The Samuel and Jean Frankel Foundation

A Heritage of Philanthropy

Cardiovascular Center named in honor of Samuel and Jean Frankel.

The University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center has been named in honor of the late Samuel and Jean Frankel, whose foundation provided early support for the center’s innovative model of caring for people with cardiovascular disease. On March 21, the U-M Board of Regents approved the naming to recognize the Frankels’ groundbreaking support of the center. Gifts from the Frankels to advance health care and culture at the U-M are among the most generous in school history, and their heritage of philanthropy has elevated scholarship and culture worldwide.

A $25 million gift from the Samuel and Jean Frankel Foundation to the U-M Cardiovascular Center was announced anonymously when the center opened in 2007, and the naming marks the first time the donor has been named publicly. That gift offered immediate support for the Cardiovascular Center’s clinical approach, a model never before attempted by a health care institution, which emphasizes cooperation among health care providers and puts patients and families first.

An additional $25 million was pledged to recognize the center accomplishing specific goals agreed upon by the donor and leaders of the center. Pleased with the success in meeting those goals, the family has committed the latest gift. 

“It is with enormous pride that we are affiliated with Samuel and Jean Frankel, whose belief allowed us to create a path for others to follow,” says Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., U-M executive vice president for medical affairs and chief executive officer of the Health System.

“The gift guarantees that innovative approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of patients and families with cardiovascular disease will continue at Michigan and provide a national model,” Pescovitz says.

Highlights of that model are patientand family-centered care, and cooperation, excellence and results in all areas of the center’s operations: clinical care, research and education.

The Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center’s four physician directors and chief administrative officer call the gift an investment in the future of health care. “Medical professionals often work in the ‘silo’ of their own specialty, partly because of tradition and partly due to financial incentives that encourage an ‘everyone-for-themselves’ mentality. The directors of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center are striving to change that, and prove that there is a better way,” according to the leaders.

In addition to providing worldclass care for their own patients, CVC members are leading efforts to improve the quality of care for heart attack, heart failure, heart surgery, angioplasty, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease at numerous Michigan hospitals. Published results of those efforts will enable doctors and hospitals nationwide to learn from them.

The Frankel Cardiovascular Center brings together all of the U-M Health System’s specialists in preventing, treating and studying heart disease, blood vessel disorders and stroke — from cardiac surgeons and intensive-care nurses to laboratory scientists, cardiologists and heart-imaging specialists. Named one of the nation’s top heart and vascular centers by many organizations, the 5-level facility includes operating rooms, clinics, inpatient beds, and indoor and outdoor healing gardens.

No matter where they are treated, patients are cared for by teams that include members of different medical and surgical specialties — all working together to determine the best course of diagnostic testing, medication, procedures, operations and preventive strategies for each patient. This repretop: courtesy of the frankel center for judaic studies sents a change of culture for medicine in that it emphasizes teamwork — between health care providers, patients and families.

The Frankels were generous donors to the Center for Jewish Studies in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The center was renamed the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies in recognition of their support.

Once students at LSA , Jean Frankel (B.A. 1936) and her husband, longtime Detroit-area real estate developer Samuel Frankel, provided funding in 2004 to create the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, which was the largest gift to LSA at the time.

“Jean and Samuel Frankel have made a lasting impact on our university with their generosity. Their deep support of the CVC has had an equally profound effect on the lives of patients and their families, which makes their gift all the more transformative,” says University President Mary Sue Coleman, Ph.D.

In line with the donor’s vision, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center will continue to be led by a team. The four directors — cardiologist Kim Eagle, M.D.; cardiologist David Pinsky, M.D.; cardiac surgeon Richard Prager, M.D.; and vascular surgeon James Stanley, M.D. – will ensure the gift is used to further the CVC ’s mission and vision.

Melvin Lester, M.D., special assistant to the U-M executive vice president for medical affairs, has served as an advisor to UMHS leadership and center directors on major gifts and program planning. 

“The ultimate test of the wisdom of this venture is the Frankel Cardiovascular Center’s contribution to the improvement in the well-being of those who are threatened by the world’s leading cause of death: cardiovascular disease,” Lester says. “We are poised for this challenge and ready to make a difference.”

—SHANTELL KIRKENDOLL and WHITLEY HILL