UMass Medical School’s 2010 Investiture ceremony added a personal touch to an important donor-benefactor relationship, as donors or their representatives placed symbolic medallions over the heads of the six newest named professors—distinguished faculty whose research will be supported through endowments created by the donors. In turn, the faculty accepting the professorship publicly expressed their gratitude for being so honored.
When this year’s ceremonies wrapped up on the Campus Green shortly after the clock struck 5 p.m. on Wednesday, UMass Medical School boasted 32 named professorships. “So much of our success is rooted in the commitment of our faculty and the abounding generosity of our donors,” said University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson. “This ceremony recognizes the inspiring relationship between our medical school benefactors and the faculty whom they support.” Endowments are precious and essential resources for the institution, increasing the school’s ability to attract and retain individuals distinguished in their fields. Named professorships also provide an opportunity for donors to contribute to the enrichment of the academic and scientific environment.
2010 Investiture ceremony video
Each of the six invested faculty shared personal reflections upon accepting the ceremonial medallions. “Why am I so thankful for this gift?” asked Michael P. Czech, PhD, the Isadore and Fannie Foxman Chair in Medical Research. “It allows us to take up that hunch, to do science the way it needs to be done.” David M. Harlan, MD, the William and Doris Krupp Professorship in Medicine, reiterated education reformer Horace Mann’s directive to “be ashamed to die before you bring some victory to humanity. Mr. Krupp did that,” said Dr. Harlan. “Now it is our turn.”Invested yesterday were: Demetrius E. M. Litwin, MD, MBA, recipient of the Harry M. Haidak Professorship in Surgery. Dr. Litwin is chair of the Department of Surgery and is internationally recognized in the field of endoscopic, or minimally invasive, surgery. He continues to develop innovative procedures that improve patients’ well-being during and after surgery, work benefited by the endowment. Terence R. Flotte, MD, recipient of the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professorship in Medicine. Dean of the School of Medicine and provost and executive deputy chancellor of UMMS, Dr. Flotte is an internationally known pioneer in human gene therapy who is exploring treatments for devastating genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. The professorship recognizes his academic leadership as it supports his continuing scientific achievement. David M. Harlan, MD, recipient of the William and Doris Krupp Professorship in Medicine. Dr. Harlan recently joined UMMS as director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence. The professorship will help him build upon his extensive basic and clinical research into type 1 diabetes, conducted in his roles as diabetes division chief in the Department of Medicine and associate director of the UMMS Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center. Michael P. Czech, PhD, recipient of the Isadore and Fannie Foxman Chair in Medical Research. Dr. Czech is the founding chair of the Program in Molecular Medicine and an architect of the entire research enterprise at UMMS. As the Foxman Chair, recently endowed and bestowed for the first time this year, he will advance his groundbreaking discoveries related to diseases including cancer, diabetes and obesity. Guangping Gao, PhD, recipient of the Penelope Booth Rockwell Chair in Biomedical Research. Dr. Gao is the founding director of the UMMS Gene Therapy Center, where the chair will support his explorations into the promise of adeno-associated virus vectors for treating a wide range of genetic diseases. He collaborates on translational research here and abroad as scientific director of the UMMS-China Translational Research Initiative. Michael L. Blute, MD, recipient of the newly endowed Mary C. DeFeudis Chair in Cancer Care and Research. An internationally recognized figure in the treatment of urological cancers, Dr. Blute is director of the Cancer Center of Excellence and professor of surgery. The chair will support his continuing efforts to advance clinical science and realize improved patient outcomes. For benefactors such as those whose generosity created the six faculty chairs and professorships bestowed yesterday, philanthropy is about more than just money. It is about caring, compassion and connection. Family ties, spiritual beliefs, past history and future goals, relationships with an academic institution and its faculty, love of community, personal experiences with illness and disease, the desire to give back—all these and more inspire donors to share their financial resources with academic institutions. In addition to recognizing the distinguished faculty members who have been chosen for named professorships, Investiture is a celebration of the benefactors who made the honors possible, such as Mary DeFeudis, and Norton and Carol Foxman, who participated in yesterday’s ceremonies as they invested the two new chairs they have funded. (Read more about donors here.) The relationships between benefactors and the institutions they support are often unique. “Our first question is always, ‘What is it that you care deeply about?’” explained Margaret Lansing, gift officer for the UMass Medical School/UMass Memorial Development Office. Through the careful and responsible stewardship of donors’ generous gifts—upward of $1 million in the case of named professorships and chairs—the office partners with donors to meet their goals as they facilitate advancements in medical research, patient care and the education of tomorrow’s medical professionals. To learn more, visit www.umassmed.edu/foundation.