Jan. 31, 2017

$12.5M gift creates Feil Family Student Center at Weill Cornell

student center lobby
Mitchell|Giurgola Architects, LLP
A rendering of the first-floor lobby of the Feil Family Student Center at Weill Cornell Medicine.

With the goal of advancing Weill Cornell Medicine’s mission to nurture the best future health care leaders, the Feil family has made a $12.5 million gift to establish a state-of-the-art student center, the institution announced Jan. 30. The gift will expand the institution’s dedicated student space by nearly 75 percent, creating new areas on campus for education, collaboration, wellness and student engagement.

The 16,200-square-foot Feil Family Student Center, housed in renovated space on the first and second floors of the main campus buildings on the east side of York Avenue, will offer a place for classrooms, meetings, quiet study and informal gatherings to bring students together in the heart of the institution. The new center will complement the Weill Education Center, established in 1996 by Joan and Sanford I. Weill and other donors, and renovated in 2015. The Feil Family Student Center will provide a spacious and modern hub for student life, innovation and teaching at Weill Cornell Medicine, and will help to further realize Weill Cornell Medical College’s new curriculum. Construction will begin June 2017.

“The Feil family’s generous support over the years has helped cement Weill Cornell Medicine’s reputation as a world-class global institution,” said Jessica M. Bibliowicz, chairman of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers. “We are grateful for their generosity once again, as this outstanding gift will provide student facilities that will strengthen our commitment to the institution’s mission, fuel advances in medicine and enrich the educational experience.”

student commons
Mitchell|Giurgola Architects, LLP
Student commons on the second floor of the Feil Family Student Center.

The Feil family is one of Weill Cornell Medicine’s foremost benefactors, championing patient care, research and education at the institution for more than three decades. The family’s support, totaling more than $90 million to date, has provided significant funding toward the Belfer Research Building’s construction, as well as for student scholarships, physician training, professorship endowments and clinical scholar awards. The family also established the Weill Greenberg Center’s Judith Jaffe Neurology Unit. In 2010, Weill Cornell Medicine named its research building on 61st Street the Gertrude and Louis Feil Family Research Building, in honor of the family’s long-standing support. Their 2013 gift established the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute, a multidisciplinary, translational neuroscience research center.

“We are honored to support Weill Cornell Medicine’s extraordinary efforts to educate our next generation of leading doctors and scientists,” said Weill Cornell Medicine Vice Chair Overseer Jeffrey Feil. “Our long-standing relationships with many of Weill Cornell Medicine’s esteemed physicians have been a source of inspiration for us – they exemplify the very best in science and medicine, and demonstrate how to make a difference in the world.”

student lounge
Mitchell|Giurgola Architects, LLP
The second-floor student lounge.

Feil is chairman of the board of overseers’ Initiative for the Brain Development Subcommittee. Faculty leadership for the subcommittee includes Dr. Costantino Iadecola, director of the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute and the Anne Parrish Titzell Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. Matthew Fink, chairman of the Department of Neurology and the Louis and Gertrude Feil Professor in Clinical Neurology, as well as leaders from the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurological Surgery.

“The Feil family and our family have a shared devotion for enhancing Weill Cornell Medicine’s educational mission,” said Sanford I. Weill, chairman emeritus of the board of overseers. “Together, the Feil Family Student Center and Weill Education Center will provide our students with the very best learning experience that will ensure their future success as health care leaders.”

“Education is Weill Cornell Medicine’s lifeblood – it is the way in which we can assure a lasting effect on health care and our patients,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell’s provost for medical affairs. “We are deeply grateful to the Feil family, whose generous gift exemplifies our vision for how to shape the best doctors and scientists, and ensures that our institution remains at the forefront of education.”

Enhancing the educational mission

Excellence in education has been a touchstone at Weill Cornell Medicine since its inception in 1898, reflecting an enduring commitment to transform aspiring doctors and scientists into outstanding health care leaders. The Feil Family Student Center continues that storied tradition. Functioning in collaboration with the Weill Education Center – the heart of formal academic education at the institution – the Feil Family Student Center will provide students at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences with a comfortable and modern environment to support their ambitions.

The center will feature small group rooms for advanced patient care training, including a new ultrasound curriculum and a computer lab with Weill Cornell Medicine’s electronic health records system, providing medical students during their clinical clerkships with a dedicated space to research and identify best practices for their patients. A student activity room will provide meeting space for more than 60 student groups on campus. And a lounge will encourage students to gather and reinvigorate amid their rigorous education programs. New, state-of-the-art instructional spaces, small-group study rooms and a reading room will enable students to continue their professional training and reinforce scientific concepts that inform best practices in patient care.

The center will support Weill Cornell Medicine’s new medical curriculum, implemented in fall 2014, which provides students with a hands-on, interactive education that integrates basic science with clinical care, and emphasizes the core principles of professionalism. All spaces will feature flexible room configurations and enhanced information technology capabilities to accommodate podcasts, e-learning modules, and other modern learning pedagogies and enrichment opportunities.

“Weill Cornell Medicine’s classrooms, labs and patient exam rooms are bustling with some of the finest medical and graduate students in the country,” said Dr. Barbara Hempstead, senior associate dean for education and the O. Wayne Isom Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Just as they have entrusted us to provide them with the tools to become scientifically inquisitive, compassionate and highly skilled physicians, it is incumbent upon us to ensure their wellness and professional growth during their education. Thanks to the Feil family’s remarkable generosity, we can maximize the effectiveness of our new curriculum and enhance the student experience.”

“This space is going to be incredible, and I know that my fellow students will be thrilled. It will undoubtedly inspire collaborative learning, whether it’s studying together in a small group or simply interacting with others in the common area,” said Weill Cornell Medicine Student Overseer Raul Martinez-McFaline, a fifth-year M.D.-Ph.D. candidate in the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program. “The Feil Family Student Center will encourage that crucial team-like atmosphere that is so important in medicine and our success as doctors and scientists.”

Kathryn Inman is a writer for Weill Cornell Medicine.