Toni Wilkes, MD, and David Wilkes, MD, 1982 graduates of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have committed a $2 million gift to the Katz School of Medicine. The gift will establish the Drs. David and Toni Wilkes ’82 Endowed Scholarship Fund and will award scholarships to students who are under-represented in medicine. The Wilkes Scholarship is a bequest, but in addition to the bequest the Wilkeses are also giving money to the school now. All recipients of the scholarships will be named Wilkes Scholars.
“We are so grateful to David and Toni Wilkes. They are a gift – and they’ve made a gift of exceptional potential and power,” said Amy J. Goldberg, MD, FACS, Interim Dean and George S. Peters, MD and Louise C. Peters Chair and Professor of Surgery at the Katz School of Medicine, and Surgeon-in-Chief of Temple University Health System. “David and Toni know there are scores of talented, ambitious, selfless young people in population groups sparsely represented in medicine who want to be in medicine -- and would be wonderful in medicine. Health and wellness prosper when there are natural connections, relatabilities, between physicians and the patients they serve and the scholarship that Toni and David created tangibly furthers these aims.”
Preferred candidates for the Wilkes scholarship will be Katz medical students in financial need who belong to a national organization that the Wilkeses were part of during their student days: the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). Most members are Black, Latinx, and other students of color prevalent in America yet largely absent from the physician rolls.
“There’s deep purpose in this scholarship,” said Dr. Toni Wilkes. “In addition to what it means to us, it’s a thank-you to Temple for giving us a superb education.”
“Our scholarship is an enactment of principles and priorities that we -- and Temple -- prize,” added Dr. David Wikes.
Toni Eldridge and David Wilkes met -- and married -- in medical school at Temple. She practiced obstetrics and gynecology for two decades. A pulmonary and critical care physician, he navigated a demanding career in academic medicine, retiring this year as Dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Before Virginia, they lived in Indiana, where she was in private practice, and he held leadership roles at the Indiana University School of Medicine. They raised two children.
David Wilkes established a company he’s still working with, and he serves on boards, including the Katz School of Medicine Board of Visitors, the school’s chief team of external advisors. As a board member, David Wilkes has seen firsthand Temple’s commitment to providing care to its underserved community and its ongoing focus to train the new generations of underrepresented in medicine physicians. Since 2013, he has also served as National Director of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program seeks to increase the number of people from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who go on to achieve leadership positions in academic medicine, dentistry, or nursing – and through education and mentoring, prepare them for those roles. Toni Wilkes is involved with community service and activities with her church.
Like Temple, Drs. Toni and David Wilkes are passionate about shaping talented students into clinically excellent, culturally competent physicians. Physicians who will make a positive impact through doctoring, service leadership, and community-building.