SMU College of Podiatric Medicine Receives $1 Million Donation

Samantha Bronson

The late Dr. William Lowe, DPM ’57, and his wife Phyllis have donated $1 million to Samuel Merritt University’s College of Podiatric Medicine. 

“This gift was a thank you,” said the Lowes’ son, Darrin Lowe, DPM ‘82. “My father became the person that he was because of the podiatry school. It provided him with his education and provided both him and the family with opportunity. He wanted to give back to say thank you.” 

The gift will support construction of a new campus for Samuel Merritt University in downtown Oakland. The new campus will also serve as the new home of the College of Podiatric Medicine. Currently under construction, the state-of-the-art campus will showcase the most advanced capabilities in health science education. The campus will include a new Health Sciences Simulation Center occupying 41,000 square feet, a new Motion Analysis Research Center that will further establish the College of Podiatric Medicine as a leader in biomechanics education, as well as classrooms and cutting-edge anatomy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and podiatric medicine labs. The University will honor the Lowes with a prominent naming opportunity on the new campus.

“Dr. Lowe was a legend in this area,” said Tim Dutra, podiatry assistant professor. “He had such a knowledge, love, and desire to give back and keep our profession going. It was really important to him that the school and the profession continue to flourish and grow.” 

The first in his family to graduate from college, Dr. Lowe opened his own practice shortly after earning his degree. He chose to locate his practice in Richmond so that he could work with underserved patient populations, said daughter Sandra Lowe Lawson. “He had an opportunity to practice in a wealthier community, but he chose to stay,” she said. “That was who he was. He really lived his principles.” Dr. Lowe practiced for about 30 years, earning a reputation as a dedicated, caring podiatrist who took his time working with each patient. In the mid-60s, he co-founded a racially and gender diverse group with five other podiatrists who recognized business was not included in the curriculum.The group, Pod 6, was organized to provide guidance on the business aspects of running a podiatry practice. In the 1970s, he served as president of American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and served as a role model to numerous SMU students throughout his career. “He enjoyed not just giving back but also creating an atmosphere and enthusiasm for educational support of students,” said daughter Christine Hickey. Meeting with students was always a highlight, including recipients of the Dr. William and Phyllis Lowe Endowed Scholarship Fund that he and Phyllis established in 2005. 

Lowe couple
Dr. William Lowe and Phyllis Lowe

“Through the scholarship, they were already making a difference in a student’s life, and with this gift, they’ll now continue to have an impact but on a much larger scale and throughout the entire school,” said Christy King, DPM ‘09, one of the first scholarship recipients. 

“The Lowe family has been dedicated supporters of SMU and the podiatry school for decades,” said SMU President Ching-Hua Wang. “This most recent gift not only exemplifies this generosity and dedication but also contributes to the University’s momentum as we construct what will become our new flagship campus and transform the future of healthcare education.” The Lowes’ gift follows the news of a $10 million gift from the estate of Russell Odell Lewis, DPM ’65, to expand an endowed scholarship fund for nursing and podiatry students and various stellar rankings, including being named the best college in California for getting a job by career research website Zippia. 

“Bill and Phyllis Lowe have been leaders in the College of Podiatric Medicine in every way imaginable,” said Al Frisone, SMU’s vice president of advancement and communications. “They were pioneers in creating an endowment to support student scholarships over 20 years ago, and now, Bill and Phyllis have made their ultimate gift of $1 million to support a new campus that will house CPM for the next 100 years. We are grateful for the Lowes’ generous leadership and how it will inspire future generations of CPM podiatry students, alumni, and friends.”

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