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Fairbanks Foundation gives $20M to IUPUI public health school

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The Indianapolis-based Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation is contributing $20 million to support IUPUI’s effort to open a school of public health.

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie announced the grant Tuesday morning. The university hopes to open the public health school on its Indianapolis campus next year.

IU plans to build the public health school using faculty from its medical school and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

At least 80 percent of the Fairbanks gift will be held in an endowment that will continue to generate revenue to support faculty and student programs, IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz said in a statement.

“The impact of this gift will forever be seen in the education of students who will become tomorrow's public health professionals and researchers," Bantz said. "Part of the challenge is not only treating disease, but preventing it in the first place. Public health is about prevention."

Among the Indiana health challenges cited in the news release: a high prevalence of tobacco use and a high obesity rate.

Founded in 1986, Fairbanks is a private foundation that has three primary focus areas: health, the vitality of Indianapolis, and sustainable employment. Its assets were worth about $284 million at the end of its most recent fiscal year.

In 2006, it made a number of large grants, including $11 million to endow the Virginia B Fairbanks Art and Nature Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art—which opens this weekend—and $10 million that was used to create the Fairbanks Institute medical research center, a collaboration with the IU School of Medicine and BioCrossroads.

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