William J. Schoen Named 2003 International College Humanitarian of the Year

International College will honor businessman and philanthropist William J. Schoen as the 2003 Humanitarian of the Year during the 7th annual reception and luncheon on March 20 at the Ritz-Carlton Naples, 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road.

William J. Schoen is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Naples-based Health Management Associates (HMA). He retired from the position in 2001, but continues on as HMA’s Chairman of the Board and Corporation Chairman. Schoen’s responsibilities include overseeing HMA’s strategic direction and maintaining ties with the financial community. The healthcare company owns 44 hospitals in 14 states and is currently seeking to build a hospital in Collier County.

Since 1997, International College has recognized a local person for public service and benevolence through civic endeavors. A video biography of Schoen will highlight the event.

“I am humbled and honored to be a recipient of International College’s Humanitarian Award. I know that previous Humanitarian Award recipients have also made important philanthropic contributions, so I am proud to be associated with this fine group of individuals,” Schoen said. “Collier County is especially blessed to be the home of so many extraordinary and generous individuals.”

Past honorees are Frances Pew Hayes, philanthropist and founder of the Teddy Bear Museum; Earl G. Hodges, founder of the Earl G. Hodges Funeral Chapel; Corbin Wyant, former publisher of the Naples Daily News; J.R. “Jack” Humphrey, president of International Packaging Machines, Inc.; Myra Janco Daniels, president and CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts; and philanthropist Lavern Gaynor.

A Humanitarian Award Committee that included past winners, International College friends and supporters and both the International College President’s Council and Board of Trustees, chose Schoen.

“I think a testament to any great person is the number of people who have followed in their footsteps,” said College President Terry P. McMahan. “Mr. Schoen is a humanitarian in all respects. He is concerned, compassionate and honorable. His commitment to education and dedication to community identifies strongly with our mission.”

Since relocating to Naples in 1981 and accepting a position on the board of directors for Health Management Associates in 1983, Schoen has pioneered a new focus of healthcare delivery. His unique vision of acquiring rural, primary-care based hospitals has helped make HMA one of the most profitable healthcare companies in America.

Schoen also has given to more than 50 community service and charitable organizations through his foundation, including St. Matthews House, the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, Hospice of Naples, Naples Christian Academy and the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. In addition to donating money, Schoen also donates time by serving on various committees, such as Destination Florida Commission, the governor-appointed group charged with attracting more retirees to Florida.

Schoen said he gives back because, as a Devout Christian, it’s a belief to which he holds true. His wife, Sharon, and four children are also involved in charitable endeavors.

“If a person can’t see the benefit of helping other people then they’ve missed the whole point of life on earth,” Schoen said. For Schoen, an adult learner much like the students at International College, education is a critical component in achieving success. Several years ago, he set up a scholarship through his Alma Mater, the University of Southern California, which provides scholarships to military veterans.

Joseph Vumbacco, HMA President and CEO and Schoen’s long-time friend, shares in Schoen’s commitment to education.

“Like Bill, I started out very poor. Through education, I achieved greater success than I could ever dream. Education is the portal through which many things can occur,” Vumbacco said. “Bill is a perfect example that if you have tenacity and a willingness to work hard, there are tremendous opportunities out there.”
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