My Giving Story: Blaine Paxton Hall
Finding inspiration and connection at Duke
April 08, 2015 | by Jenna Brown
Finding inspiration at Duke is not hard for Blaine Paxton Hall. He sees it in the books that fill the shelves at the Duke University Medical Center Library and Perkins Library, in Duke Life Flight—the world’s first air ambulance started by two Duke alumni—as it hovers above campus, and even in a scrap of paper tucked in his lab coat pocket on which he scribbles a math problem to challenge himself throughout the day.
“I have been nurtured at Duke,” says Hall M.H.S.-CL’07, a physician assistant hospitalist for the Department of Hospital Medicine at Duke Regional Hospital and adjunct associate professor for the Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Health System (DUHS). “It is for me a supremely satisfying sense of deep connection with something much greater and more lasting than myself.”
A Chicagoan, Hall pursued a medical education, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Roosevelt University and physician assistant medical training at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. At Duke’s School of Medicine, Hall completed a master of health sciences in clinical leadership (M.H.S.-CL).
For more than 18 years, Hall’s affiliation with DUHS and Duke, as both a faculty member and alumnus of the School of Medicine, has continued to deepen. In addition to providing clinical care for adult patients, Hall teaches first year Duke physician assistant students. Hall provides mentorship and encouragement to the students as they develop self-confidence in beginning patient bedside training. “I very much enjoy teaching; it is rewarding to be in later contact with students and see them "all grown up" and successful in their careers," said Hall, who counts teaching as one of his fondest experiences.
“Duke has provided me with a tremendously rewarding sense of connection,” said Hall. “Having grown up in a children’s home, I had no connections.” Because the university has been a constant source of inspiration and a sense of belonging, Hall has named the Duke School of Medicine as the full beneficiary of a bequest through his retirement account.
Hall’s retirement fund is directed to the Blaine Paxton Hall Fund for the School of Medicine at Duke University, with hopes that the gift will, in part, support the physician and physician assistant education of health care for transsexual patients. This aspiration stemmed from a Grand Rounds presentation Hall gave titled “An Overview of Healthcare for the Transsexual Patient,” which he says was one of his most inspiring moments at Duke.
Hall also made a second bequest in his will, naming Duke Math Department as a beneficiary to receive a portion of his estate.
“Duke is a good steward of not only its financial assets, but also of inquiring minds,” said Hall. “To be connected to all the tangible and intangible opportunities, to all the exciting intellectual developments, and to all the smart people at Duke is exhilarating beyond explanation.”
What inspired you to make a gift through your retirement account and through a portion of your estate?
As I don’t have dependents who would naturally be named my beneficiaries, it seemed obvious to me that in regards to my retirement account, I should give it back to “from whence it mostly came.” So I have named the School of Medicine at Duke University as the sole beneficiary of my retirement account. Over the years I have contributed the maximum allowable, so that combined with the generous Duke contribution, my retirement fund has prospered nicely. Also, I hope to work, and contribute accordingly, for quite a few more years.
Why did you choose to include the Duke Mathematics Department in your will?
Very simply: I love math. Math is my true heart’s passion and inspiration. Math…is my muse. Galileo said, “Math is the language by which God has written the universe.” I understand this metaphorically and for me, there is no more noble and no more important intellectual pursuit than math.
I also believe that those who claim to have an education must understand math. Knowledge of math is essential in our increasingly technological world, if we wish to remain competitive on the global scientific front. I am presently studying calculus and I hope to continue studying math indefinitely.
Is there one theme or priority in the Duke Forward campaign that particularly resonates with you?
That would be the theme of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This greatly resonates with me as in my lifetime; I have forged a new path, or two. I greatly respect and admire entrepreneurs; we need to nurture such people.
Why do you feel giving is important at a place like Duke?
Duke is bigger than Duke. By that I mean that the Duke of the future will be bigger, better, and more influential than it is now, in ways that I cannot presently imagine. I wholly believe this is true and I put my money into what I believe and into where I have been nurtured.
I am proud to be a member of the Duke community, and very proud of my nephew who also received a Duke education as a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. I trust my story will inspire other faculty and staff to also make Duke a part of their estate plans during their employment.