In gratitude for internist excellence: The Phillip August and Sarah Neely Herrmann Professorship in General Internal Medicine

Betsy Trowbridge, MD

A philanthropic gift dedicated to the transformational impact of internal medicine excellence recognizes the scholarly work of Elizabeth Trowbridge, MD, clinical professor and head, General Internal Medicine.

As the first faculty member appointed to the Phillip August and Sarah Neely Herrmann Professorship in General Internal Medicine, Dr. Trowbridge is immeasurably grateful to donors Nina and Jim Donnelley. “This gift will help ensure that our work here can continue to focus on developing new ways to align primary care with population health goals,” said Dr. Trowbridge.

Under her leadership, General Internal Medicine has grown and become nationally recognized as a leader in quality and innovation. Dr. Trowbridge also helped to spearhead a UW Health primary care redesign effort and co-founded the Primary care Academics Transforming Healthcare (PATH) collaborative, a multidisciplinary coalition of physician and health care “change leaders” at UW. She is a fellow in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women, or ELAM, a program for women in senior leadership roles in academic health science institutions.

The Donnelleys created the endowed professorship in honor of Nina’s parents, Phillip and Sarah Herrmann. In his memoir, railroad dispatcher Phillip August Herrmann—a child of the Great Depression—wrote about why he spent more than 34 years as a weekly volunteer at the Western Maryland Center Hospital, single-handedly running a concession stand for patients and families. “The Center is a hospital for chronic patients, some of whom can’t talk. Those folks carry an alphabet board around and point out the letters to spell out what they want to buy,” Mr. Herrmann explained. Every time he considered quitting his volunteer stint, he thought of the patients and re-committed himself to returning.

Although he passed away in 2003 at the age of 88, Mr. Herrmann’s empathy and concern for patients would doubtless have resonated with Dr. Trowbridge. And empathy was a value that Phillip and his wife Sarah also instilled in their daughter, Nina Donnelley, a retired hospital chaplain and patient of Dr. Trowbridge.

“Nina's parents were very special people who collected friends and gave of themselves to their community and their church. We are pleased to be able to honor their memories in this way. And we are happy that a physician as outstanding as Betsy Trowbridge can hold this well-deserved professorship,” wrote Nina and Jim Donnelley. (Pictured at right: Phillip A. and Sarah N. Herrmann on their wedding day on June 27, 1944.)

Nina remembers her father as a telegraph operator and train dispatcher for the Western Maryland Railroad, a career that he began in 1936 and held until he retired in 1977. “He also taught Sunday school for over fifty years and volunteered for the Red Cross and for two hospitals. Phillip Herrmann was known as a great story-teller and a faithful friend,” said Nina. Her mother, Sarah Neely Herrman, was a homemaker who was active in her church. Phillip and Sarah were married for 58 years and resided in a house they built in Hagerstown, Maryland. Both enjoyed traveling, and together they visited every continent and all 50 states.

“Because of Nina and Jim's generosity, the Herrmann’s legacy of kindness and intellectual curiosity will positively impact generations of patients. Being able to honor their memory in this way is incredibly meaningful,” said Richard Page, MD, George R. and Elaine Love Professor and chair, Department of Medicine. “We are deeply grateful.”