Dr. James George has donated $1 million to launch the George Family Center for Healing Arts of Rowan University.
The center will encourage and mentor the next generation of artists, therapists and practitioners dedicated to using expressive arts to facilitate healing and positive change in their communities and the world.
Inspired by the healing power of art, George is a living testament.
A reignited love of the arts helped drive his recovery following a catastrophic fall in his home that left the emergency medicine physician quadriplegic.
“I know firsthand how the power of creating can be truly therapeutic,” George said. “Practicing art has made and continues to make a huge impact in my recovery and my life.”
In partnership with the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts, the George Family Center will foster wellness and growth through expressive arts that heal and inspire.
George earned both his medical degree and law degree from the University of Louisville in 1970 and then began a career at the former Underwood-Memorial Hospital in Woodbury.
He served his community for decades as an emergency medicine physician until his devastating accident left him hospitalized for nine days in Jefferson’s neuro intensive care unit, followed by his six-month admission to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia. While at Magee, he regained partial functional use of his nondominant left arm and leg, and limited use of his right arm and leg.
When he was introduced to art therapy during his in-patient rehabilitation stay at Magee, the miracle of art’s healing ability took hold in ways he never could have imagined.
“My daughter approached the art therapist and asked her to see if I would like to paint,” recalled George, a longtime Rowan University Foundation board member. “I thought, how can I paint when I can’t use my right arm and hand? But, my art therapist encouraged me to use my left hand. Over several days, I became more and more attracted to abstract painting with no limitations, just total artistic freedom.”
George has donated artwork to Magee and Rowan, where many of his paintings hang on walls at Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine in Sewell and in the offices of the Division of University Advancement in Glassboro, among other locations.
George paints nearly every day and, by his estimate, has completed over 5,000 works of art.
Edelman CCCA Dean Sanford Tweedie said the center’s goals will be collaborative and expansive, from patient support to community outreach to exhibiting art.
“Through their work at the George Family Center, Rowan students and professionals will bring arts to South Jersey health care settings, including our two medical schools and through our health care partners,” Tweedie said.
Rowan President Ali Houshmand said George is nothing short of inspiring.
“Dr. James George is a longtime member of the Rowan community and a friend who leads by example,” Houshmand said. “Thanks to his generous gift, Rowan will help unlock the healing power of creativity. And that may be the greatest gift of all.”