Entrepreneur and Adoption Advocate R. David "Dave"Thomas to Speak at UMass Medical School Commencement

April 21, 2000

WORCESTER, Mass. - On Sunday, June 4, R. David "Dave" Thomas, senior chairman of Wendy's International Inc. and nationally recognized adoption advocate, will give the commencement address to graduates of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). Students of the School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Graduate School of Nursing will receive degrees at the ceremony, which will be held at 1 p.m. at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Thomas will also receive an honorary degree during the ceremony.

Thomas heads one of the most successful businesses in the country as founder of Wendy's International, Inc., a chain of 5,000 restaurants located throughout the U.S. and in 34 countries. A sponsor of several local and national charitable organizations, Thomas is particularly committed to adoption issues. In 1990, he was named spokesperson for the White House Initiative "Adoption Works for Everyone" and, over the last decade, has become a national advocate for the cause. Thomas established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992, a not-for-profit organization focused on raising public awareness of adoption issues. He has also testified countless times before Congress in support of adoption-related topics and hosted a special adoption event with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton last year.

Thomas has been recognized by the restaurant industry for his countless achievements and has been awarded several entrepreneur and man of the year awards. He is also the recipient of honorary degrees from Duke, Baylor and Clemson universities.

In addition to Thomas, honorary degrees will be awarded to Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and Arpad Gogl, MD, PhD, Minister of Health for the Republic of Hungary. A long-time supporter of UMMS and its Cancer Center, Haynes brought his organization into a first-of-its-kind partnership between organized labor and a non-profit charitable institution with the announcement in 1998 of a goal to raise $5 million in five years to support the UMass Cancer Center's new research facility.

Dr. Gogl, an academic clinician, as well as the Health Minister of Hungary, has also partnered with UMMS to adapt the Medical School's emergency medicine curriculum as a template for similar emergency/disaster training programs within Hungary's hospitals and universities.

UMMS is one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, attracting more than $92 million in research funding annually. A perennial top ten finisher in the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of biomedical sciences, graduate school of nursing and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research, clinical care and public service. In 1998, the UMMS system of hospitals and clinics merged with Memorial Health Care to form UMass Memorial Health Care, the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.