RUSH has been part of the Chicago landscape longer than any other healthcare institution, dating back 175 years. Rush Medical College was founded by Daniel Brainard, M.D., who named the school in honor of Benjamin Rush, M.D., the only physician with medical school training to have signed the Declaration of Independence.

Over the years, RUSH has grown to be one of the nation’s top medical facilities—Rush University Medical Center ((RUMC) formerly Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center)—and a renowned research and medical academic institution in Rush UniversityWilliam Blair has served RUSH in multiple capacities, serving as underwriter to its bonds and manager to its endowment funds.

E. David Coolidge III, William Blair’s vice chairman and former CEO, has had the distinction of being a trustee for RUMC since 1990, and has a working relationship with RUSH dating back to the 1960s.

“When I started at William Blair, I had the pleasure of working with the late Edward ‘Ed’ McCormick Blair,” Coolidge says. “He was an exceptional individual, had a profound appreciation for the arts, and as a strong desire to give back. At the time, he was the chairman at RUSH, and it was from that moment I was introduced to just how incredible an institution RUSH was. For me, it was transformative.”

Dave Coolidge, vice chariman

Coolidge recalls such brilliant academic leaders as James “Jim” Allen Campbell, M.D., who helped lead the rebirth of Rush Medical College through the 1960s and ’70s to what is now Rush University.

“I have seen firsthand how the institution continued to evolve during my career, how RUSH expanded and grew over the years through philanthropy and harnessing the capital markets through bond issuance into what is today a regional center of clinical excellence. And for me, RUSH further stands out by embracing its heritage on the West Side of Chicago and serving that community as richly as they have over the past half-century,” Coolidge details.

Served by current-day leadership of Larry Goodman, M.D., interim president at Rush University and former RUMC CEO, and Dr. Omar Lateef, president and CEO of RUSH University System for Health, RUSH is considered a nationally recognized for excellence in patient care, breakthrough research, community engagement, and technological innovation. During the COVID pandemic, RUSH was recognized as one of the top treatment centers in the country.

Philanthropy Begets Philanthropy

Carlette McMullan, partner, wealth advisor, philanthropist, at William Blair, explains her and her family’s unique ties to RUSH.

“It all started (in 1985) with an unfortunate medical condition involving my father. Thankfully, he was expertly diagnosed and treated at RUSH and from that moment on, we have enjoyed a deep affiliation with RUSH,” says McMullan. “My parents (James (Jim) and Madeleine) always had a strong desire to help those less fortunate, and their foundation was created specifically to provide funding for education, community work, health care, and organizations that help the underserved. I think that’s why they always appreciated the sense of community and giving back that RUSH has demonstrated over the past several decades, and it certainly aligns with our core tenets here at William Blair.”

Carlette McMullan, partner, wealth advisor

The McMullan legacy echoes many of the hallmarks of the RUSH institution: integrity, pioneering spirit, and community. Jim began his William Blair career in 1969, and in 1987, he and his wife formed The James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation. The foundation endowed a chair in cardiology, The Madeleine and James McMullan – Carl E. Eybel, MD. Chair of Excellence in Clinical Cardiology, as well as endowing a Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory for the new wing at RUMC. Today the cardiology chair is held by Dr. Annabelle Volgman, Director, Rush Heart Center for Women, the first heart program in Chicago devoted exclusively to women. Carlette McMullan steers the family’s foundation and has actively enjoyed many philanthropic efforts of her own, including serving as a member of the Women’s Board for RUMC since 2011.

McMullan notes some of the other ways RUSH has given back to the community, including The Road Home Program, dedicated to the mental health and wellness of veterans, service members and families at no cost, and regardless of discharge status. RUSH also partnered with other local medical institutions to form West Side United, established in 2017 to build community health and economic wellness on the West Side of Chicago.

“We have always admired how RUSH truly advanced the standard of care for all patients; no matter their age, race, wealth, or gender,” McMullan concluded.

Holistically One of the Finest Medical Institutions in the Country

“One of the most remarkable things about RUSH throughout the organization has been their innovations in utilizing information technology, which have certainly enabled them to be a much more nimble clinical and academic facility,” says Karl Palasz, partner and managing director with the Healthcare IT investment banking group at William Blair.

He is also a past president of Rush University Medical Center’s Associates Board and currently serves on the Board of Governors of Rush University.

“It’s not only their systems that are highly advanced, but it’s the combination of people and the unique utilization of their technology infrastructure that really set RUSH’s clinical systems apart from other institutions. It’s also how they’re structured; their clinical expertise influences the academic and research organizations. I think it’s that flow of practitioner’s knowledge, along with their mission-oriented patient-care philosophy, which make Rush University so special.”

Karl Palasz, partner, managing director

RUSH has cultivated the reputation of a university focused on patient care and excellence in clinical practice.

Palasz concludes, “Few, if any, institutions collectively can match the academic, clinical, and business excellence of RUSH. And that’s not to denigrate the other many fine institutions in the U.S., let alone the other world-class centers of medical excellence here in Chicago.” Coolidge adds “I would include a fourth area—community engagement—these four areas make RUSH one of the premier medical and academic centers, and to me, RUSH exemplifies precisely what’s right with healthcare here in the U.S.”