Children’s Hospital Namesake Remembered for Commitment and Caring

Monroe Carrell

Monroe Carell Jr. during one of his frequent visits to the hospital that bears his name

Photo by Dana Johnson.

­­­Monroe J. Carell Jr., BE’59, a Nashville executive admired as much for his philanthropy as for his business acumen, died June 20 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 76.

The former chairman and chief executive officer of Central Parking Corp. provided strong volunteer leadership for Vander-bilt initiatives and numerous other causes.

“I cannot overstate the impact he has had on Vanderbilt’s past, present and future,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “Through his leadership on the Board of Trust and enormous philanthropic generosity, Monroe established one of the finest children’s hospitals in the country and created scholarships that changed the lives of students.

“He led Vanderbilt’s Shape the Future campaign with a vigor and passion that only
he could possess, and he challenged all of us to reach higher in our goals for this great

“If you’ve been fortunate, you should share it. Taking it with you–or holding on to it–doesn’t bring you any more happiness.”

~ Monroe Carell Jr.

A member of Vanderbilt University’s Board of Trust since 1991, Carell and his wife, Ann, have long supported various segments of the university, including undergraduate education, the children’s hospital that now bears his name, the School of Medicine and athletics. At the time of his death, he was leading the comprehensive, university-wide Shape the Future campaign, which has experienced unprecedented success.

Carell also served on the Vanderbilt Medical Center Board and the board of overseers for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and was an honorary lifetime member of the board of directors of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital.

The Shape the Future campaign was publicly launched in 2003 with a goal of $1.25 billion. In late 2006 the Board of Trust voted to increase the goal to $1.75 billion in anticipation of reaching the original goal two years ahead of schedule.

A secondary goal of $100 million in bequests was reached in 2007, and the Board of Trust, at Carell’s request, raised the bequest goal to $150 million. The campaign is scheduled to close Dec. 31, 2010.

When the Shape the Future campaign reached its $1 billion milestone in September 2004, an editorial in The Tennessean newspaper stated, “It is Vanderbilt’s spending of the money–not its raising of it–that should most impress this city,” noting that the campaign priorities included need-based scholarships, faculty chairs and residential colleges.

Carell’s gifts to Vanderbilt included the Ann and Monroe Carell Jr. Family Chair in Pediatric Cardiology and the Carell Scholarship Fund. Perhaps his most significant commitment to Vanderbilt was leadership of the campaign to raise $50 million to help establish a new children’s hospital, which previously had been housed within Vanderbilt University Hospital. Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, which opened in 2004, is recognized as one of the nation’s top pediatric teaching, research and treatment institutions.

In all, some $79 million has been committed to the Children’s Hospital as a result of the Carells’ generosity as well as Monroe Carell’s personal fundraising efforts and leadership.

“His legacy will live on in the lives of the countless children he helped to improve through the hospital that bears his name,” said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for health affairs.

A 1959 cum laude graduate of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering, Carell received the school’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001. The native Nashvillian served in the Navy before enrolling at Vanderbilt, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Carell was chief engineer with the Duck River Electrical Membership Cooperative before going to work for his father and a business partner at Central Parking in 1967.

Central Parking, which had 10 parking lots in Nashville and Atlanta when Carell began work there, is now the world’s largest parking services provider with more than 4,000 parking facilities. Carell sold Central Parking to a group of private equity firms in 2007. He resigned as executive chairman and, with his family, formed Carell LLC, a real-estate investment company.

In 1998 Carell established a fund to provide a total of eight full-tuition scholarships to excellent, hard-working students engaged in their community and committed to the broadening experience of working while in college. In 2006 the Carell Scholarship Fund was expanded to include a baseball scholarship. There are now 20 Carell Scholars and two Monroe J. Carell Jr. Baseball Scholars; 14 have graduated, and eight are still students. A new Carell Scholar will enter Vanderbilt this fall.

Carell is survived by his wife, the former Julia Ann Scott, who graduated from Peabody College in 1957, and by three children, six grandchildren and a brother.

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