Feb. 9, 2007 -- I want to express gratitude to our guests from Philip Morris USA for being here today.
I also want to thank Gordon Rainey, former Rector and current chair of the Campaign for the University. It is owing to his tremendous efforts over several years that we are here together today.
The Rotunda is the place where we gather to mark special occasions and to make important announcements.
When Mr. Jefferson designed the University, he put the Rotunda here in a prominent place at the head of the Lawn.
In his design, the Rotunda was the heart of the University, the Library, a place where students and professors shared knowledge and new ideas.
Interestingly, basic scientific research also was conducted in the lower level of the building by students.
This is the right place to announce today the deepening of an important partnership between two Virginia institutions.
Philip Morris USA has committed $25 million to the University so that we can work together
-- to reduce the harm caused by smoking,
-- to help prevent young people from taking up the smoking habit,
-- and to improve the effectiveness of smoking cessation programs.
The gift supports research that may ultimately prevent or cure addictions and serious diseases, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema.
Faculty researchers here are engaged in ground-breaking molecular research aimed at identifying the genes that make certain people susceptible to chemical and nicotine dependencies, and at developing medical-imaging techniques to enhance medical understanding of smoking-related illnesses.
This generous gift will provide the means to continue that research and to expand on it.
A portion of their commitment also will be used to build programs in leadership and marketing in the McIntire School of Commerce.
Faculty in the Commerce School will partner with faculty in the School of Medicine on research that will focus on marketing, advertising, and communication programs for anti-smoking campaigns, and also focus on the prevention of smoking, particularly in young people.
Dr. Garson from the School of Medicine and Dean Zeithaml from the McIntire School of Commerce will be the stewards of this gift.
In behalf of Dr. Garson, Dean Zeithaml, and the entire University community, I am grateful for this generous support from Philip Morris USA.
We look forward to the important work that lies ahead. Smoking is a serious public health issue and the University wants to be a part of the solution.