William Listwan, MD '68, GME '74, always insists that he did not attend medical school alone. "I always say that 'we' went to medical school," says Dr. Listwan. His wife, Marlene, was at his side through the entire journey – and it was a team effort.
Dr. Listwan's medical school years were busier than the typical student's. While attending the Marquette University School of Medicine (the Medical College of Wisconsin's predecessor institution), Dr. Listwan had to juggle his coursework, working and a rapidly growing family.
During his first year of medical school, Dr. Listwan married Marlene. Ten months later, they had their first daughter. By his final year of medical school, Dr. Listwan and Marlene had welcomed a second daughter.
"I was always busy. Whether it was school, work or family, something was always going on," says Dr. Listwan. "Marlene was the rock that held our family together. In addition to the household chores, she worked outside of the home to help cover our expenses. If it wasn't for the strength of Marlene, I never would have gotten through."
Even though the expenses of medical school were significantly less when Dr. Listwan was a student, the tuition he paid covered only part of the cost of his education. A good part of the rest was paid by the financial contributions of others who were supporting the medical school with their donations. With a little help from his family, and Dr. Listwan and Marlene both working, they were able to pay the medical school bills.
"I have great appreciation for the fact that medical school costs can be a heavy financial burden for the current students," remarks Dr. Listwan. "I love the idea of paying it forward and helping out the current medical students so that they can thrive in school and beyond." To that end, this year the Listwans have made a commitment of $100,000 to his Class of 1968 Endowed Scholarship Fund. This gift will be leveraged as a challenge grant to inspire his classmates to give as they celebrate their 50-year graduation anniversary in 2018.
Dr. Listwan and Marlene also drew from their personal experience with breast cancer to guide their generosity. Marlene, who has battled the disease, felt it was important to give back to a cause – cancer research.
Dr. Listwan and Marlene also bestowed a challenge grant when they established the Dr. William J. and Mrs. Marlene F. Listwan Fund in Cancer Imaging Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center with a $200,000 commitment.
Their gift will match funds – dollar for dollar – that are raised for the MCW Cancer Center.
The Listwans want to support the institution that helped launch his career. Dr. Listwan credits the experiences that he had at MCW's predecessor and at MCW for his long and successful career. "My experience here was instrumental in my success," says Dr. Listwan. The Listwans are members of MCW's Walter Zeit Fellowship, established in 1980 to increase contributions from alumni, as philanthropic support was critical for MCW to become a nationally recognized institution – and of which Dr. Listwan has served as chair for more than 17 years.
As chair, Dr. Listwan was given the task of providing the inspiration and leadership needed to swell the ranks of the Zeit Fellows. The Listwans continue to do this with their matching gifts – a perfect way to mark Dr. Listwan's service as he steps down as chair following this year's Zeit Recognition Dinner on Friday, October 6, 2017, at Discovery World in Milwaukee.
MCW is grateful for his service and leadership on the Alumni Association Board and MCW Board of Trustees, and for securing new and continued philanthropic support for the institution. In recognition of his outstanding service to the profession, to MCW and to the Medical College of Wisconsin/Marquette Alumni Association, Dr. Listwan received the Association's Distinguished Service Award in 1992.
Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Listwan has been guided by a philosophy of compassion and care. "I have found that the best thing a physician can do is listen," says Dr. Listwan. "Often the real reason a patient comes to see me is completely different than the reason he or she puts down on the registration form or tells the nurse. You just have to listen and find out who they are and what their concerns really are."
– Alex Krouse
ALUMNI | PHILANTHROPY
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