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Posted on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : noon

Discount Tire co-founder's foundation gives $15 million to University of Michigan women's hospital

By Tina Reed

In the largest gift ever made to women's health at the University of Michigan, the health system announced today it is receiving a $15 million donation from the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation to support the construction of the new women's hospital.

On Thursday, U-M's Board of Regents will consider naming the hospital the University of Michigan Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. It is part of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital complex being built on U-M's main health system campus.

Ted Von Voigtlander is the late co-founder of the Discount Tire Co. and Jane Von Voigtlander is his late wife.

The $754 million complex is pegged to open in 2012. The women's hospital will have a birthing center, a perinatal assessment center, a high-risk labor and delivery area, a neonatal intensive care unit and fetal surgery program. It will have 50 single labor, delivery and recovery rooms and is expected to reach 4,500 deliveries a year in the new hospital.

U-M's current hospital has 31 private rooms and has about 3,800 deliveries a year. It was originally build to accommodate about 2,500 deliveries. It was not built to hold the sizable technology often needed in surgery and delivery rooms, and U-M's system of keeping a woman in a single room from labor to hospital discharge, said Timothy Johnson, the Bates professor and chairman of OB/GYN at U-M.

The new hospital is planned to have rooms that are private, larger and provide accommodations like in-room refrigerators, a bed for a visitor to stay with new mothers and views of the Arboretum, he said.

Having the women's hospital named for the first time in the hospital's history distinguishes it as having a particular dedication to serving new mothers and their children, he said. Having the hospital's name tied with such well-respected philanthropists is additionally special, Johnson said.

"Obviously this is very exciting," Johnson said. "We have been building our women's program … This is a pretty nice recognition that the U-M has an outstanding program, that the future is even brighter and expectations are higher."

Before Jane Von Voigtlander died of pancreatic cancer in 2007, she formed the private family foundation focused on giving money to children, health, medical research, the environment and the arts, according to the foundation's Web site. She and her daughter Gwen Haggerty made previous donations to U-M, including a gift to pulmonary medicine and a $2 million donation to the children's and women's hospital complex.

Haggerty, who is president of the foundation, said she made the decision to make the gift to the U-M women's health hospital because she believed it would make the kind of impact her parents, particularly her mother, valued.

"I know it is what my mom wanted to continue," Haggerty said. "This is just expanding on her work. She was a big believer in the value of women's health. I think she knew (the women's hospital) would have a big impact on the health of women, not just locally, but statewide and nationally."

It is one of several high-profile gifts given toward the $75 million goal for the new complex. So far, about $68 million has been raised for the new building project. Others include:

• During the recent Thanksgiving football game between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, it was announced former U-M football player Charles Woodson was donating $2 million to create a research fund and support construction at the new hospital.

• In 2006, Domino's Pizza CEO Dave Brandon, and his wife Jan Brandon, gave $4 million to the university, half of which went toward supporting a neonatal intensive care unit in the complex.

• In 2007, Detroit Tigers player Brandon Inge donated $100,000 to build an activity area in the pediatric infusion unit.

The fundraising effort is part of a larger campaign called the Michigan Difference, which is a university-wide push to raise $2.5 billion - led by the Brandons and by former U-M head football coach Lloyd Carr and his wife Laurie, the health system said in a release.

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.



Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 7:48 a.m.

Let me make my position a little clearer.I was talking about the U of M being the rich getting richer. I have no problem with private enterprise making money. And I agree that the poor or more likely the middle class are more likely to make donations. When these groups give money they are usually making a sacrifice. When the rich do it it they are not suffering because of it.


Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 4:20 a.m.

JCJ-also, more poor people statistically give more of their money to other causes like food shelters, United Way, and other endeavors where their hard earned money helps someone less fortunate than themselves than rich people do. It always seems large when the amounts you read are in the millions, but collectively the poor gives more than rich people do.


Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 12:45 a.m.

jcj, What's so wrong with being rich if you do good things with the money? I get do sick of these people who run down the rich, the large companies institutions. I've never seen a poor person create a job yet!


Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : 9:47 p.m.

The rich get richer! While the local schools are suffering. They have every right to generously donate their money where they want. I suspect the women's hospital has played some significant role in their lives. While I applaud their generosity the U of M gets millions in donations.


Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : 1:26 p.m.

Discount Tire started in Ann Arbor by Bruce T. Halle. First store on Stadium Blvd.

Kara Gavin

Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : 1:24 p.m.

Discount Tire indeed started in Ann Arbor - you can read more about the Von Voigtlanders at and learn more about this gift and the U-M women's hospital at - Kara Gavin U-M Health System Public Relations