For the second time since 2009, the University of Minnesota will attach a donor's name to its pediatric hospital in Minneapolis as a result of a multimillion-dollar gift.
U officials announced a $25 million gift for children's health care Tuesday from Minnesota Masonic Charities, a philanthropic group that has now given more than $125 million to the university over 60 years.
In 2009, Caroline Amplatz pledged $50 million to name the U's pediatric hospital for her father, a retired professor and founder of a Twin Cities medical device company. The Amplatz name went away in March, university officials said, after the donor fulfilled her gift ahead of schedule and permitted the U to offer naming rights to another benefactor.
"It is unusual," U President Eric Kaler said Tuesday of the decision, which he said was driven by "generosity on her part."
By raising $75 million connected to the two gifts, the U is in the "middle of the pack," Kaler said, for funds raised by deals for hospital naming rights.
"When you look across the country, the naming gifts and donations to hospitals vary pretty widely," he said. "I think probably the biggest number I can think of is about $300 million, but certainly there are hospitals named for less."
In 2008, Minnesota Masonic Charities provided the U with its largest-ever gift of $65 million, which resulted in naming the Masonic Cancer Center on the U's East Bank campus.
"We've done this before. I hope we can do it some more," said Eric Neetenbeek, president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities, during an event Tuesday outside the West Bank medical center.
"It's a very generous gift," Kaler said. "It's going to enable additional research and patient care for our pediatric patients."
The new name — University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital — is effective immediately. The U's pediatric hospital was located on the East Bank campus until 2011, when the university opened a new, $275 million facility on Riverside Avenue.
At that point, the hospital was named University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. After the decision by Amplatz this March, the hospital was renamed University of Minnesota Children's Hospital.
Beyond $50 million to help build the pediatric hospital, Amplatz made an additional gift of $11.2 million to improve the hospital's pediatric behavioral health facilities. She also pledged $1 million to support medical research through the Amplatz Scholars Research Award.
The $25 million gift from Minnesota Masonic Charities will go toward enhancing patient care for families, and advancing research in areas such as neurobehavioral development, rare and infectious disease, and stem cell therapies for children. Last year, the hospital cared for children from 80 of Minnesota's 87 counties. It averages 6,700 inpatient stays per year.
"What we're doing here is really all about training physicians, and looking at treatment modalities that will result in cures and better treatments," said Neetenbeek of Minnesota Masonic Charities. "They do wonderful things now. But with more money, you can always do more."
The pediatric hospital is technically a portion of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, which is on the U's East Bank campus and jointly managed by the U and Fairview Health Services.
So far, the hospital for adults hasn't been a magnet for a naming-rights deal.
"This hospital — the pediatric hospital — has resonated with our donor community to a greater degree than the adult hospital has," Kaler said in an interview. "But that doesn't mean we're not still looking for donors for the adult hospital. We'd take one, for sure."