From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Agency commits $8M for health center at Philander Smith

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 07 Apr 2000 13:32:39

April 7, 2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York

NOTE:  For related coverage of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries meeting, see UMNS stories #186, #187 and #188.

STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries
will contribute $8 million for the construction of a science and health
mission center at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark.

Board directors approved the expenditure during their April 3-6 meeting. The
money - to be paid in $2 million increments over a four-year period - comes
from the board's Harry R. Kendall Fund, and the center will bear his name.

Born into a poor Kentucky farm family in 1876, Kendall began working in the
insurance industry at the age of 17. After a long career with Prudential, he
led Washington National Insurance Co., the first insurance agency to serve
the African-American community. When he died in 1958, he left the bulk of
his estate -- $12 million - to a trust fund for charitable, religious and
educational institutions.

About 30 percent of that trust went to the Board of Hospital and Homes of
the Methodist Church, which later became the Health and Welfare Ministries
Department of the Board of Global Ministries. For 40 years, according to the
Rev. Paul Dirdak, chief executive of the board's health and relief unit, the
fund was used to support grants for medical training for African Americans
and for community institutions serving the health needs of African Americans
and "poor whites." 

The strength of the stock market has increased both the fund's earnings and
its total value, he said. In 1998, when the trust funds were distributed
among the various beneficiaries, the Health and Welfare unit received $15.9
million. After spending over $1 million for programs and projects during
1998 and 1999, the fund balances at the end of 1999 were $20.7 million.

Although the board now has access to the total principal, it will still
retain a sufficient amount to continue grants, Dirdak added.

Philander Smith, a United Methodist-related historically black college,
accepts many students with academic promise from the Arkansas Delta, one of
the poorest economic regions of the country. Dirdak said the health science
students at the college have a 90 percent acceptance rate to medical

The Harry R. Kendall Science and Health Mission Center will help
undergraduate students prepare for admission to graduate programs in
medicine and health. Included will be a feeder system to Meharry Medical
College, a United Methodist historically black college in Nashville, Tenn.,
that serves as a graduate school of medicine, along with internships in
board-related projects. Philander Smith will provide an endowment for
faculty positions and the building's maintenance. 

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United Methodist News Service
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