fueled and guided by Michael L. Zollicoffer, M.D. `85, the energetic son of the late Lawrence Zollicoffer, M.D. `62, who was the fourth African-American alumnus of the School of Medicine and in whose name the lectureship was founded.
If you have ever met Michael Zollicoffer (better known as “Dr. Z”) or if you have ever heard him speak, you know that his passion for people, medicine and UNC is absolutely contagious.
“Being a doctor is a life-long commitment,” says Zollicoffer. “It’s a way of life. It isn’t just a job or even a career. It’s an investment in caring for those who need it, especially if they can’t care for themselves.”
Dr. Z brings this same genuine passion to his love for this University. It is what drives his desire to reconnect minority alumni with the School of Medicine and engage them to help provide for the next generation of physicians.
“What better investment is there,” he asks, “than in talented young people who not only want to make their future better, but ours, too?”
The ARC will focus its efforts on generating support from African-American medical alumni and for minority medical students. The campaign, said Dr. Z, has two primary goals: to raise at least $250,000 to advance important student programs and, importantly, “to motivate our alumni to become involved with the School again, to develop those relationships with each other that most certainly make for great health care professionals, and to want to give of their resources, including their time and talent as well as their financial resources.”
Three programs will be supported by the ARC: The Medical Education Development (MED) Program, the Zollicoffer Symposium and The Loyalty Fund.
The MED Program, founded in 1974, provides intensive educational experiences to underserved populations in order to help them understand both the challenges and the rewards of attending medical or dental school. To date, more than 2,900 have participated, and 90 percent have expressed a heightened interest in pursuing a career in medicine due to their experience. Of those who completed the MED program and went on to apply to medical school at UNC between 2000 and 2009, 29 percent were accepted.
The Zollicoffer Symposium, an outgrowth of the original Zollicoffer-Merrimon Lecture, is a three-day event designed to attract alumni back to UNC for inside information on the current state of their School, the opportunity to meet and connect with today’s medical students, and a chance to reconnect with old friends. This year’s Symposium included engaging talks, receptions, banquets, the presentation of awards, several well-received opportunities to mix with current medical students, and even interludes graced by music and poetry. The Symposium concluded Saturday morning with a panel on the History of the Minority Perspective.
The Loyalty Fund is the annual fund of the UNC Medical Alumni Association. It provides unrestricted resources for student scholarships and programs, as well as other educational activities for which no other funding sources exist. For example, it provides vital financial support for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Minority Men in Medicine, teaching professorships, the Health Sciences Library and medical alumni outreach.
The ARC, says Dr. Z, epitomizes what UNC and the School of Medicine are all about.
“We must lead,” he says. “We must be catalysts for change. We must not be complacent, but aim higher, represent well and leverage all the resources at our disposal. We need our alumni to commit themselves, to commit their time and their brain trust. Then I feel sure the support will follow.”
If you would like to learn more about ARC or would like to make a commitment, please contact Marie Baker, Director of Annual Giving, at 919-966-0019 or firstname.lastname@example.org.