Wis. couple donate another $67M to Mayo Clinic

Longtime Wisconsin philanthropists Robert and Patricia Kern have donated another $67 million to the Mayo Clinic, bringing their total contributions to $100 million.

Hundreds of Mayo employees crowded the lobby of the clinic's Gonda building Wednesday to honor the Kerns. Most of the the new gift will be used to support the clinic's Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, an initiative launched in 2011 focused on improving delivery of health care.

The center's mission is critical to helping the nation's health care dilemma, Robert Kern said. "The medical institutions that are going to survive are those that are going to focus on the outcome and care of the patient, as well as the cost containment that has to go along with it."

In 2011, the Kerns donated $20 million to help launch the center, which will be named in their honor. They've also donated $13 million to Mayo Clinic for neuroscience and education activities.

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"This is a remarkable couple," Mayo chief executive Dr. John Noseworthy said. "They are business people. They are philanthropists. They embody generosity, graciousness and kindness."

Robert Kern first came to Mayo Clinic in 1930 at age 5, the clinic said. He made his fortune from Generac Power Systems, a Waukesha, Wis., company started in a garage that eventually became the world's largest manufacturer of backup generators.

The $67 million marks the second largest outright gift in Mayo's history.

In 2011, long-time Mayo patient and Iowa philanthropist Richard Jacobson contributed $100 million to help establish the clinic's Proton Beam Cancer Therapy Program.