UNC receives $10 million commitment for art collection, heart disease research

Dr. Hugh A. “Chip” McAllister Jr. of Houston has made a $10 million commitment to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that will include a collection of nearly 50 works of art for the Ackland Art Museum and expand an endowment dedicated to heart disease research at the School of Medicine.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Dr. Hugh A. “Chip” McAllister Jr. of Houston has made a $10 million commitment to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that will include a collection of nearly 50 works of art for the Ackland Art Museum and expand an endowment dedicated to heart disease research at the School of Medicine.

The gift was announced today (April 12). McAllister is a 1966 School of Medicine alumnus.

“This gift will transform our teaching, research and public service in multiple ways,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “It provides a new educational experience for our students and the entire community through some of the best examples available of American art and contemporary sculpture. Equally important, the gift will support the groundbreaking and life-saving cardiovascular research conducted by our faculty in the School of Medicine.”

The portion of the commitment benefiting the Ackland Art Museum — valued at $5.5 million — is the single largest gift of art in the museum’s history. Included in the gift will be signature works by 19th-century painters Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran; examples by members of the Taos School, such as Oscar Berninghaus, E. L. Blumenschein and Joseph Sharp; and contemporary sculpture by Willem de Kooning, Allan Houser, Jesus Moroles and Reuben Nakian. Several examples of American Indian pottery and textiles also are included.

“We’re very fortunate to receive such a wonderful gift,” said Emily Kass, museum director.  “This art will add important breadth to our American collection, particularly in the area of art depicting the west and southwestern United States. These works offer students, alumni, faculty, researchers and visitors a new and profound experience of American art at the Ackland.”

In all, McAllister’s commitment will include more than 150 paintings, sculptures and artifacts. Pieces not going to the Ackland will be sold, with the proceeds — $2.5 million — going to expand an existing endowment supporting the UNC McAllister Heart Institute at the School of Medicine and early career cardiovascular medicine researchers. McAllister also is committing $2 million to support the institute. Recognized nationally and internationally as one of the most prominent cardiac pathologists in the United States before his retirement from the Texas Heart Institute in Houston in 2000, McAllister now has contributed more than $18 million to the University over the past 15 years, primarily to the institute.

“Chip is a great friend of the School of Medicine who deeply believes in and supports our faculty and students as they explore and discover treatments and cures for heart disease. For that, we are forever grateful,” said Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and chief executive officer of UNC Health Care. “What is remarkable about this gift is that it will ensure the preservation of and accessibility to great American art, while also bettering the health of our citizens here in North Carolina and beyond.”

“I deeply admire and respect UNC-Chapel Hill as an institution,” said McAllister. “I’m happy to be able to support its extraordinary mission to serve the people of North Carolina. Being able to share my love of American art while simultaneously helping to eradicate the most deadly disease in the U.S. fulfills a dream for me.”

After graduating from Davidson College, McAllister completed medical school at UNC in 1966 and then began a military career as an intern at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After training at the Armed Services Institute of Pathology, he served as the institute’s chair of cardiac pathology until his retirement at the rank of colonel in 1984.

McAllister then joined the Texas Heart Institute as the founding chair of the department of cardiac pathology and served until his retirement in 2000. His father, Hugh A. McAllister Sr., received a medical degree from UNC in 1935 and practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Lumberton. They are the only father and son to serve as presidents of the UNC Medical Alumni Association and to receive the School of Medicine’s Distinguished Medical Alumni Award. In honor of Chip McAllister’s many contributions to cardiovascular medicine and to the University, the UNC McAllister Heart Institute was named in his honor in 2009.

The institute provides a world-class environment for basic, preclinical and applied cardiovascular research that attracts more than $15 million annually in research funding. Executive Director Dr. Cam Patterson has led the institute since 2000 and has more than 120 publications to his credit. Patterson is a member of several editorial boards, including Circulation and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. He received the 2012 Judah Folkman Award for outstanding contributions from vascular biologists. In addition to his role at the McAllister institute, Patterson is chief of the division of cardiology, physician-in-chief of the Center for Heart and Vascular Care and associate dean for health care entrepreneurship. He received his master of business administration from Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2008.

Researchers in more than 45 labs at the institute work in areas such as blood vessel formation, cardiac stem cells, genetics, blood clotting and metabolism to advance the care of patients with diseases of the heart, blood and circulation. The institute added 17 labs in the past year. Investigators include Dr. Arjun Deb, the first UNC winner of the prestigious Katz Basic Science Research Award of the American Heart Association; Dr. Nigel Mackman, director, the recipient of the highest honor from the American Heart Association for research in arteriosclerosis, thrombosis and vascular biology; and Dr. Marschall Runge, executive dean of the School of Medicine and medicine department chair who won the 2010 Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award from the American College of Cardiology.

The Ackland Art Museum, an academic unit, serves broad local, state and national constituencies. The museum’s permanent collection consists of more than 16,000 works of art, featuring North Carolina’s premier collections of Asian art and works of art on paper (drawings, prints and photographs), as well as significant collections of European masterworks, 20th-century and contemporary art, African art and North Carolina pottery. The Ackland organizes more than a dozen special exhibitions a year.

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