Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation Creates Endowed Directorship for Moran Eye Center’s Outreach Programs

May 12, 2020 2:30 PM


Photo of the Moran Eye Center.

The Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation has given a transformative $1 million gift to support sight-saving outreach work in Utah and around the world by creating the John A. Moran Eye Center Global Outreach Division’s first endowed directorship.  

For decades, humanitarian work has been integral to the Moran Eye Center, which has a culture of connecting its physicians and staff, working on a volunteer basis, with those in need. 

“This generous gift comes at a critical time. It makes it possible for us to recruit an outstanding, visionary leader to guide our team as we work to expand the program and to meet increasing needs in Utah. The Dumke family has always been there for us, and we could not be more grateful for their support and confidence in our program.”

Randall J Olson, MD, Moran CEO and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Utah

Supported solely by donor funds, the outreach team partners with governments, academic institutions, and physicians in the developing world to create low-cost, high-volume ophthalmic surgical centers of excellence. In addition to conducting sight-restoring surgeries and ophthalmic training abroad, Moran’s outreach work is making a significant and growing impact in Utah.

In the greater Salt Lake area, Moran physicians and staff provide eye screenings and glasses regularly to the refugee, homeless, and uninsured populations. They perform much-needed charity surgeries throughout the year, making it possible for patients to continue to work and care for their families.  

In partnership with the Utah Navajo Health System, the outreach team has visited the Navajo Nation more than 20 times over the past five years to provide eye surgeries, vision screenings, and eyeglasses.  

Legacy of Giving

Dr. E.R. and Edna Wattis Dumke
Dr. E.R. and Edna Wattis Dumke

The ability to see the need and make a difference by supporting health care and humanitarian causes in Utah runs long and deep in the Dumke family, starting with the philanthropy of Dr. E.R. and Edna Wattis Dumke in the 1950s. Their philanthropic work, carried on by their children and grandchildren today, has left its mark on countless lives and institutions.  

Moran’s new endowed directorship came as part of a major donation by the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation to University of Utah Health. It included $5 million to support Health Sciences’ Simulation and Experiential Learning and $500,000 for the School of Medicine’s Rural and Underserved Utah Training Experience. 

Dr. E.R. and Edna Wattis Dumke with children, Martha Ann, Zeke Jr., and Ed.
Dr. E.R. and Edna Wattis Dumke with children, from left, Martha Ann, Zeke Jr., and Ed.

The philanthropic relationship with Olson began in 2003 when Zeke Dumke Jr. realized that the rapidly growing Moran Eye Center needed a larger building. He made a gift of $100,000 so Olson could hire a surveyor and get started on what would become Moran’s current, 210,000-square-foot home. The architecturally stunning center opened in 2006 with two pavilions—one to provide clinical and surgical care, and the other to house Moran’s world-class research labs.  

Martha Ann “Markey” Dumke Healy, Zeke’s sister, was also a major investor in the new building. She joined with younger brother Ed Dumke to name Moran’s clinical and surgical care wing the Dr. E.R. & Edna Wattis Dumke Clinical Pavillion.   

Now, after 40 years of serving as foundation board members and continued giving to the health care and arts communities, Claire Dumke Ryberg, Nancy Healy Schwanfelder, and Andrea Dumke Manship, are in the process of sunsetting the foundation in hopes of creating a lasting legacy. 

“This final gift strengthens the legacy of Edna and Zeke and is a tribute to the long-standing relationship between Markey, Zeke Jr., Ed, and the Moran Eye Center,” said Randall J Olson, MD, Moran CEO and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Utah. “We will make the most of it, honoring the Dumke name as we grow our outreach programs in Utah and around the world.” 

vision outreach giving