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Duke University School of Medicine Names New Facility The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education


Duke Health News 919-660-1306

Duke University’s Board of Trustees has approved naming the School of Medicine’s new Center for Health Education in honor of the late Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, a philanthropist with a lifelong commitment to the University.

“Mary Semans’ unwavering support for the school’s missions of research, education and patient care was always a source of inspiration to our faculty and students,” says Nancy C. Andrews, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the Duke University School of Medicine. “It is fitting that Duke Medicine’s new home for health education be named in her honor so that her legacy will be a constant reminder, now and in the future.”

According to Victor J. Dzau, M.D., chancellor for health affairs and CEO of Duke University Health System, Mary Semans "was a close friend who represented the very heart and soul of Duke Medicine. She will always have a presence on the university campus, and naming the Center for Health Education in her honor befits the legacy she has left the medical center.”

Semans, who died on January 25, 2012 at the age of 91, had deep roots with the University. Her grandfather, Benjamin Newton Duke, his brother, James B. Duke, and their father, Washington Duke, were the chief benefactors of Trinity College, which later became Duke University. In 1924, James B. Duke established The Duke Endowment, one of the largest private foundations in the country. Semans was a trustee of The Duke Endowment for 55 years and served as its first female chairman from 1982-2001.  

“Mother loved Duke Hospital and the Duke Medical Center and we are so pleased that her memory will be kept alive for the future medical students and leaders who will pass through these halls,” said Mary Jones, Mrs. Semans’ daughter.

The new Center for Health Education, currently under construction, was initially funded with $35 million from The Duke Endowment. When it is completed in late fall 2012, the five-story, limestone and glass facility will be centered at the heart of the medical campus. It will feature high tech teaching and learning opportunities, including an entire floor of simulation laboratories, flexible classroom space, teaching labs, and event space. Classes will begin in the new building in January 2013.

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