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$20 Million Wong Gift Launches Leading-Edge Eye Institute at Dell Med

Oct. 6, 2016

The Wong family of Austin is contributing more than $20 million to create the Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute, a leading-edge center to train future ophthalmologists and provide patients with the best medical and surgical eye care possible.

Shannon and Mitchel Wong.

The institute will further research into the improvement and preservation of vision. And it will allow for a new focus on ophthalmology at the Dell Medical School, helping the school achieve its mission of transforming health care around better outcomes, improved patient experiences and lower costs for individual patients and the community as a whole.

“The Wong family’s medical contributions to Austin go back decades,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of the university. “Their transformational gift to the Dell Medical School ensures that the family legacy will extend for all the generations to come.”

“The Wong family’s story is Austin’s story — we’re honored that they’ll build part of their legacy on Dell Med’s campus,” said inaugural Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston. “The Eye Institute will contribute much to our school and the way we train physicians. But it’s also a fabulous metaphor for the health care transformation we’re trying to help accelerate in Austin — it’s helping us all to see more clearly what the world looks like and how we can help make it better.”

Mitchel and Shannon Wong.

The institute is named for father-and-son ophthalmologists who are well-known physicians and philanthropists in Austin. Mitchel Wong’s family moved to Austin in the 1930s and opened a grocery store on Red River Street. He enrolled at UT in 1957 and graduated in 1960, trained at Baylor College of Medicine, and returned to Austin to open Austin Eye in 1969.

His son Shannon also grew up in Austin, returning to the city after college and medical school to join his father’s practice in 1997. The Austin Eye clinic has two locations in Austin.

Shannon Wong said the creation of an eye institute at the medical school, which welcomed its first class of 50 medical students in June, represents “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave a legacy for future generations. It helps everybody. It helps the community. It helps our immediate family because it sets an example for our children. It helps us pay it forward to the next generation.”

“To have a medical school at The University of Texas, it’s going to be good. It’s going to be one of the best medical schools in the country because The University of Texas will not tolerate second class,” Mitchel Wong added. “We’re starting off on the ground floor. Long after I’m gone, this will enhance the future of eye care and research in our community and beyond.”

Watch a 2015 segment of KLRU’s “Austin Revealed” featuring the Wong Family >