Convocation Week to commemorate beginnings

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

September 04, 2012
Chancellor Michael F. Collins (left) speaks at the 2011 Convocation ceremonies.

While Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer, it also heralds the beginning of a new academic year and all the promise that it holds. To launch the new year and to welcome new members to the UMass Medical School community, a post Labor Day celebration will span the week of Sept. 11 through 15. During  Convocation Week, future nurses will be pinned, future physicians will don white coats and future researchers will meet their mentors. Medals will be bestowed, faculty will be invested and donors will be thanked. The goal of these celebrations is to strengthen the sense of community at UMMS and set the stage for the coming year.

All three schools will be hosting celebrations designed to welcome new students to their professional communities. The Graduate School of Nursing will hold a pinning ceremony on Tuesday, Sept 11, for students of the Graduate Entry Pathway program who have recently reached the academic and career milestone of passing their licensing exams that allow them to begin working as registered nurses. The celebration will mark their formal entry into the nursing profession. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will host an informal welcome reception where new students have an opportunity to meet and mingle with fellow students and faculty members. And on Friday, Sept. 14, the School of Medicine will hold a White Coat Ceremony, where first-year students are presented with the symbolic mantle of their newly chosen profession, the white coat, by their faculty mentors. JudyAnn Bigby, MD, secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will be the keynote speaker.

The centerpiece of the week, Convocation, will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. Sept. 13 under a tent on the Campus Green. The event will feature a welcome from Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medicine, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, and a keynote address by Chancellor Michael F. Collins. Chancellor Collins will also present four Chancellor’s Medals for distinguished teaching, scholarship, service and, new this year, clinical excellence.

Investiture will take place immediately following the Convocation address. Allan Jacobson, PhD, chair and professor of microbiology & physiological systems, will be invested as the Gerald L. Haidak, MD, and Zelda S. Haidak Professor of Cell Biology, and Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, chair and professor of neurology, will be invested as the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research. The generous donors who made these named professorships possible will also be recognized for their essential support of UMMS and its mission.

The week of celebrations will be capped by a symposium on Saturday, Sept. 15, addressing the timely topic of if and how brain trauma contributes to neurodegeneration. Sponsored by the NeuroTherapeutics Institute, “From Brain Trauma to Neurodegeneration” will be led by Dr. Brown and will highlight the major themes in the pathology and molecular biology of brain trauma and hypotheses about how such injuries cause delayed, progressive loss of neurological function. Guests include Christopher Nowinski, former Harvard football player and WWE wrestler, who will discuss his personal experience with brain trauma; Ann McKee, MD, and Lee Goldstein, MD, faculty from Boston University School of Medicine, who will discuss their research on the pathology of brain trauma and experimental CTE, respectively; and Jean King, PhD, professor of psychiatry, and Nils Henninger, MD, assistant professor of neurology, who will discuss modeling mild head trauma and translating human brain trauma to animal models, respectively. The symposium will conclude with a question and answer session and discussion.

For additional information about Convocation Week events or to RSVP to specific events, visit the Convocation Events website.

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Mark your calendar for Convocation week events