A Prominent UA Alumni Couple Contributes the Largest Arts and Sciences Endowment in More Than Two Decades

From left, Susan McCollough, Dr. Gaylon McCollough, President Stuart Bell, and Dean Robert Olin
(From left) Susan McCollough, Dr. Gaylon McCollough, President Stuart Bell, and Dean Robert Olin

From the May 2017 Desktop News | Two prominent University of Alabama alumni, Dr. E. Gaylon and Mrs. Susan N. McCollough, have gifted the College of Arts and Sciences with its largest academic endowment in more than two decades – for the purpose of creating two unprecedented initiatives: The Dr. E. Gaylon McCollough Institute for Pre-Medical Scholars and the Susan N. McCollough Art Biennale.

The Institute, which is slated to be considered by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees in June 2017 and welcome its first class in the 2019-2020 academic year, seeks to attract the best and brightest students in the country.

The McCollough Institute for Pre-Medical Scholars will offer innovative interdisciplinary pre-medical training focused on academic excellence, applied analytics, leadership, community service, scholarly research, and ethical professionalism.

“Susan and I have long been committed to the pursuit of excellence. We have dreamed of creating unique educational experiences in an academic environment that enlighten the mind and buoy the spirit,” Gaylon McCollough said.

“We envisioned a broad-based course of study, uniquely designed to prepare aspiring physicians for the scholastic and professional challenges that lay ahead and a venue through which scholars pursuing careers in art could see their works appreciated by individuals from all walks of life.

“We are convinced that the Institute for Pre-Medical Scholars at The University of Alabama will be the fulfillment of a major part of our vision and place our alma mater at the top of institutions attended by the most promising of tomorrow’s physicians and surgeons.”

Similar to other living-learning communities on campus, the McCollough Institute for Pre-Medical Scholars will provide tomorrow’s physicians the opportunity to live with a cohort of students with similar interests—in this case, the pursuit of a medical career.

“We are truly thankful for the generosity shown by Gaylon and Susan McCollough,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “They embody The University of Alabama spirit in so many ways, including their commitment to education, leadership and service. This gift is an excellent way to share their success with future generations of pre-medical and art students.”

McCollough Pre-Medical Scholars will engage in freshman foundations courses, biweekly convocations, independent research and seminars, and also be encouraged to take a wide variety of interdisciplinary classes, in addition to small seminar classes open only to students involved in the Institute.

The McCollough Institute will also provide opportunities for concentrated mentorship by limiting the number of freshmen admitted to 40 per academic year, with no more than 160 students in the program at one time.

“We are incredibly grateful for the continued generosity of the McColloughs and of their dedication to our students,” said Dr. Robert Olin, dean of the UA College of Arts and Sciences. “Susan and Gaylon have been great friends of the College with the establishment of the McCollough Medical Scholars Forum and now these one-of-a-kind initiatives.

“Their vision of providing a comprehensive, pre-medical education—one that actively incorporates the humanities—is extremely powerful and will benefit our graduates for years to come.”

A portion of the McCollough’s gift will create the Susan N. McCollough Art Biennale, a contemporary art exhibition showcasing the art of leading professionals alongside emerging and alumni artists. The biennale is expected to attract students to the University who view art as a passion and career.

Prior to this gift – the largest contribution to the College of Arts and Sciences in the last two decades – the McColloughs gave a substantial gift to establish the Susan and Gaylon McCollough Medical Scholars Forum at UA.

In February 2017, the McCollough Medical Scholars Forum celebrated its 15th anniversary. The Forum will function inside the Institute and remain a critical part of pre-medical students’ UA experience.

Gaylon McCollough, former UA All-American athlete and scholar, is a prominent facial plastic surgeon. He is president and CEO of the internationally-acclaimed McCollough Plastic Surgery Clinic and founder of the McCollough Institute for Appearance and Health in Gulf Shores.

In 2015, Gaylon McCollough received the Theodore Roosevelt Meritorious Achievement Award from the United States Sports Academy, and he will be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in May as its 2017 Distinguished Alabama Sportsman.

He is also recognized by his peers as one of the Best Doctors in America and one of America’s Top Plastic Surgeons. At UA, the 1965 honors graduate was an Academic All-American on Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s 1964 National Championship football team, after which he opted to focus on a medical career in lieu of one with the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League.

Susan Nomberg McCollough is an internationally-acclaimed abstract and impressionistic artist who has produced hundreds of paintings, many of which have won national and international awards.

She is a former Miss University of Alabama, ROTC Sponsor, Corolla Beauty and Miss Alabama, International, who was crowned in Long Beach, California in the event which gave way to the Miss Universe pageant.

In regard to the art biennale component of the McCollough’s gift, Susan McCollough said, “I look forward to promoting the art department at The University of Alabama. The biennale will provide students—right out of college—a platform to exhibit their work in a professional setting and alongside the works of established alumni/artists of The University of Alabama. For some it might be their first exhibition and open doors beyond imagination.”

Susan McCollough is a Trustee of the United States Sports Academy and, after serving for more than 10 years as an active member the Academy’s Art Committee, continues in emeritus capacity. The USSA Art Committee attracts and honors artists from around the world and is responsible for selecting featured artists for the Olympics. Her works can be seen at her gallery, The Susan N. McCollough Gallery/Studio in Gulf Shores or viewed online at susannmccolloughart.media.