Sandra and George Norcross have announced a $5 million pledge to Cooper University Hospital. It is the first commitment in a $50 million capital campaign to help fund the rapid expansion of one of New Jersey’s preeminent medical centers. The Norcrosses are co-chairing the campaign with Sal Paolantonio, a member of the Cooper Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees. As part of their pledge, George and Sandra Norcross presented a check for $1 million to the Hospital.
The pledge coincides with the recent accreditation of the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and the announcement of the new Cooper Cancer Institute. The Cooper Medical School, an initiative led by George Norcross’s father nearly 40 years ago, will be the first new medical school in New Jersey in more than 30 years and one of only 135 in the country. It will admit its first class in the fall of 2012.
The new $100 million Cooper Cancer Institute in Camden will break ground in April 2012 and is expected to open in the fall of 2013. A state-of-the-art comprehensive, multidisciplinary cancer center and the expansion of its Voorhees campus program will provide world class cancer care close to home.
“This check and our pledge is a way to honor our past, while calling the next generations into action,” said George Norcross. “We are doing this in the names of our parents, George and Carol Norcross; John and Doris Triem; and the entire Norcross family. It was my father’s original dream that Cooper, to which he had dedicated so much of his life as a trustee and advocate, would become the backbone of a new future for Camden and the entire South Jersey community.”
The initial donation and pledge comes amid continued momentum in the hospital’s $600 million expansion of The Cooper Health Sciences Campus, comprising 20 square blocks in downtown Camden – the most dramatic physical expansion and improvement in the area in decades. Through partnerships with city, county, and state agencies, and numerous community partners, the investment in the neighborhood has resulted in the rehabilitation of local parks, pedestrian-friendly streets and housing.
The Most Reverend Joseph A. Galante, Bishop of the Diocese of Camden, said, “George’s dedication and commitment to the revitalization of the City of Camden is demonstrated by this extraordinarily generous pledge that he and Sandy have made.” He added that “George’s continuing effort to replace the despair of the present with hope for the future encourages all of us.”
Sal Paolantonio, noted author and national television commentator for ESPN, spoke of the Norcross legacy and Cooper’s vital role over generations. “George is always looking to make a difference. As a prominent businessman, philanthropist and ardent advocate for urban education reforms, I can think of no single person or family that has had more of an impact on this community.”
“At the end of the day, world-class healthcare is about people first,” said Sandra Norcross. “I am proud to be associated with the team at Cooper and the difference they are making in the lives of families and communities here. Their hard work and dedication to providing compassionate patient services is what will truly shape the future of this region’s well-being.”
In December 2008, Cooper completed construction of a $250-million, 10-story Patient Pavilion, the largest project in the city’s history.
“Camden and Cooper need these kinds of community champions,” said Wendell Pritchett, Chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden. “You can see the positive impact of these kinds of heroic efforts as they transform the region – neighborhood by neighborhood and person by person.”