Cottage Hospital Foundation Receives Massive Gift 

By Kelly Mahan Herrick   |   September 5, 2023
Mary and Richard Compton have committed to giving the largest single gift – $65 million – in Cottage’s 135-year history

Visionary philanthropists Mary and Richard Compton recently increased their gift to the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Foundation, for a total of $65 million to support medical excellence and innovation at Cottage Health. Adding to their prior $15 million gift, a new commitment of $50 million is the largest single gift in Cottage’s 135-year history and will be invested in the health of the Santa Barbara community and the region. “The Comptons’ generosity and commitment to the health of our community is extraordinary,” said Ron Werft, President and CEO of Cottage Health. “This transformational gift and crucial investment in our future allows us to identify and contribute to emerging medical technologies and research for the benefit of our patients and community.” 

The gift will create and name the Compton Center for Medical Excellence and Innovation, a new center bringing together top clinicians, educators, and research investigators to propel clinical and operational innovation – advancing healthcare for patients and families.

Based at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, the Compton Center will focus on applying the most promising clinical, educational, research, and digital advances to health care delivery. The Center aims to support Cottage experts and community collaborators in accelerating new projects that will help improve the health of the communities Cottage serves. Werft explained the Center will ensure that Cottage is accessing all of the emerging and proven technologies that can apply to medicine and healthcare, as well as employee recruitment and retention. This includes the use of emerging use of Artificial Intelligence and the building of a state-of-the-art simulation center for staff training.  

Mary and Richard Compton have been longstanding supporters of Cottage Health. Their lead gift to the successful Reaching Higher Together Campaign inspired other donors, helping to exceed campaign expectations. The hospital’s newest patient pavilion was named in their honor. The Mary and Richard Compton Endowment Fund for Medical Excellence and Innovation reflects the significance of ongoing innovation as one of the best ways to attract and sustain top-level medical talent at Cottage and ensure continued high-quality health care in Santa Barbara. 

“Cottage Health is eternally grateful to Mary and Richard Compton for their vision for our community,” said Steven C. Zola, chair of the Cottage Board of Directors. “This unprecedented gift will inspire groundbreaking new ideas and strategies to continue life-saving advances in research and the compassionate care Cottage is dedicated to delivering.” 

Mr. Compton recalls the roots of his philanthropy: “I grew up in rural Michigan and went to a one-room schoolhouse. I became a mechanic, and one day a retired farmer named Ann Dorr requested I come to her house. I thought she needed me to fix her lawn mower or tractor, but instead she said, ‘I’d like to loan you the money to go to the University of Michigan.’” 

That remarkable gesture of generosity – to recognize potential and enable it to grow – inspired new and future philanthropy that continues to build forward and change lives. “When people ask how we chose Cottage for this gift,” Mrs. Compton says, “The spark came from our friends – some are doctors and nurses – who work or have worked at Cottage. They are some of the brightest and best people you’ll ever meet. And we thought if Cottage recognizes the importance of having such quality people, it must be a forward-looking institution.” 

Mary and Richard Compton hope their donation inspires others to give, for the health of our entire community. “This gift is inspiring us to continue to be the best hospital for this community that we can be,” Werft said. 

If you are inspired to donate to Cottage, visit or call Andrew Brown, Vice President for Advancement, 805-569-7290.


You might also be interested in...