When the doctors at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, saw Jay Alix for an annual exam 25 years ago, they had no idea he would go on to donate millions of dollars to the nonprofit.
The corporate turnaround specialist is pledging $200 million to what will now be called the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, the largest gift Mayo Clinic has received from a living donor. The money will expand scholarships, establish a professorship and fund further innovation in the school's curriculum, according to a statement Tuesday.
"Mayo has a clear-eyed view of what medicine and what doctors will need to be and do in the future," Alix said in a phone interview. "I think this gift is transformational for Mayo to achieve those hopes and dreams and to bring Mayo to the forefront of medical education."
Alix, 63, founded what became AlixPartners LLP in 1981. The firm has since advised on some of the largest Chapter 11 reorganizations including General Motors Co. and Enron Corp. When forming AlixPartners, Alix said he modeled the company on the patient-centered, collaborative approach of the Mayo Clinic. After selling control of the firm in 2006, he has dedicated his time to pro bono advisory work and creative activities.
He remains the largest individual shareholder in AlixPartners with about a 35 percent stake, according to a May lawsuit he filed against McKinsey & Co. Alix has a net worth calculated at about $1.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Alix's lawsuit alleged the consulting giant engaged in racketeering to get ahead in the market for advising bankrupt companies. McKinsey has called the claims meritless.
Ten years ago, in the midst of the Great Recession, Alix decided to focus his pro bono work on two institutions: General Motors and Mayo Clinic. Alix has since served in various advisory roles including co-chair of Mayo Clinic's Global Advisory Council and was recently named to the board of trustees.
"I have no scientific or medical background, but I thought my business skills could be helpful," Alix said.
The Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine has campuses in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida, with students rotating among locations during their training. The scholarship funding will allow the school to recruit an even greater diversity of students, said Fredric Meyer, dean of the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.
The other part of the gift will go toward strengthening the school's emphasis on innovation and technology. For example, funds will support and develop dual-degree programs that integrate concepts like artificial intelligence and bioengineering with medicine.
"Patients migrate to Mayo Clinic for the diagnosis of complex illness and the treatment of serious illnesses," said Mayo Clinic Chief Executive Officer John Noseworthy. "Whatever that patient needs to reach a diagnosis or address their complex procedural issues, that whole team is created around each patient individually bringing technology to that solution, bringing science to that solution."
This article was written by Reade Pickert, a reporter for Bloomberg.