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$1.1 Million Gift Supports Women’s Health at MU

Gift will fund chair at School of Medicine

Oct. 16, 2009

Story Contact(s):
Kelsey Jackson,, (573) 882-8353

 COLUMBIA, Mo. – A donation of $1.1 million to the University of Missouri will enhance women’s health care by advancing leadership and teaching in the MU School of Medicine. George Huggins and Jean Baker committed a significant portion of their estate to establish a chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health. An additional gift will provide scholarships for students in the School of Medicine.

“Four decades ago, George Huggins left Mizzou filled with inspiration,MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said. “In his years of teaching at three universities, he shaped the practices of thousands of physicians. He spread his knowledge through his published research and service in professional organizations. The lives of countless women and children are better because of Dr. Huggins. Jean Baker has supported his work, while touching lives through her own service. Now, George and Jean are ensuring that physicians of the future will benefit from the highest quality teaching.”
The couple’s gift will establish the George Huggins and Jean Baker Endowed Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health. The fund will provide permanent, recurring resources that will allow the School of Medicine to enhance teaching, research and patient care. Their gift also will create the George Huggins and Jean Baker Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“When I was in medical school and a junior faculty person, there was a lot of protected time for full-time faculty to not only research, but to teach,” Huggins said. “Unfortunately, that has changed over the years. By endowing a significant portion of a faculty salary, we hope to free up time for more teaching.”
Huggins and Baker met at MU when he was a medical student and she was a student nurse. Their lives went different directions for many years. Then, Jean wrote to George when her mother was sick, asking him for a reference for a physician. As it turned out, George had trained the physician in question. Huggins and Baker continued corresponding, and a marriage bloomed out of the Mizzou connection made in the 1960s.
“George Huggins and Jean Baker have been long-time advocates of higher education at MU and elsewhere,” said MU School of Medicine Interim Dean Robert Churchill. “Their gift to the MU School of Medicine will be a permanent legacy of their dedication to improving medical student education and patient care.”

“All my life I have known that education was important,” Baker said. “It’s important to me to help people who might not be able to go to school on their own. By giving, I set an example for my children to give back.”
Baker established two previous scholarship endowments at MU: The Chester A. and V. Marguerite Baker Memorial Endowment; and The Larry S. and Jean Baker Harper Endowed Scholarship Fund for International Agricultural Studies. Huggins received his MD at MU in 1963, completed his residency at MU in 1967 and served as the university hospital’s chief surgical resident.

The University of Missouri School of Medicine has improved health, education and research in Missouri for more than 160 years. MU physicians treat patients from every county in the state, and MU is a primary provider of training for all physicians in Missouri. The School of Medicine’s more than 600 faculty physicians and scientists educate approximately 1,000 medical students, residents, fellows and other students seeking advanced degrees. Their research is focused on potentially lifesaving discoveries that address the most prevalent health problems.