2019 update on the Cassie Murphy-Cullen Scholarship
By Bruce Echols, MD and Sammy Sriva, MD
Cassie Murphy-Cullen, PhD, passed away December 9, 2008 after a lengthy illness. To honor her memory and continue her work, former residents, friends, colleagues, and family of Dr. Cullen established a fund within the TAFP Foundation to assist residents of family medicine training programs in Texas wanting to attend national meetings and present their research. At the time the fund began, there were 27 family medicine residency programs in Texas. A few have closed since then and new ones have opened. Currently there are 33 programs scattered throughout the state.
We write this post — along with a big “thank you!” — as an update to all our generous donors. We want to assure you that your gifts are being used faithfully. The TAFP Foundation has been exceedingly happy with the growth of — and even more so, the purpose — of this fund.
Fundraising began in mid-2009 and by December of that year, almost $10,000 had been donated. A year later in December of 2010, it had reached $25,000, the threshold at which awards could be distributed. The funds are designed to be perpetual, allowing 4-5% of the interest to be used each year. It is replenished by investment growth of the principal plus new donations. It reached $30,000 by April of 2011 and in July of 2011 the Scholarship Fund was formally announced at the TAFP Annual Session in Dallas, with members of the Cullen family in attendance. In August of 2013, funding reached $40,000 and currently is at $55,000.
The first scholarships were given in 2012 and they have been given annually since then. Thus far 20, residents have been selected out of 32 applicants. That’s two or three residents each year, with awards ranging from $600 to $900 per resident. A total of $15,424 will have been awarded over the 2012—2019 time period.
Applicants have represented 13 of the 33 Texas residency programs. The most frequent programs with residents receiving funds have been UT San Antonio and Texas Tech Permian Basin in Odessa. This underscores the fact that both urban and rural programs can be competitive for the awards. We will continue to promote this among those programs that so far have not had applicants and we anticipate continued growth in the numbers of applicants in the future.
We are no longer actively soliciting funds by mass mailings — frankly, we have been amazed how the funds have grown already — but we are not discouraging additional donations, should any of you be so inclined. The Foundation is being more conservative with its investments in anticipation of a possible economic downturn, so we don’t expect to see the same growth we have experienced in the past. It is always a good thing to be able to give out larger awards and to also reward more applicants.
Thank you again to all the donors who have helped make this memorial scholarship such a success. Please know your generous contributions are going solely for the purpose of the fund without any overhead or other deductions.