Chancellor Michael F. Collins looked forward to the bright future at UMass Worcester in his Convocation address on Thursday, Sept. 13, saying that confidence is fitting given the outstanding students, gifted faculty and dedicated staff the institution attracts, as well as the economic impact of the campus on Central Massachusetts and the strong partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care.
“As we begin this new academic year, share this optimism,” said Chancellor Collins. “Yes, there is disruption and dissonance throughout our health care system and our nation. There is uncertainty about markets and politics. There is uneasiness and concern. But together, we have the opportunity to chart our future and the confidence to get it right.”
Collins also announced the 2012 recipients of the Chancellor’s Medals for distinguished teaching, scholarship, service and clinical excellence (new this year), and recognized members of the faculty who were promoted to full professor or received tenure during the past academic year.
Sheldon Benjamin, MD, professor of psychiatry and neurology, who received the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Teaching, was recognized by Collins as “an enthusiastic, gifted, outstanding, sought-after teacher who is viewed as a consummate and inspiring role model and mentor.”
Roger J. Davis, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, H. Arthur Smith Chair in Cancer Research and professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, received the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship. According to Collins, Dr. Davis was honored for his extraordinary contributions to the scientific body of knowledge, his influence across disciplines and the acclaim that such efforts bring to our institution.
Daniel H. Lasser, MD, MPH, chair and professor of family medicine & community health, received the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Service for being an exemplar of the profession through his steadfast commitment to the care of the underserved and underinsured and his resolve to collaborate and advocate on behalf of those in need.
The chancellor introduced a new award this year to recognize clinical excellence. The criteria for the award include a record of excellence in clinical practice during faculty affiliation with UMass Medical School and a sustained contribution to improvements in clinical care, as well as a history of serving as a role model for peers, residents and students in the provision of quality clinical care.
The inaugural recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Clinical Excellence was Oscar Starobin, MD, professor of medicine and a physician in the Worcester area since before the Medical School was established. Widely regarded as a clinical expert in adult congenital heart disease, Dr. Starobin was recognized for being ever attentive to the needs of his patients while simultaneously being mindul of the determination of students and residents to learn. “This is a fitting recognition for one who has worn the white coat with dignity while recognizing the privilege in doing so,” said Collins.
In addition to recognizing outstanding faculty, Collins remarked on the accomplishments of the strategic plan implemented in 2008, saying, “Our health care system made important strides in preparing for a redesigned health care system of the future. Our new curricula were created and implemented. Outstanding faculty in great numbers were recruited. New buildings were completed and constructed. Our nursing and medical schools were accredited. We obtained a CTSA award. We were fiscally sound. The reputation of our campus and university soared. Clearly, we delivered global impact. Collectively, we have created important advances in enhancing our mission.”
In preparing his Convocation address, the chancellor said that he was inspired by the words of students and the accomplishments of faculty. He concluded his address by saying, “Each of their stories was about the beginning and the end. They can inspire us to focus on our mission as we create our future. We help our students to realize their dreams. We mentor students and faculty as we maintain fidelity to our mission. Each and every day we touch the lives of so many. Together, we should have confidence in our future. We can deal with and adapt to disruption. We can bypass dissonance. We can differentiate and bring distinctiveness to our curricula, research, care and service. As we begin this academic year, let us come together to create our future. That would be a great beginning, with even a better end.”