Commencement marks 40th graduating ceremony

James Dalen, Susan Hockfield to receive honorary degrees

By Kristen O’Reilly

UMass Medical School Communications

May 14, 2013
ames Eugene Dalen, MD, MPH (left), former chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and interim chancellor, and Susan Hockfield, PhD, former president of MIT, are this year's honorary degree recipients at the 40th annual Commencement.
James Eugene Dalen, MD, MPH (left), former chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and interim chancellor, and Susan Hockfield, PhD, former president of MIT, are this year's honorary degree recipients at the 40th annual Commencement.

UMass Worcester’s 40th Commencement ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 2, at noon under a giant tent on the Campus Green. The newly opened Albert Sherman Center will play an important role in the day’s activities, hosting the pre-Commencement brunch and serving as a staging area for participants.

Honorary degrees will be awarded to cardiologist James Eugene Dalen, MD, MPH, dean emeritus and professor emeritus of the University of Arizona College of Medicine and executive director of The Weil Foundation, for his pivotal role in the early history of UMass Worcester, and to former MIT President Susan Hockfield, PhD, for her distinguished scientific career and her exceptional leadership skills.

The School of Medicine will confer 118 MDs, with about 50 percent going on to graduate who will be heading into primary care residencies. Additionally, five students will receive MD/PhDs. Thirty-two PhDs and one master’s degree will be awarded to graduates of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The Graduate School of Nursing will award 49 master’s degrees, two post-master’s certificates, two doctor of nursing practice degrees and one PhD.

James Eugene Dalen, MD, PhD

In 1975, Dr. Dalen was named chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at UMass Worcester and went on to lead the Department of Medicine after it was combined with the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine. He served as interim chancellor of UMass Worcester from 1986 to 1987. His leadership in recruiting distinguished faculty, and advancing internal, family, cardiothoracic and vascular medicine, are credited with helping to change the perception that patients needed to travel to Boston to get the best treatment for the most serious conditions.

A graduate of Washington State University and the University of Michigan, where he received a master’s degree in psychology, Dalen received his MD at the University of Washington. From 1967 to 1975, he was an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a cardiologist at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital). During that time, Dalen made seminal strides in the diagnosis and understanding of pulmonary thromboembolism, pulmonary hypertension and rheumatic valvular disease.

Dalen became dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1988 and vice president for health sciences in 1995. He held both positions until 2001. During his tenure, the university established its College of Public Health, the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and the Arizona Telemedicine Program, among many other important programs.

Susan Hockfield, PhD

In the first year of her presidency, Dr. Hockfield inaugurated the MIT Energy Initiative, a massive research and education program to address one of the world's most pressing needs. Long an advocate for the research university as an engine of innovation and economic growth, Hockfield also worked to shape emerging national policy on energy technology and next-generation manufacturing. In June 2011, President Obama asked her to co-chair the steering committee of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

A graduate of the University of Rochester who earned her PhD from Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, Hockfield was a National Institutes of Health Fellow and a scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York before joining the faculty of Yale University in 1985. There, she carried out research on the development of the brain and glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer, and pioneered the use of monoclonal antibody technology in brain research. She was named the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Neurobiology and served first as dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and then as provost.

From 2004 to 2012, Hockfield served as the16th president of MIT, where she continues to hold a faculty appointment as professor of neuroscience. As the first life scientist to lead MIT, she championed breakthroughs emerging from the historic convergence of the life sciences with engineering and physical sciences, in fields from clean energy to cancer, including the work of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Student speakers

Each of the schools of UMass Worcester will be represented by a student speaker. Michael Epstein will represent the School of Medicine, Nicole Peace will represent the Graduate School of Nursing, and Jeannette Osterloh will represent the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

For more information, visit the Commencement information website.