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Astonishing gift by the Jacobs family will transform UB’s medical school

The words of Jeremy M. Jacobs Sr. in the wake of his family’s staggering $30 million gift to the University at Buffalo medical school show his true humility, graciousness and class, which have benefited this community time and again.

In an almost matter-of-fact manner, Jacobs said: “This is my hometown. We’ve got several thousand employees in the greater Western New York area. This is an investment in their quality of life. And it’s a statement of them, collectively. The money that it took to do this was money that was earned here, in one form or another, by the associates here. It couldn’t have been done without their hard work.”

The size of the gift by Jacobs, his wife, Margaret, and family members – the second-largest single donation in UB’s history – will have a huge impact on the school, the community and the nation for generations. UB officials called it “transformational” for the medical school, which will soon be moving into a $375 million home now under construction on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

This gift powers the medical school’s current $200 million fundraising campaign, bringing the total raised to $160 million.

The gift by the Jacobs family brings to more than $50 million their generosity to UB. And it’s not just money. While holding the title of chairman of Delaware North and the NHL’s Boston Bruins, Jacobs has given his time to the university. He is a longtime member of the UB Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm, and has served as chairman of the UB Council, the university’s governing body, since 1998.

It may not have been common knowledge, but Jacobs led the searches resulting in the selections of current UB President Satish K. Tripathi and his predecessor, John B. Simpson. UB officials point to Jacobs’ “invaluable service to the university” over three decades “spanning the tenures of five UB presidents.”

The Jacobs’ family association with the university runs deep and is heartfelt. His late brother, Dr. Lawrence, had a tremendous impact on the neurology department, where he served for many years as chairman. He was a physician and researcher into treatments for multiple sclerosis, whose legacy has a positive, life-enhancing impact on patients to this day.

Jacobs and his family gave $10 million to the Jacobs Institute, an interdisciplinary medical and research center, to honor Lawrence, who died in 2001.

The $30 million gift is unrestricted, meaning UB can use it where it will do the most good. Officials say it will propel construction, research and academic programs and student scholarships.

The gift sends the right message about the school’s growth and substance to prospective faculty and researchers at other medical schools and to undergraduates applying for medical school. Moreover, it sends a message to other potential donors that UB is worthy of investment.

In one show of gratitude, UB voted to name the medical school the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science. The university has never before named one of its schools, its primary academic divisions, for someone, but considering the absolute dedication of the family toward this community, it is a fitting tribute.