Wake Forest Law, Medical Schools Receive $7 Million Gift; Scholarships Created

Law and medical school students at Wake Forest University will benefit soon from a gift totaling more than $7 million from the estate of the late Dr. Ralph Wingate Bland, a Wake Forest college and medical school graduate who practiced medicine in Goldsboro for 33 years. The estate gift, divided evenly between Wake Forest’s School of Law and School of Medicine, will support scholarships awarded for fall 2008.

“Dr. Bland’s gift is the largest from an alumnus in the medical school’s history,” said Dr. William B. Applegate, dean of the School of Medicine and interim president of Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

In the School of Medicine, the income from the new Ralph W. Bland, M.D. Fund will support a full-tuition scholarship program. Bland Scholars will be selected on the basis of financial need, academic ability, demonstrated leadership and special talents.

“Scholarship support is crucial to our ability to serve society and our students by providing access to the most worthy candidates,” Applegate said. “It allows the School of Medicine to compete with its peers for those top students, and it decreases the stress on students when it comes time to make career decisions. They can follow their passion for a given medical specialty without succumbing to financial pressures due to excessive educational debt.”

The Bland estate gift will assist the School of Law in its efforts to make an education in the law accessible to talented students dependent on scholarship support by establishing the David H. Bland and W. Powell Bland Scholarship.

The late physician’s father, David H. Bland, was a 1904 Wake Forest college graduate, and his brother, W. Powell Bland, was a 1940 college graduate and a 1948 School of Law graduate. Both are deceased.

“Because of the unavoidable expense associated with a legal education, scholarships have become essential elements in the quest to build a talented but diverse student body,” said School of Law Dean Blake D. Morant. “The generous gift provided by the Bland estate ensures that gifted students will have the benefit of the unique, student-centered education for which the Wake Forest University School of Law is known. I and others in the Wake Forest community are sincerely grateful for this path-breaking investment in the lives of our students.”

Bland, who died in 2006, received a Bachelor of Science degree at Wake Forest in 1948 and a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1952. He completed an internship and general and plastic surgical residency at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. He was certified with the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.

His medical career in Goldsboro spanned more than three decades. He served Wayne County Memorial Hospital as president and as chair of the hospital’s surgery department. Bland also served as president of the North Carolina Surgical Association, president of the Goldsboro Cancer Association, and as a director of the North Carolina State Board of the American Cancer Society.