Campus News

UK Honors Alumnus Whose Gift Will Transform Medical Education in Kentucky

photo of Dr. Capilouto and Dr. Wendy Jackson unveiling medical coat for Dr. Michael D. Rankin
photo of 4 UK medical students with Capilouto, Rankin and Jackson
photo of Dr. Michael D. Rankin at podium

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 13, 2021) — Dr. Michael D. Rankin, a 1980 graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, was honored today for his monumental $22 million gift commitment that will transform medical education in Kentucky.

Rankin’s gift is the second-largest single gift in university history and will support scholarships in the College of Medicine and the construction of a new health education building.

“Through this gift, Dr. Rankin has left an indelible mark of healing and hope, not just on this university, but on the state of Kentucky,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “His influence will be felt by generations of students and the patients they later serve.”

As part of Rankin’s gift commitment, $12 million will support the current “Michael Rankin MD Community Scholarship Endowment.” This scholarship provides support for medical students from rural Kentucky counties having unmet financial need.

“I felt strongly that it was important for me to step up and establish a scholarship so students could concentrate on their studies and not have to worry about food insecurity or where they were going to live,” Rankin said. “We need more doctors from all across the state and if this helps support students who otherwise would have difficulty completing their studies, then we have accomplished our goal.”

Rankin’s gift is also a catalyst in the efforts to construct a new health education building. During the May 4 UK Board of Trustees meeting, the design phase for the construction of the building was approved.

“When I was a student, we mostly sat in lecture halls but as times have changed I want to make sure our students have access to world-class and state-of-the-art technology,” he said.

The plan for the building includes approximately 380,000 square feet for classrooms, simulation suites, conference rooms, support for newer technologies such as distance learning, immersive video and telemedicine instruction as well as office and support space for the College of Medicine, College of Public Health and other health care colleges.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Rankin worked for six years as an electrical engineer to help pay for medical school, receiving his degree in 1980. He completed his residency in family medicine in 1983 at UK HealthCare and then pursued a highly successful practice in primary care and family medicine in Atlanta, before retiring and returning to Boyle County on a farm just 10 miles from where he grew up.

As an alumnus, Rankin has devoted himself to the college, its success and the success of its students and has been an invaluable member of the UK Medical Alumni Association, past president of the UK Medical Alumni Association and associated board, chair of the Dean's Advisory Council, and volunteer faculty in the UK Department of Family and Community Medicine. In addition, he has served many years on the College of Medicine scholarship and admissions committees.

“Rankin’s impact is felt through this gift, his scholarship fund and his all-around support of the university, and especially the College of Medicine,” said Dr. Bob DiPaola, UK acting provost. “We’re incredibly grateful for his work with the UK College of Medicine and his generous donations to the college, both financially and through his service.”

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.