Xavier receives $4M gift to support future medical school

Xavier University received a $4 million donation to support the creation of a new on-campus College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The gift came from orthopedic surgeon and longtime Xavier University trustee Dr. Robert Heidt Jr. and his wife, Julia Heidt, along with the Adam R. Scripps Foundation. Julia Heidt is a member of the Scripps family.

Once complete, the college will become the first Jesuit Catholic osteopathic medical school in the United States. The inaugural class will begin in 2027.

“This remarkably generous gift lends further support to a project that will change the primary care landscape in our state and beyond,” said Xavier University President Colleen Hanycz.

Family tradition of giving

The Heidts’ support for Xavier isn’t new. The family has had a philanthropic relationship with the university dating back nearly two decades. The couple was instrumental in establishing the Heidt Family Champions Center, which opened in 2021 as the new home to XU’s cross country, track and field, swimming, soccer and baseball programs.

Dr. Robert Heidt Jr. and his wife, Julia Heidt

Including their latest gift, the Heidts have given more than $8 million to Xavier.

The gift from the Heidts comes amid a historic two-year period of fundraising for Xavier University. In December, the university secured an anonymous $50 million donation to benefit the creation of the medical college. It equaled the largest donation in the university’s history, which came from the estate of Harry and Linda Fath in November 2022. One month later, XU received another $20 million gift from John and Sarah Lechleiter. Those funds are going toward endeavors such as student scholarships and a state-of-the-art science building.

“As longtime members of the health care community, our family understands the critical importance of solving the physician shortage our country faces, and we are proud to support Xavier in addressing this need,” Robert Heidt said. “The Xavier University College of Osteopathic Medicine will serve as a tremendous asset to the community, and we are excited to witness that impact in the years ahead.” 

Addressing Ohio’s medical needs

Xavier is creating the College of Osteopathic Medicine as a way to address what the university called a critical, nationwide need for additional primary care doctors. Ohio, for example, must add nearly 700 primary-care physicians to its workforce by 2030 to meet demand, according to forecasts from the Robert Graham Center, a Washington-based research organization focused on family medicine and primary care.

Osteopathic doctors, or DOs, apply a holistic, patient-centered approach to medicine that focuses, primarily, on preventive health care. DOs rely on the latest science and technology, but they also consider options to complement pharmaceuticals and surgery. They practice in all medical specialties, including primary care, pediatrics, OBGYN, emergency medicine, psychiatry and surgery.

A rendering of the proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine on Xavier University’s campus.

The university took a major step toward the creation of the medical school in late October when it hired Dr. Steven Halm to lead its formation. His tenure as the college’s dean began in February.

The medical school will have inaugural class will have an estimated 75 students, with plans to gradually expand class sizes to 150 per class. Xavier will graduate its first class of physicians in 2031 to align with school’s bicentennial.

“The Xavier University College of Osteopathic Medicine embodies our longstanding Jesuit Catholic mission, which includes fostering wellness in all dimensions while meeting critical community needs,” Hanycz said. “Bringing this vision to fruition would not be possible without the support of the Heidt family, and I am sincerely grateful for their continued commitment to Xavier’s mission.” 

Xavier College of Osteopathic Medicine

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