Cleveland Clinic receives $5 million gift for chief executive chair

CEO’s college pal funds executive chair
Barb Galbincea
Plain Dealer Reporter

A $5 million donation to the Cleveland Clinic is aimed at supporting continued innovation in health care and saying thank you to a friend.

The money is from Buffalo businessman Robert Rich Jr. and his wife, Mindy, also a company executive. Robert Rich was a college fraternity brother of Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, the Clinic’s president and chief executive.

Rich, chairman of Rich Products Corp., a global food-processing company with about $2.5 billion in annual sales, called Cosgrove “a great innovator. He’s demonstrated such a feel for new medicine, for health care of the future.”

Rich, a Clinic trustee for eight years and chairman of its $1.25 billion fund-raising campaign, said he wanted to make a gift that would give Cosgrove, and his successors, a pool of discretionary money. Rich hopes the Cosgrove Innovation Challenge eventually will raise at least $20 million.

The Rich family’s gift, which establishes the Clinic’s first chief executive chair, will allow the hospital to respond quickly to opportunities not covered in the general budget, said Cosgrove.

That could include everything from wellness initiatives like the smoking-cessation program to entrepreneurial research and seed money for community initiatives, he said.

“I think of it as demonstration of a very grateful family,” said Cosgrove. “It’s a very nice way of giving back. [Rich] is a first-class guy.”

Rich said his family, friends and business associates all have gotten excellent care at the Clinic.

“It’s just amazing how they touch so many lives,” he said. “It’s a way for us to say thank you.”

Rich said many others also are supporting the Clinic through the “Today’s Innovations, Tomorrow’s Healthcare” campaign, which was scheduled to wrap up in 2010. But he said donations are about to surpass $1 billion, putting the campaign almost two years ahead of projections.

Along with his friendship with Cosgrove, Rich noted that he is connected to Cleveland through the Buffalo Bisons, a subsidiary of his company and a minor-league affiliate of the Indians.
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