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The Hamilton Eye Institute will be the beneficiary of an anonymous gift to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Dr. Joe Johnson, interim president, announced the gift Thursday at the UT Development Council meeting in Knoxville. He praised the role of the UT Foundation in obtaining the $7,740,000 gift.

James A. Haslam II, chairman of the UT Foundation board, said the gift consisted of interest in an out-of-state commercial property. It is the first large gift the foundation, established in 2001, has been instrumental in obtaining for the university, Haslam said.

“The anonymous donors wanted to give the university the remainder interest of this commercial facility once the note from the income-producing property is paid off,” Haslam said. “Gifts like this are complex, but the UT Foundation was created to accept gifts like this that will ultimately benefit the university.”
In 2002, the donors approached Dr. Barrett Haik, Hamilton Professor of Ophthalmology, about making a gift to fund research on finding a cure for glaucoma.

“Gifts of property can be difficult to negotiate with different states because real estate has a number of complexities attached,” one of the donors said. “The foundation afforded the flexibility and counsel to provide this gift, which will help establish a glaucoma center of excellence at the university’s Hamilton Eye Institute.”

Haik praised the donors for their generosity and for the impact the gift will have on the institute’s mission to prevent blindness.

“Since I began working with the donors in 1981, they have shown a real interest in supporting vision science research and protecting eyesight,” Haik said. “Their gifts have allowed us to build a major research program focused on glaucoma detection, monitoring and therapy. The donors are exemplary individuals of great integrity and scientific curiosity, and they have served as life-long role models for me.”

Construction on a new building for the Hamilton Eye Institute began recently. The institute-s mission is to provide advanced treatments for the management of ocular diseases and complex vision problems, Haik said.