On a “personal mission of giving back”

Michael and Linda Witte

As a second-year student in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (COMS), now DMU, Michael Witte, D.O.’77, got involved in student government. So did his friend and classmate, Larry Baker, D.O.’77.

“Perhaps that participation spurred each of us to continue a relationship with the school since,” Dr. Witte says. “Larry followed in the footsteps of a previous board member and alumnus, Dr. Joseph Baker, his father, who served as his inspiration and mentor, much like Larry does for me.”

Both Dr. Baker and Dr. Witte have served as preceptors for DMU students and as members of the DMU Board of Trustees. Dr. Witte began taking on students and lecturing on campus after completing his medical training at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver and then serving 10 years in the U.S. Army. Board-certified in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, he now is the chief executive officer, a pulmonologist and a critical care physician with CIC Associates in Des Moines, which he joined in 1987. In 2013, he joined the DMU Board of Trustees, was elected vice-chair in 2015 and is serving as chair for 2018-2020.

“I have watched with amazement the transformation of COMS into DMU as it integrated with the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery and the College of Health Sciences,” he says. “This renaissance has continued over the past seven years under the leadership of President Angela Franklin and her highly effective administrative staff and faculty.”

He’s also pleased with the role the University plays in discussions on critical health issues.

“DMU has become very relevant in the dialogue about state health care policy, in reducing unfair practices of attaining postgraduate education, and particularly in the advocacy for mental health accessibility and the transformation of the delivery of care for that orphan issue,” he says. “DMU is committing to this endeavor with people and capital, and our efforts are being recognized locally and at state and federal levels.”

That doesn’t mean the University can become complacent about its position. Needs such as physical plant maintenance and enhancement, technology upgrades, retention of outstanding faculty and increased scholarship funds underscore the priorities and importance of Purple & Proud: the Campaign for Des Moines University.

“When I graduated, COMS was one of eight osteopathic colleges. Now there are 34, and this means competition for the best applicants,” he says. “We need to be in a strong financial position to be able to effectively compete in this environment, and this goal can be achieved with an effective capital campaign.”

Dr. Witte and his wife, Linda, are leadership donors to Purple & Proud as members of the Founders Society, which honors donors of cumulative lifetime gifts of $100,000 and more. He explains their giving in the context of the career he’s enjoyed.

“To achieve a Founders Society level of giving that Linda and I committed to at the start of this campaign, I will have given less than 1 percent of my career earnings. This level of support could be considered a career-long goal for each alumnus,” he says. “I and all alumni should view our personal mission of giving back as an opportunity to support the institution that helped us achieve our dreams and as a way to help others to achieve their dreams.”

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