At the 2010 Convocation Ceremony that officially opened the academic year on Thursday, Sept. 16, Chancellor Michael F. Collins recognized outstanding faculty, noted the many recent and upcoming reasons to celebrate the institution and challenged the UMass Medical School community to take a leadership role in health care reform initiatives.
Chancellor Collins presented the first Chancellor’s Awards in service, teaching and research as a follow-up to last year’s pledge to better recognize the significant contributions of the Medical School’s faculty. Each awardee received a medallion, a cash prize and a specific honor related to the award.
Susan Gagliardi, PhD, professor of cell biology and neurology, who received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, is “a visionary teacher who has consistently received recognition from both students and peers for achievements in education,” according to Collins. As the recipient of this award, Dr. Gagliardi will present a campus-wide “Last Lecture,” a celebration of education that recognizes the importance of teaching.
Michael P. Czech, PhD, the Isadore and Fannie Foxman Chair in Medical Research and chair and professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Research because he has “brought worldwide acclaim to our university, through his own research as well as through the work of those he has recruited to our campus,” said Collins. Dr. Czech will give the keynote lecture at this year’s annual Research Retreat.
John L. Sullivan, MD, vice provost for research and professor of pediatrics and molecular medicine, received the Chancellor’s Award for Service and will carry the UMass Worcester mace at formal functions, including Commencement. “As the standard bearer for our faculty, this position of prominence is well deserved for someone who has given such outstanding service to our university throughout a career,” said Collins.
Besides recognizing outstanding faculty, Chancellor Collins introduced the concept of the “science of health care reform,” which requires “comparative effectiveness studies that we are most adept at performing.”
“The science of health care reform would build upon our commitment to clinical and translational science efforts and would focus on quality and safety, comparative effectiveness, and patient and community engagement,” Collins said. “Such a commitment would require everyone at our academic health sciences center to participate in transforming our health care system. In the science of health care reform, everyone matters.”
During his address, Collins told a poignant story of how, in the midst of a busy day and rushing off to a meeting, he passed an elderly couple having difficulty getting out of their car and into UMass Memorial Medical Center for an appointment. He considered rushing by without helping, mindful that he was late, but ended up stopping to help the grateful couple on their way.
“The purpose of the story is to ask you not to walk by,” he said. “Our health care system needs you. It needs each of us, working together to make a difference in the lives of patients around the world.”
The chancellor also outlined exciting new and planned projects, including the opening of the Ambulatory Care Center, the integrated Teaching and Learning Center and a new child care center, as well as the ongoing construction of the Albert Sherman Center. He also urged the UMass Worcester community to make a difference.
“Be inspired by Sue Gagliardi and become a better teacher—perhaps someday becoming the best. Be inspired by Mike Czech—give your all every day and perhaps you may cure a disease or recruit someone here who will,” Collins said in his closing remarks. “Be inspired by Sully. It must be wonderful to go to bed each night knowing you have had a positive impact on the lives of millions. Be inspired. And be inspiring.”