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Educational Recognition Awards and Last Lecture celebrate faculty excellence at UMass Chan

Pan-Yeng Fan shares love of teaching in Last Lecture ‘You’ll always have a job . . . ’

By Sandra Gray

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

April 27, 2022

The 2022 UMass Chan Medical School Educational Recognition Awards celebration was held on Tuesday, April 26, to honor achievement by faculty of the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and T.H. Chan School of Medicine. Vivian Budnik, PhD, was named recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, and Pang-Yen Fan, MD, delivered the honorary Last Lecture.

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Vivian Budnik, PhD, accepts the Chancellor’s Award
for Excellence in Mentoring from Chancellor Michael F. Collins.

“The faculty of our three graduate schools are exceptional stewards of our students’ education, and those colleagues receiving awards this afternoon are the standard bearers of excellence and exemplify the roles of teacher and mentor,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “To our awardees, congratulations on your well-deserved recognition and thank you for contributing so much to our outstanding learning environment.”

Chancellor Collins presented the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring to Dr. Budnik, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair and chair and professor of neurobiology, who was lauded by colleagues, collaborators and students for her skillful and dedicated mentorship.

Since being named chair of the department in 2015, Budnik has led a multidisciplinary research hub of scientists combining cell biological, physiological and behavioral analyses to understand the complexity of brain development and function and address fundamental problems in neurobiology. Junior faculty in the department credit her with helping nearly all of them receive R01 funding from the National Institutes of Health on their first submission.

“You are universally held in the highest esteem by your colleagues and collaborators and are recognized as a ‘quintessential mentor,’” said Collins. “Supporting and guiding others, they say, is ‘at the core’ of your ‘leadership style and success.’ Colleague after colleague after colleague made special mention of your ‘insightful advice’ that helped them to learn how to run their lab, ‘push scientific boundaries’ and write their first NIH grants. For this, your grateful colleagues have dubbed you ‘the grant whisperer’ and say, ‘Vivian provides the magic sauce.’”

Collins further noted that Budnik has been one of the most visible and effective campus leaders in empowering women and underrepresented minorities in the basic sciences. In 2015, she became a fellow of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women at the Drexel University College of Medicine. Budnik’s ELAM Institutional Action Project focused on formalizing a sustainable mentoring program in her department to foster a scientific environment where, in addition to excellence in science, the goal is also to create the synergism, mentoring and support a diverse workforce requires for success.

Prior to the announcement of the mentoring award, deans’ and faculty awards were presented by Joan Vitello, PhD, the Donna M. and Robert J. Manning Chair in Nursing, professor of nursing and dean of the Tan Graduate School of Nursing; David Weaver, PhD, professor of neurobiology; Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine; and Educational Policy Committee co-chairs Erin McMaster, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, and Patricia Seymour, MD, associate professor of family medicine & community health.

New this year was the Educational Service Award recognizing the faculty member or members whose committed service has positively impacted the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences learning environment. Brian Lewis, PhD, the George F. Booth Chair in the Basic Sciences and professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology, received the award.

The premise of the Last Lecture is to deliver the message that an educator would want to give students if they had only one lecture left to give. The honor of delivering it is bestowed on the winner of the prior year’s Chancellor’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching, which Dr. Fan, professor of medicine in the Division of Renal Medicine, accepted at Convocation proceedings in September 2021. Fan is also the recipient of the 2022 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which honors one outstanding faculty member from each of the five UMass campuses.

He recalled his father, an electrical engineer, advising all his children to become doctors. “‘You get to be a scientist and heal people at the same time,’ he’d say. ‘Everyone will respect you,’ he’d say,’” said Fan. “And the kicker, ‘You'll always have a job!’”

Now a nephrologist serving as medical director for the renal transplant program at UMass Memorial Medical Center, Fan credits former Distinguished Medal for Excellence in Teaching and Last Lecturer David Clive, MD, professor emeritus of medicine, as one of his own mentors. He never thought he’d be an educator, but Fan discovered his love for teaching early in his career as a new clinician who, while shy, loved answering questions and explaining things to patients.

“I really enjoyed the process of figuring the best way to help people understand their conditions, tests and treatments,” said Fan. “It was incredibly rewarding to me to find the right words and relevant analogies to help them grasp what was happening.”

Years later as a longtime, beloved faculty member at UMass Chan, he enthusiastically signed on in 2010 as an inaugural Learning Community mentor for medical students, calling it “one of the most satisfying roles that I have in medical education.”

His care for each trainee imbued every anecdote he shared, including the one about losing an outstanding nephrology fellow when she realized she would rather be a cardiologist and he helped her transfer out of his program.

Fan reflected on how teaching medicine has changed, in some respects for the better, during the pandemic. “While trends toward remote learning were already well established, COVID accelerated development of virtual teaching techniques,” he said. “Remote educational platforms enable us to reach many more learners, both in real-time as well as asynchronously, and allow us more flexibility in recruiting outstanding teachers.”

“Reflecting on my time at UMass, I can’t help but note that I have actually followed my father’s footsteps. He was a professor for 46 years, serving as department chair for more than three decades,” Fan said in closing. “He certainly guided me to a career that I love and for that I will always be grateful.”

Watch the full awards ceremony and Last Lecture on the UMass Chan Medical School YouTube channel.

The 2022 Educational Recognition Award winners are:

Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing

Dean’s Award
Susan Sullivan-Bolyai, DNSc, CNS, RN, FAAN

Distinguished Faculty Awards
Elizabeth Keating, MS, APRN,NP-C
Alexander Menard, DNP, AGACNP-BC
Nancy Morris, PhD, RN, ANP-BC

Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Dean’s Award
Daryl Bosco, PhD

Faculty Awards
Anthony Imbalzano, PhD
Vanni Bucci, PhD
Phillip Tai, PhD
Lisa Lojek, PhD
Jeroan Allison, MD, MS
Brian Lewis, PhD

T.H. Chan School of Medicine

Lamar Soutter Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Medical Education
Howard Sachs, MD

Educational Achievement (Star) Awards
The iCELS Team (accepted on behalf of the team by Sylvia Stanhope and Jorge Yarzebski)
Lisa Hall, PhD
The Anatomy Team (Lela Giannaris, PhD; Amanda Collins, MPH; Yasmin Carter, PhD; Chris Cerniglia, DO, MEng)

Resident/Fellow Award for Excellence in Medical Student Education
Gianna Lusiye Wilkie, MD
Neil Devoe, DO

Patient as Teacher Award
Sterling and Jessica Cross

Student Star Award
Lindsay Walsh
Jillian Belgrad

Administrative Staff Award
Victoria Cohen, MPP

Related UMass Chan news stories:
Convocation 2021: Chancellor Collins outlines vision for new era at UMass Chan
UMass, University of Utah discover new form of cellular communication in nervous system: Vivian Budnik, Travis Thomson at UMMS explain significance of discovery in Cell