I just received an email with the sad news that Dr. John P. McGovern has passed away. A longtime UTMB supporter, in 2001 Dr. McGovern was instrumental in promoting and supporting Oslerian teachings at our university; in later years additional funds from his foundation supported more faculty scholars, Osler Student Scholarships, and created the Excellence in Clinical Teaching Awards to recognize UTMB faculty who epitomize excellence in education.
Who was Osler? Osler returned clinical teaching to prominence after 19th-century medical education had become dominated by lectures and laboratory work. An Oslerian approach to education appreciates the importance of medical science, but also teaches the importance of caring and compassion.
Another mark Dr. McGovern leaves at UTMB is the John P. McGovern Hall of Medical History, at the entrance of Old Red. Altogether, he has generously contributed many millions of dollars to UTMB programs over the past 31 years. But his philanthropy extends far beyond our campus…he’s supported the Houston Zoo; programs in the Texas Medical Center, including the Health Museum that bears his name; his alma mater, Duke University; and many others.
Dr. McGovern was founder of the McGovern Allergy Clinic, which he established in 1956 in Houston. It rapidly grew to become the nation’s largest in that specialty.
I didn’t know Dr. McGovern personally, but I knew his name well and know that my colleagues who did know him spoke highly of him. He was a man who had been very successful in life, and who had invested as much energy giving his fortune away for the benefit of others as he did amassing it. His legacy will benefit us at UTMB and those we serve for decades to come. His is a name that will live on for a long time, here and elsewhere.