Estate Gift of $1.267 Million Used to Create Dr. Joan Gennrich Endowed Medical School Scholarship at Viterbo University

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

March 26, 2024

Contact Josh Gates at 608-796-3077 or


LA CROSSE, Wis. – A $1.267 million gift from the estate of alumna Dr. Joan Gennrich has been used to create a scholarship for a female Viterbo University student who will attend medical school.

The Dr. Joan Gennrich ’60 Endowed Medical School Scholarship could provide up to $50,000 to recipients over the course of their senior year at Viterbo and four years of medical school. The scholarship will be awarded to one qualified student each year beginning in the fall of 2024.

“This is a tremendous gift, and we are sincerely grateful for the generosity of the late Dr. Gennrich in remembering her alma mater and her desire to help our students who will be the physicians of tomorrow,” said Viterbo University President Rick Trietley.

Dr. Gennrich designated the gift “in appreciation of excellent education I received at Viterbo University and to encourage female college students to pursue a medical degree and join a profession I loved and valued.”

Born in Milwaukee the oldest of six children to parents of modest means, Gennrich and her siblings fulfilled their father’s wish that all his children would earn a college degree. After graduating from Viterbo with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology in 1960, Gennrich accepted a position as a technician at a pediatric cardiac catheterization lab. A few years later, she became the head of the adult catheterization lab at Milwaukee County Hospital. 

A visiting German cardiologist recruited Gennrich to establish a similar lab at Waldkrankenhaus in Erlangen, Germany. While there, she discovered medical school in that country was very inexpensive. She was accepted contingent on passage of a German language exam. She graduated medical school in 1969. After an internship in Canada, she passed the Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates exam and the medical state board exams in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Gennrich worked as a physician in emergency medicine in Chicago for many years. After attending a medical conference and touring the first freestanding emergicenter (urgent care clinic) owned by a physician, Gennrich opened Wisconsin’s first such clinic. She would go on to open a second emergicenter three years later. Gennrich later sold her practice and retired. She passed away in February 2020 in St. Cloud, Florida.

Recipients of the Dr. Joan Gennrich ’60 Endowed Medical School Scholarship at Viterbo University will be chosen by a Viterbo University committee.