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5.16.2014

George and Marla Bergmann Endowed Chair in Orthopaedics Presented to Dr. Frank J. Eismont

Before a packed auditorium full of family, friends, and University of Miami leadership, Marla Bergmann formally carried through on a commitment she made with her late husband, George, several years ago. Mrs. Bergmann had the honor of presenting The George and Marla Bergmann Endowed Chair in Orthopaedics to Frank J. Eismont, M.D., professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Chief of the Orthopaedic Spine Service at the Miller School of Medicine.

The dedication was made May 12 at the Lois Pope LIFE Center. The Bergmanns, longtime philanthropists, established the endowed chair in 2006 in the Department of Orthopaedics after Eismont successfully rehabilitated a serious neck injury that George suffered.

Thankful for his recovery, the Bergmanns became strong supporters of the Miami Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education (CORE), the fundraising arm of the Department of Orthopaedics. They funded the endowed chair to provide Eismont with the resources to advance his work in orthopaedics at the Miller School.

During the introduction, Mrs. Bergmann described Eismont as a “mensch,” which is Yiddish for a person of integrity and honor.

“He is loyal, honest, trustworthy, strong and protective,” said Mrs. Bergmann, who is an alumna of the University of Miami School of Business Administration. “He has absolutely no ego. There has not been one time that someone I know has gone in to see him where they have not called me after and said he was nothing that they expected. They all say he was so nice, so easy to talk to, he explained everything, and he was so real.”

Eismont, who has been part of the Miller School for the past 34 years, cares for patients with spinal disorders, but has a special interest in disorders of the cervical spine and orthopaedic education.

Surrounded by members of his family, Eismont said that the Bergmanns’ friendship had been an integral part of his professional, as well as his personal, life. He said he was humbled to be the recipient of the endowed chair.

“Every now and then, you may be blessed to meet someone who shares your same goals of giving back and has a commitment to philanthropy,” Eismont said. “George Bergmann was certainly such a person. His wife, Marla, also shares this same philosophy. They did not make this commitment to receive recognition, but rather so they could provide needed help and support for a cause that they really believed would make a significant difference in the big picture of the community. I thank George and Marla for believing in me and sharing my goal.”

University of Miami Board of Trustees Chairman Leonard Abess echoed that sentiment, and said he is not surprised by the level of commitment the Bergmanns showed through their philanthropy, and each other.

“In the years I knew George, I’m sure he was passionate about many things,” said Abess, “but he was truly passionate about giving back to the community, and Marla. If you saw Marla or George and you didn’t see the other one, you knew you weren’t looking far enough. All you had to do was go in the next room or the hall, and the other one was there.”

Before presenting the chairs, University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala thanked Mrs. Bergmann for the couple’s generosity and foresight in making the dedication possible.

“What it really gives Dr. Eismont is the flexibility and resources to keep up his work at the University of Miami and to have an impact on patients for years to come,” Shalala said. “As the government starts withdrawing or leveling out the money they give us for research, it is very important for us to keep some flexible resources, and that is what endowed chairs give us the opportunity to do.”

A similar message came from Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of the University of Miami Health System, who told guests that endowed chairs help to not only recruit world-class scientists and clinicians, but also to retain them and acknowledge their work.

“An endowed chair is the highest academic honor in higher education and is provided to world-class scholars to support their research and education programs in perpetuity,” Goldschmidt said. “These endowments allow us to support the ongoing work of the top physicians and researchers, and I am proud to say the Miller School of Medicine boasts the very best.”

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