Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics is now the Charles E. Cheever Jr. Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics

Charles E. Cheever Jr., pictured in 2012. Courtesy Broadway Bank.
Philanthropist-businessman’s legacy includes educating health professionals to embrace compassionate care

With more than $3 million in gifts from family, friends and supporters, including a lead gift from the Sally and Charlie Cheever Foundation, a new endowment will support in perpetuity the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the health science center announced today.

“In gratitude for the generosity of the Cheever family and for Charlie’s devoted service as chair of the center’s advisory council, the center will now be known as the Charles E. Cheever Jr. Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics,” said UT Health Science Center President William L. Henrich, MD, MACP.

Charles E. Cheever Jr., who died in October 2021 at 93, is a legendary San Antonio philanthropist, businessman and community leader. He headed Broadway Bank, established in 1941 by his parents, Elizabeth and Charles E. Cheever Sr., from 1961 until 2005 when he was named chairman emeritus. He was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame and led numerous nonprofit capital campaigns throughout San Antonio. He is also remembered as a dedicated family man who embraced the spirit of giving back to the community, a practice his parents instilled in him and that he passed on to his children.

San Antonio leader opened doors of opportunity for others

“Charlie Cheever Jr. was exceptionally generous with his time and friendship to our faculty and students,” said Ruth Berggren, MD, MACP, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics. “He was a true and genuine leader in our community who knew the value of opening doors for those who followed, and he modeled a life of compassion, a strong moral and work ethic, and a commitment to doing the right thing for our city and for one another.”

In 2002, the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics was founded to provide health care trainees with a strong foundation in ethics and moral reasoning, as well as to foster the culture of compassion and caring at UT Health Science Center San Antonio. The center’s mission is to educate medical students and health professionals in ethics and professionalism while nurturing empathy and humanitarian values. This mission is achieved by:

  • Preparing students to identify, analyze and resolve moral conflicts in patient care and medical research.
  • Deepening attentiveness to patients that will resonate throughout students’ careers.
  • Exposing students to compassionate clinical role modeling and meaningful reflection in community settings that challenge them to grow beyond their current understanding.

The center’s faculty members lead four intersecting programs in ethics education, medical humanities, community service learning and global health.

Center is a national model

“These programs teach and shape compassionate, community-minded future health professionals and distinguish the Cheever Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics as a national model in ethics education, community engagement and service to humanity,” said Robert Hromas, MD, FACP, professor and dean of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Through the Cheever Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics, 1,400 health science center students spend 20,000 hours serving more than 10,000 community members alongside 65 community partners in an average year. Students from all schools of the health science center participate in the programs.

“Looking ahead to the next decade and beyond, we recommit ourselves to the vision of preparing tomorrow’s healers to act with compassion and justice,” Berggren said. “With the opening of The University of Texas School of Public Health San Antonio, we anticipate exciting opportunities to bring ethics in action to even more students, providers and underserved communities.”

Permanent educational impact

The Cheever Endowment in Medical Humanities and Ethics will permanently sustain integration of medical ethics and humanities education within the missions of patient care, education and community service at UT Health Science Center San Antonio. Support will also be directed toward critical program needs for student training in ethics-in-action programs, including community service learning locally and abroad.

“Charlie believed that the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics brought hope to everyone that the future of health is in good hands,” Henrich said. “We sincerely appreciate Charlie’s friends, the center’s supporters and the entire Cheever family for furthering Charlie’s vision.”

“Charlie was devoted to the mission of the Cheever Center and to UT Health San Antonio,” said friend, advisory council member and Cheever Foundation Director Bill Scanlan. “We are grateful to have so many of his friends join this effort to honor his legacy in this special way.”

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