Learning, teaching center named for Farrells

A new state-of-the-art building — designed to draw people together from all disciplines and all corners of the School of Medicine — now has an official name: The Farrell Learning and Teaching Center.

Nestled in the heart of the Medical Campus, The Farrell Learning and Teaching Center will serve as the medical school’s main venue for biomedical education for medical and graduate students.

William A. Peck, M.D., former executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the medical school, announced the Farrell family’s leadership gift this month.

“To enhance Washington University School of Medicine’s position as a world leader in medical education, the medical school must provide a rich learning environment that reflects the continual evolution of medicine,” Peck said. “When this project is completed, we will have a truly exceptional environment for our students to pursue their professional and personal growth. We greatly appreciate the Farrell family’s generous gift, which will help the medical school enhance its efforts as a world leader in medical education.”

After a long and distinguished career as chairman and chief executive officer of the May Department Stores Co., David Farrell retired from the May Co., one of the nation’s leading retail department stores, in 1998.

He has served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees for 22 years and is a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at the School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He also was an ex-officio member of the search committee to identify candidates for the executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the medical school.

Outside of the University, Farrell has severed on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Louis Community Foundation, the Saint Louis Art Museum and other organizations. He has also chaired efforts for the United Way, the Salvation Army and the Arts & Education Council of St. Louis.

The Farrells also have long supported the St. Louis community by providing a scholarship fund that sends local inner-city children to private schools.

In 1997, Farrell received the Right Arm Award from the Regional Chamber & Growth Association and in 1988, the St. Louis Award, an honor given to area leaders who have brought distinction to St. Louis.

The couple, together with the May Co., also established the David C. and Betty Farrell Professorship of Medicine in the John Milliken Department of Medicine in 2000. The professorship is held by Stuart A. Kornfeld, M.D., co-director of the Division of Hematology and professor of medicine and of biochemistry and molecular biology. Last year, the Farrells enhanced the professorship to the distinguished level.

They are Life Patrons of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society, and the conference room in the Center for Advanced Medicine is named in their honor.

Like her husband, Betty also is a dedicated community volunteer. She served on the University Libraries National Council from 1987-1990 and led a fund-raising effort for an archaeology project at the University. She has also served on the Missouri Botanical Garden Board of Commissioners. The couple has three children: Lisa; Mark, a 1986 alumnus of the School of Law; and David, a 1990 alumnus of the law school.

“We are very pleased to support Washington University School of Medicine,” David Farrell said. “It is one of the premier medical schools in the country and the most important academic, social and economic institution in our community. ”

He added that the medical school attracts the best medical and scientific minds in the world and the most promising medical and scientific students.

“The new Learning and Teaching Center is another critical step in providing the right facilities and the right environment for developing the physicians and scientists necessary to provide a better life for people around the globe,” he said. “We applaud Washington University and the School of Medicine on this initiative and are honored to have this teaching and learning center named after our family.”

Located in the heart of the medical center at Euclid and Scott avenues, this striking, six-story structure, which serves medical and graduate students, will be the main venue for medical education at the medical school. It will provide an array of modern environments for teaching, studying and socializing — all designed for comfort, functionality and flexibility. The Farrell Learning and Teaching Center will physically symbolize the institution and define its entrance.

And — for the first time — it will establish a hearth for the medical school community.

“The Farrells’ generous pledge will greatly benefit not only the School of Medicine but also the entire community by allowing the University to remain at the forefront of medical education,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Farrells for their continuous support of Washington University.”

The center, designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum Inc., will feature lecture halls, case-study classrooms, teaching laboratories, rooms for teaching clinical skills and group study and 24-hour computer access.

The center will also offer widespread Internet access, high-resolution video projection, computerized simulators to present clinical situations, computational biology and statistics resources, teleconferencing for connecting to remote sites and 24-hour electronic access to course materials.

In addition to offering teaching and learning facilities, the new center will feature student activity areas, food venues and landscaped pedestrian pathways.

The project is slated to break ground this fall and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2005.