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Welcome to the the Office of the President

On Vision Storm Eye Institute Donor Recognition and Portrait Unveiling of David Apple

May 30, 2000

Let me join Mr. Feldberg and Dr. Wilson in welcoming you to this wonderful moment in the life of the Storm Eye Institute. The overflow audience here today provides ample testimony to the deep affection of so many friends for the Institute. Thank you for coming, but more importantly, thank you for your dedication to this wonderful cause.

In a real sense, we are here today to celebrate vision. By that, of course, we mean vision in both the literal and figurative senses. Quite literally, it is the work of the Storm Eye Institute to protect, preserve, improve, and restore eyesight. To be able to see and to see clearly is such a basic part of human existence, that we are apt to take it for granted. Those blessed with normal eyesight have little reason to pause and reflect on the miracle of vision. When our ability to see is impaired, however, we are constantly reminded of the precious nature of eyesight.

That sentiment was very movingly captured by Helen Keller when she wrote the following: "I who am blind can give one hint to those who see - one admonition to those who would make full use of the gift of sight: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of each sense."

To me, that statement provides a poignant reminder of the importance of the work of this Institute. The Storm Eye Institute is the only comprehensive ophthalmologic center in South Carolina. By comprehensive, I mean that in one setting basic research is combined with state-of-the-art education and the most advanced clinical care. This research bench to patient bedside approach is a unique resource for the citizens of this State.

Equally important, the Storm Eye Institute provides leadership on the national, and indeed, international levels. The clinical expertise of this faculty attracts patients from afar. The Ophthalmology faculty, as much or more than any other on campus, is invited around the world to lecture on the latest techniques. At the same time, the laboratories of the Institute are making fundamental contributions to vision research.

Without question, the Storm Eye Institute is a center of excellence and a source of pride to all involved with the Medical University. We are here today to celebrate that success and to acknowledge the many friends who have made that success possible. Indeed, the support of many generous donors was crucial to the expansion of this facility. Moreover, endowments in support of programs and named chairs have allowed the Department to recruit and retain an exceptional faculty.

In today's challenging financial climate, private funding is essential to the success of academic health centers. Even at a public institution, such as the Medical University, we rely heavily upon the support of individual donors, foundations and corporate benefactors. That is because state appropriations account for only about 15 percent of our revenue. The remainder of our income is derived from patient care, funded research and philanthropy.

As reimbursement rates for medical care decline, the opportunities for growth in funding fall principally upon research and philanthropy. Although both of these sources of support are expanding rapidly at the Medical University, they can barely compensate for the loss of federal funding for patient care activities. It is truly a time of great challenge to keep the treasures of health care, such as the Storm Eye Institute, afloat.

That is why it is so gratifying that the friends of this Institute have been remarkably generous in their giving. In your program, you will find listed the names of the many donors to the Storm Eye Institute who have contributed at the leadership level. I will not embarrass each of these individuals by citing their names, but it is a pleasure to publicly express my heartfelt appreciation to them all. Through their support, the Institute is home to three endowed chairs, with another underway. There are also six named centers within the Institute that support education, research or clinical service. In addition, there are six named laboratories and over 20 named rooms within the Institute.

The donor wall symbolically links each of these friends of the Storm Eye Institute to this facility. It serves as a permanent reminder of the spirit of kindness and generosity in which these gifts were given. We salute each of these donors and thank them for helping to make this dream come true. Through your continuing support, we will reach toward even higher goals and aspirations.

I turn now to the other aspect of vision, the figurative sense. Today, we honor Dr. David Apple, former chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, with the unveiling of a portrait. It is fitting that we recognize Dr. Apple at the same time that we thank our donors, since David was personally responsible for encouraging many of our benefactors to support the Storm Eye Institute.

I could go on for some time summarizing David Apple's professional accomplishments. His curriculum vitae reads like War and Peace and it is of similar heft. Suffice it to say that Dr. Apple is recognized around the world for his contributions to ocular pathology, and in particular, for his work on intraocular lens explants. He has been invited to deliver talks at many distinguished lectureships in the United States and abroad. His textbook, Ocular Pathology, Clinical Applications and Self-Assessment was first published over a quarter century ago and is now in its fifth edition. He is the author of almost 350 journal articles, which is an average of more than 10 articles per year during his professional career. This is quite simply an astounding level of scholarly productivity.

As prodigious as are these research achievements, ultimately it is not that work for which we honor Dr. Apple today. Rather, David's most visible contribution at the Medical University is the expanded facility in which we are assembled today. I suspect that from the moment that he arrived on campus in 1988 as the newly appointed chair of the Ophthalmology Department, he had a dream of taking the Department to new heights. That task was completed a decade later with the addition of three floors to this building. Not only did he raise the roof on the building; he raised the expectation levels for the Department as well. Ophthalmology is stronger, deeper, and richer for the faculty that he recruited here and for the extraordinary success he enjoyed in raising support for their efforts.

If a facility and a program ever rose on this campus by the sheer force of one individual's passion, surely there is no better example than David Apple's aspirations for the Storm Eye Institute. We are witnesses today to his vision, carried forward by a strong faculty and staff, and enhanced by his successor, Dr. Wilson.

In considering the role of a visionary and his ability to mobilize others to his vision, I am reminded of a story about the great English architect of the 17th century, Sir Christopher Wren. This story has been attributed to Louise Bush-Brown, an educator in Pennsylvania, but it may well be apocryphal. One of Wren's great works, if not his greatest, was St. Paul's cathedral in London. One day during the construction of this masterpiece, he walked anonymously among the workers. He stopped and asked one of the workers: "What are you doing?" To this, the workman responded: "I am cutting a piece of stone." The great architect then came upon another worker to whom he posed the same question. This workman replied: "I am earning five shillings two pence per day." When he came across a third workman and posed the identical question, he received the following reply: "I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build a beautiful cathedral." This third worker shared Wren's vision. In contrast to the first two workers, this third individual could see beyond his immediate task and its direct compensation.

In a sense, David Apple is to the Storm Eye Institute as Sir Christopher Wren was to St. Paul's cathedral. Each of these men had a dream of building something of lasting significance. They conceived and designed their respective projects, but they could not complete them without the help of others. In particular, they needed the engagement of others that shared the same vision. Today, we celebrate David Apple and at the same time, we thank those of you who shared his vision. I must pause here and reflect on the person most responsible for advancing David's vision, his wife Ann. Through challenging times, Ann has been a constant source of support to David and today we recognize her important contributions as well.

We come now to the portrait that will forever provide a visual link between David Apple and this building. I believe that the artist who painted this portrait, Martha Thomas, is in the audience. Martha, please stand so that we may express to you our collective appreciation.

Although painted by Martha's hand, five other individuals played key roles in making it a reality through their generous financial support. These five dear friends of David Apple are Holly Magill, her daughter and son-in-law, Holly and Arturo Melosi, and Bette and Julian Bush. As fate would have it, two of these donors, Holly Magill and Julian Bush, were called to their eternal rest within the last two months. I know that both Holly and Julian are with us in spirit today. Please join me in a moment of silence in memory of these two great friends of the Storm Eye Institute.

At this time, I would like to call Arturo and Holly Melosi and Bette Bush forward to unveil the portrait.

It is now my honor to present to you Dr. David Apple.