Chancellor Collins: You are not alone

June 03, 2012

Remarks by Chancellor Michael F. Collins at Commencement, June 3, 2012

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Today’s ceremony caps another outstanding year for our great campus. We continue to attract exceptional and dedicated students in larger numbers. We are committed to affirming our leadership position as we serve our nation’s growing and changing health care needs.

Our faculty and students demonstrate their brilliance, compassion and innovation by continuing to win numerous prizes, publish seminal works and attract research funding; this year in excess of $270 million.

At UMass Biologics, the only non-profit, FDA-approved manufacturer of vaccines in our country, our colleagues continue to develop, produce and license vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. This year, we were pleased to name a prominent new executive vice chancellor, Dr. Mark Klempner, who will join us next month.

At Commonwealth Medicine, our colleagues have maintained a pivotal role in health care reform and helped the commonwealth and federal government maximize resources to care for those most in need. We have new leadership here too, as Joyce A. Murphy has been named executive vice chancellor of this most important enterprise.

On our campus, the Albert Sherman Center (ASC), one of the largest construction projects on the East Coast, is nearing completion. Opening later this year, the ASC will house new campus and educational spaces, in addition to increased research space to accommodate our Advanced Therapeutics Cluster, as we increase our leadership role in biomedical and health sciences research.

Our state’s only public academic health sciences center is flourishing and increasing its renown, both here and around the world. We continue our vital mission to educate scientists and health care practitioners, care for those who are most in need, push to the forefront of innovation and scientific discovery, and serve communities that are close to home and across the globe.

Further, we maintain fidelity to our mission, this year ranked seventh in the nation as we continue to graduate great numbers of students who choose to pursue primary care.

Our graduates are our most important accomplishment. It has been a privilege for our faculty to have had the opportunity to educate and mentor you during your time on our campus and at our clinical affiliates. Please join me in recognizing those members of our faculty who are present today.

As health care reform continues to unfold, we are pleased that it is you to whom we entrust the future of science and health care.

As you begin your careers, and as you continue in them, we hope that you will be inspired by those we pay tribute to today:

Like Regina Benjamin, you may have the opportunity to care for one of the poor in your hometown or all the people of our great nation. You may build a clinic on the bayou or a vast public health infrastructure far beyond. You may be privileged to be your patient’s doctor in America or America’s doctor for underprivileged patients.

In each instance, understand that the hand that you hold or the heart that you touch needs your talent and wants your concern.

From the needy to those with means, from isolated clinics to all who are served by our nation’s Public Health Service, Regina Benjamin is their doctor. You could be, too!

Like Joe O’Donnell, a complex disease, as well as love for your patients and family members, could transform your lives. You may have the opportunity to discover the genetic defect that causes a disease or the therapy that provides a cure. Perhaps, directly you will raise millions of dollars to do so.

You may have to be insistent that research funding and initiative become paramount and the needs and hopes of patients become foremost in the hearts and minds of those who listen to your pleas.You may struggle to unlock the key to a cure while recognizing that the key to your efforts is a commitment you made to one you love.

In each instance, understand that the hand you hold or the heart you touch could be that of your son or grandchild.

Supporting those in need of hope, while keeping a promise, Joe O’Donnell has been the advocate of so many patients. You could be, too!

Like President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a nation may call upon you. You may have the opportunity to care for those in far off corners of our world or gather colleagues to join you in care for the disenfranchised and all who are most in need. You may offer peace to a patient, bring peace to a nation or celebrate peace in our world, each time helping those you comfort and serve to find peace in their hearts.

In each instance, understand that the hand you hold or the heart you touch may not know you or be able to thank you.

To those who have found freedom or empowerment that came with peace, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is their supporter. You could be too.

As you chart your futures, we shall watch with much anticipation for your many accomplishments. We hope that you will remain mindful that our communities, our commonwealth, our nation and our world need you.

We need your intellect and innovation.

We need your care and compassion.

We need your humility and humanity.

Most importantly, we need you to remember that while many days will not be easy, or many nights restful, you are not alone.

Touch the hands of your patients, join the hands of your colleagues, hold the hands of your mentors and you will not only bring comfort, you will find comfort.

Your hands will be directed and your hearts will be guided with integrity and surety. And we shall take great pride in you, recognizing you as one of our own.