Despite a bit of rain, Friday, March 20, was a love fest of Nobel Prize winners, state leaders and philanthropists praising Kern Wildenthal. The draw was the dedication of the Kern Wildenthal Biomedical Research Building at UT Southwestern Medical Center. As the rain fell on the tent outside the 12-story, 331,400-square-foot structure, dignitaries, family and friends swelled to SRO.
The platitudes for the former UT Southwestern president were simply remarkable about the chap who had achieved greatness as a doctor at a youthful age and rose to leadership of UT Southwestern. During his 22 years he orchestrated a plan for the development of a campus with research and clinical facilities. It was a big picture about which others had been skeptical. Now, some of those naysayers were happily eating their words about the vision of the UT Southwestern graduate.
One of those research programs is the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern that is a “joint venture established by Children’s Medical Center Dallas and UT Southwestern” focusing on “areas of unmet needs of children and encompassing stem cell biology, cancer and metabolism.”
In the UT Southwestern history, there have only been three presidents — the late Dr. Charles Sprague, Kern and Dr. Daniel Podolsky. Time and time again speakers — Dr. Joseph Goldstein, Dr. Michael Brown, Dr. Alfred Gilman, former Southwestern Medical Foundation President Bill Solomon, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and former University of Texas System Board of Regents Chairman James Huffines — hinted that the southern campus should be named after Sprague and the northern after Kern.
It was during his tenure as president (1986-2008) that “the institution more than quintupled in size and emerged as one of the world’s leading medical institutions.” Plus UT Southwestern was recognized for its collection of Nobel Prize winners.
But as Kern pointed out after his wife Marnie received a bouquet of yellow roses and they received a mammoth key in a glass case, the past is grand for reflection, “but it is the future that must be the focus.” Tipping his hat to his successor, Kern said that Dan’s plans for the west campus only demonstrated that the future was in good hands.
Following the dedication, the crowd gathered in the lobby of the newly dedicated building for a reception and to check out the Horchow Folk Art Collection. Among those in the crowd were Sara and David Martineau, Ron Steinhart, Lyda and Dan Novakov with Isabella Haggar, Shirley and Bob Miller, Keith Cerny, Don Winspear, Lynne and Roy Sheldon, Jane and Bud Smith, Mary McDermott, and Lyda Hill, who said that her foundation director Nicole Small was keeping Lyda on her toes.