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Dartmouth Health Receives Multimillion Dollar Gift to Support Inclusive Excellence

Dartmouth Health has received a $2.5 million gift from generous donors and former Dartmouth-Hitchcock Trustee Barbara Couch and her husband, Dick Couch D'64, Thayer '65, to establish the Couch Endowed Fund for Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellowships at Dartmouth Cancer Center. The Couches’ gift is magnified by matching funds from long-time donor Dorothy M. Byrne’s recent gift that established the Byrne Family Cancer Research Institute, bringing the total endowment for Inclusive Excellence Faculty Fellowships to $5 million.

This historic gift to Dartmouth Health is the largest philanthropic investment to date in support of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) at Dartmouth Cancer Center.

The fund will support the recruitment and retention of up-and-coming cancer clinician-scientists from under-represented groups in medicine – particularly those exploring health disparities and healthcare inequities.

Barbara and Dick Couch

“This gift was inspired by our belief that the educational and research mission of Dartmouth Health and the Dartmouth Cancer Center is greatly enhanced by a diverse faculty,” said the Couch family. “We believe in the medical center’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment necessary to retain the diverse faculty that this gift is designed to recruit and support.”

"Part of Dartmouth Health’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging journey is recognizing its importance and making a concerted effort to increase diversity among our faculty and staff, to make our community even more welcoming and inclusive,” said Joanne M. Conroy, MD, D'77, CEO and President of Dartmouth Health. “This generous gift from Barbara and Dick is an important step towards that goal, and will benefit our patients and our overall ability as a system to deliver care, excel in research and integrate DEIB values into all we do.”

Couch Faculty Fellows will receive protected academic time and resources for discovery, research, and collaboration supporting both short- and long-term efforts centered on inclusive excellence.

“This gift is central to Dartmouth Cancer Center’s focus on inclusion and belonging,” said Steven D. Leach, MD, Director of Dartmouth Cancer Center, a joint partnership of Dartmouth Health and Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “Establishing a force of diverse cancer scientists will help us further foster an environment for innovative thinking and purposeful engagement. This gift arrives at a critical juncture for our organizations as we increase our level of intersection not only through the important scientific research we undertake but also as a way of fostering shared community, and our ability to attract diverse cultures and people.”

"This generous gift is critical to accelerate our efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in our community," said Duane Compton, PhD, dean of Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “A diverse biomedical workforce is essential to help us reduce healthcare disparities among many populations in our country and globally.”

“A strong DEIB presence at Dartmouth Health can do wonders for employee morale and patient outcomes,” said Teresa Dean Malcolm, MD, FACOG, MBA, vice president of DEIB at Dartmouth Health. “Delivering culturally compassionate care today and in the future can be achieved through investing in people with the cultural background and experience that represent the very communities we want to reach. A gift of this magnitude affirms the fact that diverse and inclusive teams foster community, connection, and innovation and will advance Dartmouth Health’s commitment to inclusive excellence.”

Beyond establishing the Byrne Family Cancer Research Institute, the Byrne family’s substantial generosity over the past 15 years includes annual matching dollars to increase funds raised at Dartmouth Cancer Center’s largest annual community fundraiser, The Prouty, and a $10 million gift in 2014 that created the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care at DHMC.