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Wake Forest's Charlotte medical school building to be named for Howard R. Levine, retired CEO of Family Dollar

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The primary academic building for the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Charlotte will be named after business leader and philanthropist Howard Levine, the Atrium Health Foundation said Tuesday.

Levine’s foundation has agreed to provide a $25 million gift to the Atrium foundation for the medical school, which is slated to open in 2024.

Charlotte is the largest city in the U.S. without a four-year medical school, and the school has been long been a goal of the city’s civic and elected officials.

The Howard R. Levine Center for Education will include not only the medical school, but also the Wake Forest University School of Business, Wake Forest School for Professional Studies and Carolinas College of Health Sciences.

Levine is the retired chairman and chief executive of the Family Dollar retail chain, which was founded by his father, Leon.

The Levine family also has provided donations to Atrium toward the naming rights for the Levine Children’s hospital and Levine Cancer Institute. The Levine Therapeutic Recreational Center is being built on Atrium’s main behavioral health campus in Charlotte.

“Giving back has always been a natural thing for me,” Howard Levine said in a statement.

“People say it’s easy to give away money. But to do it right, you’ve got to be thoughtful. I approach this as an investment.

“I consider it a privilege to be a part of bringing Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Charlotte to our city and helping to advance higher education opportunities and world-class medical research.”

Atrium chief executive Eugene Woods said that the $25 million gift for the education center “will enable us to equip future health clinicians with the curriculum, tools and facilities to create an educational experience that is constantly on the cutting edge of the latest science.”

“As importantly, it will enable us to expand career pathways to underserved populations through targeted pipeline programs in coordination with the other educational institutions in this region.”

The Giving Hope Campaign is seeking at least $500 million in donations toward support of the medical school and other key Atrium Health programs and initiatives. The Levine gift is the largest to date for that initiative.

Atrium formed a partnership with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2019 with the intent of establishing a Charlotte medical school. It went on to acquire Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in October 2020.

Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, chief executive of Wake Forest Baptist and the medical school dean, has said construction will begin in early 2022.

There are plans to start the first class with 48 students and a goal of up to 100 students in future classes.

Woods has said the medical school could have 1,600 educators and a diverse mix of 3,200 students.

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@rcraverWSJ

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