The History of the Herman Knapp Testimonial Fund

In 1910, the American Medical Association Section Council on Ophthalmology proposed establishment of the Herman Knapp Testimonial Fund (hereafter referred to as The Fund). In 1912 The Fund was established as proposed by Drs. Albert Bulson of Fort Wayne, Indiana and, William Posey of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The stated purposes were to provide prizes and medals; and underwrite expenses of the Section, the exhibits, and guests. The five member committee, consisting of the Chairman and Secretary of the Section Council and members of the Executive Committee comprised the administrative membership of The Fund. A Knapp medal of 22 carat gold was struck to honor Dr. Herman Knapp, a leader in American ophthalmology, in whose name The Fund had been established. The Fund also provided monies to support the publication of the Ophthalmology Year Book edited by Dr. Edward Jackson of Denver.

In 1912, The Fund was established by voluntary contributions ranging from $1 to $25 from members of the Section Council. Following payment of expenses, there was a balance of $400 in The Fund. In 1951, the balance was $41,000 and an additional gift of $35,000 was received from the Kresge Foundation. Over 85 years, The Fund had grown from this modest sum of $400.00 to a total portfolio balance of $3,869,550.40 as of June 30, 1997. Investments were held in a brokerage account at Wachovia Investment, Inc. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The account was managed by Cornerstone Capital of Atlanta, Georgia. The tax returns and audits were provided by Thomas, Knight, Trent, King and Company of Durham, North Carolina.

The original documents regarding the establishment of The Fund apparently had been lost. A reorganization document dated 1957 which was co-authored by Drs. Francis Adler and Parker Heath defined the organization, governance and purposes of The Fund. This document provided for a three member administrative committee with one of the members serving as secretary.

The Fund provided support for the AMA Section Council on Ophthalmology through 1978. Prior to 1978, the AMA Section on Ophthalmology was autonomous, elected officers and organized its own scientific program. In 1978, the Section was disbanded and replaced with a new Section Council which had representative membership from organizations based on the number of American Medical Association members in these respective organizations. With this loss of autonomy, membership and attendance declined.

After 1978, the Fund provided support for the Ophthalmology Section Council, the Joint Meeting of the American Medical Association held during the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting and a post graduate fellowship training program. The fellowships were administered by the Heed Foundation and were known as Heed-Knapp Fellowships which provided stipends for a second year of post graduate training. From 1982 through 1997, The Fund provided $1,424,000.00 in support of this program.

In May of 1997, Dr. Joseph Wadsworth, Secretary of the Administrative Committee of The Fund, died. The remaining two members of the Administrative Committee, Dr. Dupont Guerry of Richmond, Virginia and Dr. William Hughes of Lincolnshire, Illinois, decided to place responsibility for operation of The Fund with the American Ophthalmological Society.

The following is a description of the legal status of the Fund:

The Herman Knapp Testimonial Fund was established as an unincorporated association in 1912 and in 1973 received classification as a charitable organization by the Internal Revenue Service as an organization described in 501 (c) (3) of the IRS code and identified as an organization described in Section 509 (a) (3) of the code. Because The Fund was an unincorporated association, it could only function as a charitable organization when operated solely for the benefit of and in connection with one of the organizations designated by the Internal Revenue Service. The American Ophthalmological Society, by virtue of its classification by the Internal Revenue Service as an organization described in Section 170 (c) (2) and 501 (c) (3) has the necessary status to become the supported organization of The Fund. The amended and restated governing instruments of The Fund state that "The Fund is organized and shall be operated exclusively to support, benefit, perform, and assist in carrying out the charitable, educational, and scientific purposes and functions of the American Ophthalmological Society".

The American Ophthalmological Society elected to accept The Fund as a supporting organization of the AOS on October 4, 1997. The AOS has the responsibility of establishing/maintaining guidelines for operation of The Fund, appointing trustees, approving amendments of the governing instruments and reviewing and monitoring The Fund’s activities.

Herman Knapp Testimonial Fund Bylaws - [Download Bylaws Document]

Document date: September 9, 2009

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