June 1, 2008

WORCESTER, Mass.—The University of Massachusetts Worcester today awarded 220 degrees, including three honorary degrees, at its 35th commencement exercises held at Mechanics Hall. Graduates of the three schools that make up UMass Worcester—the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Graduate School of Nursing—were encouraged to remain life-long students by keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The state of mind of the perpetual student is invigorating and serves as the catalyst to continually improve, meet challenges and fulfill one’s enormous potential, he said.  

As director of the NIAID, Dr. Fauci oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. Under his leadership, NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. Dr. Fauci serves as one of the key advisors to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues and on initiatives to bolster medical and public health preparedness against emerging infectious disease threats such as pandemic influenza.

University of Massachusetts Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences and Medical School Chancellor ad interim Michael F. Collins presided over the commencement ceremonies. Dr. Collins presented 104 doctor of medicine degrees, including five MD/PhD; 48 doctor of philosophy degrees; and, in nursing, 60 master of science degrees, two post-master’s certificates and three doctor of philosophy degrees.

UMass Worcester also presented honorary degrees to the Honorable Margaret H. Marshall, JD, and Leonard J. Morse, MD. Hon. Marshall is the first woman to serve as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and she has displayed extraordinary leadership and public service throughout her career. Born and raised in South Africa, Chief Justice Marshall received her BA in 1966 from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. As an undergraduate, she served as president of the National Union of South African Students, at the time a leading anti-apartheid organization.  She came to the United States to pursue her master’s degree at Harvard University, and was unable to return to South Africa because of her activities opposing apartheid. She completed her JD at Yale Law School in 1976 and received her United States citizenship in 1978.

First appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1996, Marshall was named chief justice nearly three years later by Governor A. Paul Cellucci, and she began her term on October 14, 1999, following her confirmation by the Governor's Council. Marshall is the second woman to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court in its 300-year history. Involved in numerous professional and community activities, Marshall has served as a member of the Board of the Conference of Chief Justices. Prior to appointment to the Supreme Judicial Court, Marshall served as president of the Boston Bar Association and was a member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, both in Massachusetts and nationally. She was a trustee of The Africa Fund and a member of the board of Africa News, and she currently serves as a trustee of Southern Africa Legal Services Foundation.

An esteemed professional, highly regarded for his medical skills and compassionate manner, Leonard J. Morse, MD, is a life-long resident of Central Massachusetts and currently serves as the City of Worcester’s Commissioner of Public Health. He held a private practice in Worcester for 40 years, then focused his attention on the needs of the inner city by serving as medical director of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center. Convinced that through organized medicine he could influence the welfare of both patients and physicians, he became a recognized leader in organized medicine. He served as president of both the Worcester District Medical Society and the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), as chair of the American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs and the MMS Committee on Ethics and Discipline, and authored more than 200 publications, editorials and essays.

Dr. Morse is widely known as a successful practitioner beloved by his patients, an accomplished epidemiologist, and a respected teacher and mentor. Throughout his distinguished career, the needs of his patients always came first. In his own words, his primary professional concern was “caring for patients in a relationship of trust that hopefully found both patient and doctor growing older together in good health.”


UMass Worcester was created in l962 by an act of the Massachusetts legislature to enable state residents to study medicine at an affordable cost, and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state. The School of Medicine accepted its first class of 16 students in 1970 and now accepts 100 students per class. Today, the 67-acre campus is one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts system and encompasses the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Graduate School of Nursing, a thriving research enterprise and an innovative public service initiative called Commonwealth Medicine. UMass Worcester is one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country and has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $179 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit



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