Leading by Example
Tom and Elizabeth Tierney
Tom and Elizabeth Tierney have helped raise millions for the construction of a state-of-the-art new university hospital slated to open in 2009.
A few years back, Tom Tierney needed a couple minor operations. A successful entrepreneur and resident of Cota de Caza, he could have sought care anywhere in Orange County. He chose to have his surgeries performed at University of California, Irvine Medical Center .
He’s glad he did.
“The successful outcome came the instant I stepped through the front door,” Tierney said. “Everyone from the admissions staff, building engineers, nurse and physicians greeted me with a smile. The care was excellent.”
That experience turned him and his wife Elizabeth into true believers in the excellence of UC Irvine Medical Center. So when fellow board members at the University of California, Irvine, Foundation selected the couple to co-chair the fundraising campaign for the construction of the new university hospital, the Tierneys readily accepted.
Over the past four years, Tom and Elizabeth Tierney have sponsored countless fundraisers at their home, private clubs and elsewhere to attract gifts. They also made their own seven-figure donation as an example.
To date, the Tierneys and other friends of the university have raised more than $30 million of the campaign’s goal of $50 million in private funding [State bonds, hospital reserves, equipment leases and other monies will cover the remaining $321-million balance].Tom said he and Elizabeth won’t rest until all of the money is raised for the state-of-the-art hospital, which is slated to open in early 2009.
“Tom and Elizabeth Tierney are extraordinary individuals whose tireless efforts on behalf of the University of California, Irvine Medical Center will yield 21st-century, state-of-the-art health care and will create a long-lasting legacy for both the community and the university,” said David N. Bailey, UC Irvine vice chancellor for health affairs.
When looking at the partially completed steel-and-glass edifice, Tom Tierney said he sees not a hospital under construction but rather “seven levels of healing.” With 191 rooms, most of them private, the hospital will offer patients and their families more comfort and amenities. For doctors, 15 state-of-the-art operating rooms, with the ability to accommodate not only today’s advanced technologies but also that of the next generation as well, will allow physicians to scale new heights.
“The hospital is more than a building,” Tom Tierney said. “It’s a tangible symbol that Orange County continues as a center for medical excellence that can be achieved only by a premier academic medical center.”
For more than two decades, the Tierneys have proven stalwart supporters of UC Irvine, which Elizabeth Tierney said “has adopted us, welcomed us with open arms.”
The couple has endowed scholarships in the arts, social sciences and humanities, including the creation of a lifetime chair in peace studies, the first in the UC system. The Tierneys also made the lead gift for the Thomas T. and Elizabeth C. Tierney University House. In 1990, the Tom and Elizabeth Tierney, individually, received The Medal, UC Irvine’s highest honor.
Tom Tierney’s office at Tustin-based Vita-Tech International Inc., the nutritional supplements manufacturer he heads, is filled with UC Irvine memorabilia. A UC Irvine cap sits on a bookshelf and a shovel used in the groundbreaking ceremony for new university hospital leans against the wall.
Despite their emotional connection to the university, neither Tierney attended UC Irvine. Tom earned a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit and a master’s degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology, while Elizabeth Tierney graduated with a B.A. from California State University, Fresno and a master’s degree from Chapman University in Orange.
Even so, the Tierneys bleed only Anteater blue and gold.
“Elizabeth and I love the University of California, Irvine and always will,” Tom said. “It’s part of our DNA.”
— Bill Ross, University Advancement