The Simmons Hanly Conroy, announced today that it has pledged $10.2 million to fund a new cancer institute at Southern Illinois University (SIU).
The institute, which will be named The Simmons Hanly Conroy Cancer Institute at SIU, will provide extraordinary new resources to enhance treatments and implement the continuing search for a permanent cure. It is the largest single gift in the history of SIU and will establish the university as home to one of the leading cancer facilities in the United States.
“We believe this is the only instance where a law firm has made such a sizable commitment in this area of vital medical research,” said John Simmons, founder of Simmons Hanly Conroy. “The Simmons Hanly Conroy has been at the forefront in fighting for justice for cancer victims. We will continue to show that commitment with our hearts and with our pocketbook.
“I am proud that the Institute is the only major medical center to bear the name of a law firm, but I also hope that others will take a cue from what we have done,” added Simmons, a member of the SIU Board of Trustees.
The Simmons Hanly Conroy Cancer Institute at SIU’s School of Medicine in Springfield employs a staff of 50 people, and that is expected to grow to 100 in the course of the next two years. The center was established 2 years ago to address health concerns in downstate Illinois.
“This pledge to the Cancer Institute at SIU School of Medicine provides what patients and their families want most – and what doctors want to give – and that is hope,” said Dr. J. Kevin Dorsey, dean and provost of the medical school. “This generous philanthropic gift will support several research projects that will ultimately get us closer to what patients, doctors, and families all hope for – a cure for cancer.
The Institute combines existing SIU resources with the new research and treatment facilities enabled by Simmons Hanly Conroy commitment.
It is particularly appropriate that Simmons Hanly Conroy is driving this ambitious initiative. One of the nation’s leading law firms, Simmons Hanly Conroy has spearheaded global legal efforts to provide support for people tragically victimized by asbestos and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the abdominal cavity, chest cavity, and the region surrounding the heart. Due to its uncommon nature, mesothelioma is typically difficult to diagnose and treat. It has been connected with exposure to asbestos, a material formerly present in many work environments. Only about 3,000 individuals are diagnosed annually.
As part of its donation, Simmons Hanly Conroy will endow a Chair at the Institute specifically focused on all respiratory-related forms of cancer. The total pledge amount reflects a donation by the firm as well as a significant personal contribution by John and Jayne Simmons.
“The Simmons Hanly Conroy must now take one further step by making a substantial return to the community,” said Simmons. “We must do everything in our power to provide a medical solution, not just legal recourse. The size of this pledge is, to be sure, financially significant for us and that’s the way it should be.”
SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said, “The Institute is the latest example of the great leadership and vision that John Simmons has provided since his appointment to our Board of Trustees.
“The Simmons Hanly Conroy pledge of $10.2 million to SIU through the SIU Foundation comes on the eve of our first comprehensive capital campaign,” said Rickey N. McCurry, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement and Chief Executive Officer of the SIU Foundation. “This is a watershed moment for our university. The mood here can only be described as one of excitement as we announce this gift today.”