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UK faculty member Dr. James Norton follows his passion with gifts to the UK College of Fine Arts and UK's Center for Interprofessional Health Education. Photo by Lee Thomas

Albert Einstein once wrote, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. So the unknown, the mysterious, is where art and science meet."

Dr. James "Jim" Norton, semi-retired professor in the University of Kentucky Department of Psychiatry, believes physicians who deliver excellent patient and community-centric care are made at the intersection between the arts and sciences. Channeling his convictions into philanthropy, Dr. Norton has given to the College of Fine Arts and Center for Interprofessional Health Education.

"I believe health care is a team activity, and accordingly, it is critical that health professions students be nurtured in the skills and attitudes necessary for collaborative practice early and often in their training," Dr. Norton said. "Patient outcomes are better when providers from different disciplines work as a team."

A review of Dr. Norton's long and fruitful career of nearly 50 years at UK describes a clear story of engaging colleges and communities to support health professions education and the arts. Dr. Norton arrived at the University in 1972 and joined the neuropsychology faculty. In 1994, he directed the then newly developed Community Based Faculty Program (now called the Voluntary Faculty Program).

Through the program, students received immersive training in private medical practices under the supervision of volunteer health practitioners. Dr. Norton also saw the program as an opportunity to expose the faculty of health professions, voluntary and internal, to the work of the College of Fine Arts (CFA).

Dr. Norton and his team, in collaboration with then-associate dean of the College of Fine Arts, Dr. Geraldine "Geri" Maschio, arranged for CFA theatre, music and facilities to be part of the annual Community Based Faculty Conference, an event used to thank community faculty for their service and provide professional development.

Last year, Dr. Norton used his philanthropy to deepen the connections between health professions education and the arts at UK.

He has given to establish two funds. First, the James C. Norton College of Fine Arts Development Endowment and Gift Fund that will be used to support the needs of the college. And the Promotion of Interprofessional Health Education Endowment and Gift Fund to support the Center for Interprofessional Health Education (CIHE), which facilitates interdisciplinary learning and development for students and faculty in the colleges of Dentistry, Health Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine, Public Health, Social Work and Communication and Information.

Dr. Norton has structured his gifts to fund the CIHE and CFA now and forever into the future. The immediate support will be provided through outright gifts of cash and the perpetual support will be provided through deferred gifts Dr. Norton has included in his estate plan.

Dr. Norton's gifts tell a unique story of his passions, generosity and vision. "We are very grateful to Dr. Norton for this generous gift to the center in support of our students, faculty and patients. Anyone who has had the privilege of knowing Dr. Norton recognizes his long-held passion and expertise at pulling together individuals, colleges and communities to improve the knowledge and skills of health professions students," Jim Ballard, current director of the CIHE said. "Frankly, his appreciation for collaboration is in his DNA. He was instrumental in the development of, and support for, the center beginning around 2009. This continued throughout his tenure as the center's director from 2015 to 2019. This gift represents his legacy to support the health of the citizenry in the Commonwealth by improving the abilities of health professionals to provide better care together than they can alone."

"Dr. Norton has chosen to set a personal example of generosity by providing perpetual support to the college," said Mark Shanda, dean of the UK College of Fine Arts. "With this gift, he affirms his longtime love and passion for the arts, to assure student opportunity for future generations of artists and audiences alike."

For Dr. Norton, the decision to give back was simple. "I have had a wonderful career at UK and was given opportunities I would never have imagined possible. Aside from graduate medical education, most of what I've done has to do with outreach. I feel like community engagement is critical to institutions like UK and fortunately, that view has been shared by UK leadership for a very long time. As a consequence, I had amazing levels of support in my work with AHEC, continuing education and other things that involve collaboration with external partners. I cannot imagine a better place to work, so giving back seems natural to me."

To learn more about how you can impact students, programs, patients and communities served by UK, visit our planned giving webpage or contact Gift and Estate Planning at (859) 257-7886. UK's Gift and Estate Planning Department has a team of professionals ready to assist with tax-wise giving strategies. We look forward to serving you!

You can read Dr. Norton's full story here.