Ann Suker Potter ’82 and Stephen N. Potter, ’82 MBA, of Kenilworth, Illinois, have been supporting areas across Northwestern since the mid-1980s, when they made their first gift of $150 to support scholarships. Since then, their generosity has touched the University libraries, the Kellogg School of Management—of which Mr. Potter is an alumnus—and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. In January 2017, the couple documented a $1 million bequest to benefit the Jacob R. Suker, MD, Professorship in Medical Education at Feinberg.
“The faculty and staff at Northwestern are so talented, and we know how expensive it is to stay at the leading edge of healthcare at Feinberg,” Mr. Potter said. “We appreciate this great institution that we have in our midst, and feel that we and others who are able have an obligation to sustain it.”
In September 2016, Roopal Vashi Kundu, MD, associate professor of Dermatology and associate dean of admissions at Feinberg, was formally invested as the Suker Professor.
The Potters’ Purple Roots
Ann and Stephen met while pursuing their undergraduate studies at Duke University, but didn’t date until the two were at Northwestern—Ann was earning her master of arts in public policy and Stephen his master of management in business. Stephen proposed on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, and the two were married two weeks after graduation in 1982.
Ann worked in state government for several years after graduation, eventually retiring to care for the couple’s two children—Claire (29) and Stephen (26)—who now live in New York and Chicago, respectively. Ann later got back into politics, serving on various village commissions and being elected as a village trustee. In April 2017, Ann was elected the first female president of the Village of Kenilworth, Illinois.
Two weeks after the couple was married, Stephen began working for Northern Trust Corporation, where he has been ever since. Today he serves as president of Northern Trust Asset Management, and will become vice chair of the Corporation in October.
“Making this commitment to the medical school has been much more gratifying than I had expected,” said Mrs. Potter. “Because of our family’s longstanding association with Northwestern and its medical school, we had some understanding of the great work being done there, but this new connection has deepened our appreciation and, unexpectedly, enriched our lives.”
An Enduring Family Legacy
The couple’s gratitude for Northwestern goes even beyond their status as alumni—Ann’s father, Jacob R. Suker, ’56 MD, for which the professorship they are supporting is named, served on Feinberg’s faculty for his entire career.
Dr. Suker came to Northwestern in 1941 at the age of 16 to pursue his undergraduate education. After serving in the merchant marine during World War II, he returned to accept his bachelor of arts degree in 1947 and his master of science in biochemistry in 1951. After graduation, he became an instructor at the medical school, which he then decided to attend himself. After earning his medical degree in 1956, Dr. Suker continued at Northwestern to complete his internship and residency training. He joined the medical school faculty in 1962.
A lifelong lover of Northwestern, Dr. Suker ascended the ranks at the medical school. Starting as an assistant professor, he went on to establish an integrated residency program at McGaw Medical Center, the success of which led to his appointment first as assistant dean, and then associate dean for Medical Education. In this role, Dr. Suker was responsible for the graduate education and continuing medical education programs, and had a significant impact on myriad Northwestern medical trainees. Dr. Suker also served as team physician for the Chicago Cubs for 28 years, and as medical director for the Wrigley Company. He passed away in December 1989 after his battle with lung cancer.
“Jake was a great scientist and doctor, but really I think of him as a devoted humanist,” said Mr. Potter. “He made every one of his patients and every person around him feel good, regardless of their economic or social status. He spent the same amount of time with the factory workers he cared for at Wrigley Company as he would with the University president.”
“A truly terrific guy, Jake really had an amazing positive energy and a wicked sense of humor,” continued Mr. Potter. “Helping to perpetuate his legacy and prominence at Northwestern is really important to us.”
“We are so grateful that the University recognizes my father, and we want to help to continue his legacy,” said Mrs. Potter. “It is amazing. Even though he died nearly 30 years ago, most of the people we meet who have been affiliated with Northwestern for a while know who he is and the impact he made.”