Georgetown Receives Largest Philanthropic Gift in University's History

September 15, 2010

Georgetown University announced that it has received the largest philanthropic gift in its history, an $87 million endowment to support medical research at the university’s medical center.

The gift originated in a $1.2 million charitable trust established by the will of the late Harry A. Toulmin in 1965. His widow, businesswoman and philanthropist Virginia Toulmin of Dayton, Ohio, and Sarasota, Fla., managed the trust for the following 45 years and grew it to its current value. A longtime Georgetown volunteer leader, she died on June 13 at age 84.

The gift will fund the Warwick Evans and Mary Mason Washington Evans Medical Research Endowment, in honor of Harry Toulmin’s grandparents. His grandfather, Warwick Evans, was the first graduate of Georgetown’s School of Medicine in 1852, and went on to become a professor of anatomy there.

“I am deeply grateful to Harry and Virginia Toulmin for their generosity and trust in Georgetown’s ability to use these resources to create knowledge that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of others,” said John J. DeGioia, university president. “This gift will enable Georgetown to enhance our mission by strengthening and sustaining our commitment to groundbreaking medical research.”

Harry Toulmin served as an army colonel in both world wars, and was an international patent attorney and owner and director of Central Pharmaceuticals. When he died in 1965, his wife ignored the advice of the company’s attorney to sell Central Pharmaceuticals for $1 million and instead ran it for 30 years. She sold it in 1995 to Schwarz Pharma A.G., a German drug company, for $178 million.

In a 1997 interview, Virginia Toulmin said that she “couldn’t be happier” knowing that the trust’s funds would eventually support medical research. Following her death in June, Georgetown received the trust for its intended use.

“Harry really worshiped his grandfather, who was this great man – successful physician and prominent Washington figure,” Virginia Toulmin said in 1997. “Harry was a strong believer in educational institutions, and even though he didn’t graduate from Georgetown, Harry loved his grandfather and his grandfather loved Georgetown.”

Virginia Toulmin shared her husband’s devotion to Georgetown, serving as a member of the board of regents and its medical affairs committee as well as the board of visitors for the School of Nursing & Health Studies, where she established an endowed scholarship.

“I’m heartened by the insight of the Toulmins to identify research as the focus for their philanthropy,” said Howard Federoff, executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University and executive dean of the School of Medicine. “The amplifying effect of our research enterprise will translate into tangible benefits not just for the university but for the greater community, and will help lead us to our greatest potential as an institution.”

Georgetown University Medical Center conducts a wide range of medical research in such areas as the neurosciences, child health and human development, cardiovascular kidney diseases, infectious diseases, and cancer. The Georgetown University Medical Center consists of the School of Medicine, School of Nursing & Health Studies, the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Georgetown's three largest gifts to date, totaling more than $200 million, come solely or in large part from donor estates. In addition to the historic Toulmin gift, Georgetown received a $75 million gift in 2008 from the estate of Robert L. McDevitt, a 1940 Georgetown graduate, which is being used to endow faculty positions across the university. Georgetown also received $38 million from Robert McDonough, a 1949 Georgetown alumnus, originally announced in conjunction with the naming of the business school in his honor in 1998.

Author: Georgetown University Office of Communications