Mordecais Invest in the Future of Health Care with New Professorship

April 5, 2018

The Alfred Winborne Mordecai and Victoria Stover Mordecai Assistant/Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences promises to make a difference in the lives of people the world over

Southgate DormitoryDuke was foundational for Al Mordecai, BSE'90, and his wife Tori, T'91. It's where they met, spent late nights with friends pondering big questions about life and world affairs, and gained a broad, expansive liberal arts education. Their recent gift to Duke Engineering honors Duke's impact on their lives and promises to make a difference in the lives of people the world over.

Al and Tori's gift to establish the Alfred Winborne Mordecai and Victoria Stover Mordecai Assistant/Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences was matched 1:2 through Bass Connections, a philanthropic program targeted to the recruitment of faculty leaders who can collaborate across traditional academic boundaries to address major challenges facing society.

Both Mordecais have a keen interest in health and health policy. He has had a career of more than two decades in investment management and says his first assignment was as a health care analyst. She received a graduate degree in health policy and administration in addition to her Duke degree. Over the years the two have maintained close ties with the Pratt School of Engineering. Both have been active in regional leadership activities in the Los Angeles area and Al has been a valuable member of the Pratt Board of Visitors since spring 2017.

"This just seemed like a perfect fit for us," says Al. "As we looked to the future and what can make a big difference in people's lives, we both felt that the profound impacts in health care will come from the use of new high-performance computational tools to analyze big data."

Visionary philanthropists Anne and Robert Bass launched Bass Connections with a $50 million gift in 2013. It provides $25 million in matching funds for endowment and expendable gifts from $100,000 to $2 million for a wide range of programs, including multi-disciplinary research projects, scholarships and educational initiatives, faculty recruitment, and graduate and professional student fellowships, all focused on a theme of information, society, and culture.

Al Mordecai sees the new professorship as an investment in the kind of education and research that will create the biomedical engineering leaders of the future.

"I believe...a critical function of a Duke Engineering education is really about learning to solve problems and to love learning," he says. "It's a skill set that is important to solving a whole host of health problems in our society, from heart disease to cancer. We think that's where this professorship could have a meaningful benefit. We are very humbled and grateful that we can contribute in this way."