The Founding Dean Cynda Ann Johnson Vision Fund at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has reached the $1 million mark in gift commitments just five months after Johnson’s retirement. The mark was met thanks to a new finishing gift from Carilion Clinic, in addition to almost 150 gifts from individuals over the last year.

Johnson announced her intent to retire in February 2018, but stayed in the role until the end of the calendar year as the search for her replacement began. Lee Learman was announced as the new dean in January 2019.

Soon after Johnson announced she would retire, the school established the vision fund as a permanent tribute to her legacy. Efforts to establish the fund and seek gifts were led in part by the school’s Dean’s Council on Advancement advisory board. As founding dean, Johnson built the school from the ground up and provided leadership over the medical school for almost 11 years.

The school began asking for gifts for the fund in her honor from community members, faculty and friends of the school, supporters and friends of Johnson, alumni, staff, and students about a year ago. Those efforts yielded gifts and commitments from nearly 150 individual donors, including all members of the class of 2019, totaling almost $850,000. Carilion Clinic revealed their plans this week to direct a finishing gift of approximately $150,000 to get the fund to $1 million.

“Cynda took the vision set forward by the late Ed Murphy and Charles Steger and made it even better,” said Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic. “The medical school surpassed expectations throughout Cynda’s tenure. This contribution to her vision fund is Carilion’s way of honoring her accomplishments, passion, and collaborative spirit and deepening our commitment to the future of the VTC School of Medicine.”

“The outpouring of support from all of those who have contributed to the vision fund has been humbling and proud for me at the same time,” said Johnson. “Being founding dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine was the crowning jewel to my career. I’m touched that part of what I leave behind – this fund in my name – will allow the school’s current and future leaders a real edge to try new and innovative things to continue producing future physician thought leaders.”

The vision fund will provide much needed resources to continue evolving the innovative curriculum, student support, ongoing faculty development, and entrepreneurial programming that Johnson helped pioneer for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. The school’s dean will have discretion in spending money from the fund for various initiatives.

“Cynda has not only created an innovative medical school with top students and faculty, but now this vision fund in her honor will help me and any future deans continue to build on what she started here and stay at the forefront of medical education,” said Learman. He officially begins his tenure July 1.

Learman, along with Johnson and Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, attended Saturday’s commencement for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, where Agee was this year’s keynote speaker. In her remarks, Agee announced Carilion Clinic’s finishing gift in celebrating Johnson, welcoming Learman, thanking members of the Class of 2019 for their generosity to the fund, and wishing them success in their medical careers. Carilion Clinic has also designated funds to be distributed to the medical school for student scholarships.

For more about the fund or to make a gift, visit the medical school’s giving website.

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