Chapter 06: The Board of Visitors and Views of Dr. Charles LeMaistre


Chapter 06: The Board of Visitors and Views of Dr. Charles LeMaistre



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The interview begins with Thomas Dunaway Anderson’s recollections of his uncle, Monroe Dunaway Anderson, the founder of the M.D. Anderson foundation and namesake of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The interview continues with a description of the establishment and purpose of the M.D. Anderson Foundation and the growth and development of several recipients of M.D. Anderson’s philanthropy, including the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Medical Center. Thomas Anderson’s memories and interactions regarding Dr. Randolph Lee Clark, the first full-time president of what is known today as the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, are recounted as well. A discussion concerning Thomas Anderson’s family contributions associated with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Medical Center ends the interview.



Publication Date



The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - Building the Institution; MD Anderson History; MD Anderson Snapshot; Building/Transforming the Institution; Institutional Processes; Portraits


Louis Marchiafava, PhD :

You mentioned earlier in the interview about the Board of Visitors. How did that name come about?

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

Well, that is pretty easy. It is a term . . . Lee Clark had gone to medical school in Richmond, Virginia, and it is a term that is used there in lieu of the term "board of directors," or alternatively to the term "board of directors." For example, the Virginia legislature has appointed a board of visitors to literally visit Mount Vernon, George Washington's old home. They don't run it. It is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the union, and my wife has been very active in it for 30 years, until recently. They have no real responsibility except to be sure, I suppose, that they are not running it for somebody's private benefit -- that it continues to be a tax-free, property tax-free institution. And so, the Ladies Association welcome the Board of Visitors annually, I think, for a big feast and show them around, give them a big party, and they go home well-content with being on the Board of Visitors. He just brought that term to Texas with him.

Louis Marchiafava, PhD :

It is an interesting connection that he has made. Now, you served on the Board of Visitors for some years.

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

When it was revived, Lee Clark asked me to be the chairman and help him get it going again, and at that point, we used to meet around a table in a room smaller than this. Now, it has 300-400 members. I don't know how many. I am a so-called "lifetime member." I don't do anything except go to the meetings, but it has expanded immensely and has become a very useful fund raising adjunct, I guess you might say, to the development office. The development office tries to remain more or less invisible but it arranges the meetings of the Board of Visitors and the entertainments that go along with it, and the fund-raising efforts that go along with it. The development officer out there, his name is Pat Mulvey [oral history interview], and he is a very suave and effective fund raiser. I think he has the term of assistant vice-president now. He is a top-notch man. Of course, all of the presidents have been absolutely top-notch men. After Lee Clark retired, Mickey LeMaistre [oral history interview] came to take his place and he was outstanding in his own way.

Louis Marchiafava, PhD :

When you say, "his own way," what does that mean?

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

Well, he was not the same kind of personality as Lee Clark. He was not as outgoing, but he was really an organizational whiz. He had been Chancellor of the University of Texas system before coming down here to take charge of this institution, which is only one of many components of the University of Texas system. And whatever it needed in terms of organization or restructuring, he knew how to do. He, too, was very persuasive, not quite as extroverted perhaps as Lee Clark. And then, of course, he retired and John Mendelsohn has taken his place now, and you know all about him.

Louis Marchiafava, PhD :

With the board of visitors, in the earlier days, it must have been a smaller group. Did they have a more direct impact, more than fund raisers? Did they actually have set policies or discussed policies?

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

No. They could not do that. The Board of Regents sets the policies. But perhaps some of those policies are responsible to what the president of the Cancer Center recommends, and he used the Board of Visitors, Lee Clark in particular, as a sort of sounding board for what he has in mind as a suggested policy. I think, basically, we were just a bunch of yes men, because almost whatever he wanted to be done, they would say, 'That's fine, have at it.' And it succeeded almost beyond measure.

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Chapter 06: The Board of Visitors and Views of Dr. Charles LeMaistre