Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., will name its pharmacy school for Tennessee hospital executive R. Clayton McWhorter, whose $10 million gift will create an endowment at the Baptist institution.
McWhorter, a 1955 Samford graduate and a pharmacist by training, is about to step down as chairman of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. of Nashville, Tenn., the largest investor-owned hospital company in the nation.
His gift was the biggest ever received by Samford from a living individual.
"I want to help Samford move to the cutting edge of pharmacy education for the 21st century," McWhorter said. "This gift will assist the Samford pharmacy school to become a pacesetter for the profession."
A native of Hamilton County, Tenn., McWhorter, 62, said he was blessed with "strong mentors and with wonderful opportunities" that led to success.
"I came from a poor family," he said, "but my mother always stressed that everyone should give something back, no matter their situation."
McWhorter's gift will support pharmacy facilities and endowment for future programs. The name of the school will be changed to the McWhorter School of Pharmacy, effective May 10.
In addition to recognizing McWhorter, the new name honors his brother Fred, a Chattanooga pharmacist and 1951 Samford graduate, and other family members.
Included in the donation is core funding for a new structure and renovation of the present pharmacy building, Ingalls Hall. The new structure will adjoin Ingalls and provide for expanded pharmacy programs.
McWhorter joined Hospital Corporation of America in 1970. He rose through the ranks, becoming president and chief operating officer in 1985.
McWhorter took part in the formation of Health-trust in 1987 and served as chairman, president and chief executive officer until Healthtrust merged with Columbia in April 1995. He has been chairman of Columbia since then.
McWhorter has announced he will step down as chairman May 9 but will remain a director.