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Programs News Kevin Storr April 15, 2024

Marnix E. Heersink, M.D., and Mary Heersink walking outside hand-in-hand.

Marnix E. Heersink, M.D., and Mary Heersink, longtime supporters of UAB, have made a gift of $1,040,000 gift to the UAB School of Health Professions. The donation, which established the Heersink Family Foundation Endowed Scholarship in Health Professions, is the largest single scholarship gift in school history.

The preference is for the scholarship to be awarded to students who are from – or applicants who accept internships in – the Wiregrass Region located in Southeast Alabama. The Wiregrass area, with nearly 150,000 residents, includes the cities of Abbeville, Dothan, Enterprise, Eufaula, Luverne, Opp and Ozark.

The generous gift from the Marnix E. Heersink Family was accepted by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees on April 12, 2024, and can be utilized for immediate awards to students.

This $1 million gift is in addition to the $100 million the Marnix E. Heersink Family has gifted to UAB since 2021. Those gifts included naming our medical school the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, plus establishing the Marnix E. Heersink Institute of Biomedical Innovation and the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health.

“The Heersink Family is dedicated to better health care and health for all and that is evident in their continued generosity and support to the future providers here at UAB and to the future clients our students will serve in the Wiregrass region,” said Andrew J. Butler, Ph.D., dean, UAB School of Health Professions. “Their legacy of putting others first will carry on within everyone that earns their scholarship, and we are truly grateful the Heersink Family chose our school and our students to help extend their mission of changing lives.”

According to the Alabama Department of Health, all but nine counties in the state are Medically Underserved Areas. Every county in the Wiregrass area – Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike – was designated MUAs.

Heersink moved to the Wiregrass area – specifically Dothan, Alabama – with his wife in 1978 with only "a used car, some clothes, and a lot of love and hope.” Today, he is a renowned eye surgeon, innovator, and entrepreneur who wants the family gift to deliver health professions practitioners who embody his family’s hope to the region his family loves.

“Mary and I have long understood the need and the importance of the School of Health Professions,” said Dr. Heersink. “We know that the education and training of health professionals who dedicate their lives to caring for others is critical for the well-being of our citizens, and we are very privileged and happy to support the UAB School of Health Professions with this donation.”

The Heersink Family Foundation Endowed Scholarship in Health Professions will be an annual award given to students enrolled or admitted to any degree-granting program in the school. Students will be required to have earned at least an overall 3.0 grade point average and demonstrate solid academic promise and achievement. The gift will be applied toward the recipient’s tuition, fees and room and board, books, supplies, or other school-related expenses.

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