During high school, Geoffery Engel, ’70, ’72 MD, ’79 GME, had planned to explore a career in science through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious summer program for academic achievers. Yet after applying to a dozen NSF programs, his hopes were dashed. He was not admitted to any of them. Fortunately, these rejections turned out to have a silver lining.
“Three days after my last rejection letter, Northwestern contacted me,” recalls the Cleveland, Ohio, native. “While I wasn’t accepted to their NSF-affiliated engineering program, they thought I would be an ideal candidate for the business school’s Cherubs program. So here I was, a 17-year-old on a big, beautiful campus right next to Lake Michigan. It was a fun and challenging academic summer, with interesting students from all over the country and engaging professors like the program chairman, Lawrence Lavengood. What was not to like?”
By happenstance, Dr. Engel’s fortuitous “in” on the Evanston campus resulted in him receiving a brochure about Northwestern’s Honors Program in Medical Education. He reviewed it and the rest is, well, purple and white history.
In 1972, he graduated from the accelerated BA/MD program, which included two years in Evanston and four years at the medical school on the Chicago campus. He also completed his residency training in surgery and urology at Northwestern. Dr. Engel then embarked on a 40-year-and-counting medical career in the Chicago area.
“I hung up my shingle in the northwest suburbs and waited to be discovered,” says Dr. Engel, who was founding partner and president of Northwest Suburban Urology Associates in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, for 34 years before selling his successful practice in 2015 to UroPartners, one of the largest urology groups of its kind in the Midwest. He now works part time for the group. “There’s no doubt graduating from one of the nation’s premier urology residency programs gave me a leg up in a competitive environment,” Dr. Engel says.
Grateful for the work ethic his parents instilled in him and the Northwestern medical education that shaped his professional career, Dr. Engel decided several years ago to pay tribute to both by creating the Ben and Rose Engel Surgeon Scientist Fund in the Department of Urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His generosity also recognizes the extraordinary influence of his mentor—the late John T. Grayhack, MD, former chair of Urology during Dr. Engel’s residency training—who taught him that “anything short of your best was not good enough,” Dr. Engel says.
“I wasn’t born wealthy, but I was able to pursue fulfilling work and live a comfortable life due to the skills and knowledge I gained at Northwestern,” says Dr. Engel, a part-time clinical instructor of Urology at Feinberg. “It’s appropriate to turn around and give something back.”
Dr. Engel has established a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) to benefit the medical school, in addition to documenting a generous bequest in his estate plans. CRUTs provide income to individuals for their lifetime or a term of years and offer charitable tax benefit. After the term ends, Northwestern receives the funds remaining in the trust. Donors can add to a CRUT at any time, increasing the trust principal and ultimately enhancing the value of their income payout and future gift to Northwestern.
Dr. Engel’s CRUT will support the fund in his parents’ name at Feinberg. The fund will be used to advance the work of early career faculty within the Department of Urology who focus on patient care, research, and teaching.
“The CRUT is a way for me to support my alma mater and, at the same time, serves as a retirement plan for me,” Dr. Engel says. “I like the flexibility of adding to the trust at any time and for any amount I choose. It has given me the opportunity to benefit Northwestern’s future and provide security for my future as well.”
For more information about supporting Feinberg, please contact Susan Clausen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-503-40742.