The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
For the past fifteen years, Lenny Katz has been living in a comatose condition. The youngest son of Jerold B. Katz and Judith E. Katz, Lenny suffered severe head trauma in a car accident on his way home from college in 1989. He has required daily nursing care ever since.
Yet, out of this tragic situation, the Katz family found inspiration. Moved by the skill and compassion of Lenny's nurses, the family made a $250,000 commitment to The University of Texas School of Nursing at the Health Science Center Houston to establish the Jerold B. Katz Distinguished Professorship for Nursing Research. "Nurses have been critical to the excellent shape that Lenny is in today," said Evan Katz, Lenny's older brother. "They love him just as much as we do, and they don't even know how wonderful and funny he was. They are a part of our family. We wanted to do something to honor them."
The endowed position, which is invested in the Long Term Fund, is the first gift the Jerold B. Katz Foundation has made to the School of Nursing and the first philanthropic gift Evan's and Lenny's father, Jerold, has ever put his name on. "This is something we believe in very strongly-it's something we want to last a long time," said Evan, chairman of the Jerold B. Katz Foundation and vice chair of First Community Bancshares Inc.
|Sandra K. Hanneman, Ph.D.|
In May 2004, following the grand opening ceremonies for the UT School of Nursing's new building, Sandra K. Hanneman, Ph.D., associate dean for research, was named to the Katz Distinguished Professorship. Dr. Hanneman will direct the school's new Center for Nursing Research, a state-of-the-art laboratory facility for nursing student and faculty research. She is well known for her research on weaning adult patients from mechanical ventilation using a chronobiology perspective, which involves biologic time structures of physiologic responses.
Patricia Starck, D.S.N., dean of the UT School of Nursing, said, "We are especially grateful and pleased that the Katz family has recognized and honored the unique contributions that nurses make to caring for patients." According to Starck the research center will help fill a critical need at the school to train biologically-oriented nurse scientists and provide them with space for their own basic and clinical research. With biologic education becoming increasingly important in nursing, the center also will help the school competitively recruit and retain top nursing students and faculty.
"We recognize the importance of laboratory research to advance the practice of nursing, and we want to help build such a program at the UT School of Nursing. There is a great need that we can help meet," said Evan, who is also a member of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Development Board.
The Jerold B. Katz Foundation is directed entirely by family members, including Evan’s father and his sister, Lissy Fox. Generally, the foundation has focused its support on research in head injury and brain development, areas that might help the family better communicate with Lenny. The gift to the School of Nursing marked a new area of philanthropy for them—a way for them to support and honor those who “communicate” with patients like Lenny through their nursing care. “Doctors get all the recognition, but nurses are the ones who give patients quality of life,” said Evan.