Medical school gets $1.5 million gift for neuroscience
Mae Gentry - Staff
Tuesday, February 6, 2001
Security was tight Monday at Spelman College, where former President George Bush and his wife installed the Morehouse School of Medicine's first neuroscience chair.
The former president and first lady lent their names to the chair because of long-standing relationships with the Morehouse School of Medicine and its president, Louis Sullivan.
Sullivan was secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during Bush's presidency.
Peter R. MacLeish, who was installed as the George H.W. and Barbara P. Bush Chair of Neuroscience, is currently director of the Neuroscience Institute and chair of MSM's Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Paid for with a $1.5 million endowment from the Texas-based Farish Fund, this is the nation's first neuroscience chair at a black university.
"With this chair, the Bush and Farish families have boldly endorsed scientific research," MacLeish said.
Such research is important, he said, because one in five Americans suffers from neurological disorders, such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and substance abuse.
The chapel was filled with students, faculty and members of the MSM's board of trustees. Barbara Bush was a member of the board from 1983 to 1989.
With her trademark triple-strand pearl choker peeking over a black robe, she began her remarks by awkwardly complimenting Spelman's Glee Club. "You girls . . . ladies . . . were wonderful."
As the audience chuckled, she added, "George says 'The W' gets his malapropisms from me."
Bush apologized for his wife. "Her slip was subliminable," he joked, referring to a mistake their son, President George W. Bush, made during a debate with Al Gore.
In a serious vein, Bush added: "I'm honored to have a small part in the future of this great institution headed by my old friend, Dr. Louis Sullivan."
Some Spelman students objected to Bush speaking at the college's Sisters Chapel.
"We're keeping an eye on the inside," said Secret Service Special Agent Nicole Benton Moore, a 1989 Spelman graduate. "We've got every area covered."
The heavy security, which included Atlanta police and campus guards, was partly in response to a planned student protest that fizzled.
Despite an e-mail campaign by students and alumnae, Spelman President Audrey Forbes Manley said she had received only "a handful" of e-mails objecting to the Bushes' visit.
The students called off their demonstration because they were restricted to an area at the far end of the campus, said Spelman junior Larena Flemmings, 20, of Philadelphia.
"The students are very upset that President Manley would allow him to come to our campus," she said.
"Most of us are Democrats and voted for Al Gore. I belong to the NAACP, and we registered a lot of people and went to the polls. It's like a slap in the face."