Noted author, surgeon, educator Dr. Sherwin Nuland delivers address; Worcester’s Lois Green and Dr. Arnold Gurwitz receive honorary degrees

June 1, 2002

WORCESTER, Mass.—The University of Massachusetts Medical School, comprising the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Graduate School of Nursing, awarded 166 degrees, including three honorary degrees, at its thirtieth commencement exercises held today at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Chancellor Aaron Lazare, MD, presented 97 doctor of medicine degrees, including one MD/PhD; 23 doctor of philosophy degrees; and, in nursing, 29 master of science degrees, 8 post-master’s certificates and, in conjunction with UMass Amherst, 6 doctorate degrees. 

The commencement address was given by Sherwin B. Nuland, MD, surgeon, educator and best-selling author. Dr. Nuland is a Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and a Fellow of the university’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies. His book How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter won the National Book Award in 1994 and was a finalist in 1995 for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Book Critics Circle Award.

Nuland, a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, received his undergraduate degree from New York University and his medical degree in 1955 from Yale.  He taught and practiced at Yale-New Haven Hospital from 1962 through 1992. He now teaches and writes full-time; the focus of much of his recent work communicates his knowledge of medicine, biomedical ethics and medical history to the general public. Nuland’s new book, Lost in America: A Journey With My Father, is a personal memoir of his father and how their troubled relationship shaped his adult life long after his father’s death.

“We are pleased and honored to have an educator and clinician of Dr. Nuland’s stature share his thoughts with us at Commencement,” said UMMS Chancellor and Medical School Dean Aaron Lazare. “His body of work, particularly his focus on the relationship between the physician and patient, as well as his call for more compassionate care at the end of life, resonates deeply with our students and speaks to the core mission of our school.” Lazare noted that UMMS is one of only three medical schools in the country to participate in the Macy Initiative in Health Communication that aims to enhance the communication skills of physicians through systematic training of medical students and house officers. Furthermore, the Medical School’s work to improve end-of-life care in the region is recognized as a model for other institutions.

UMMS awarded honorary degrees to Dr. Nuland and to Lois Green, MPA, and Arnold Gurwitz, MD. Both Ms. Green and Dr. Gurwitz are longtime bastions of the Worcester community in the areas of medical care, public health and community service, and longtime friends and supporters of the Medical School and its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Healthcare.

Ms. Green currently serves as a consultant to boards of not-for-profit organizations, drawing on her own decades of membership on such boards, often as chair. Her affiliations have included the Worcester Age Center, Community Mental Health Center, Massachusetts Hospital Association, Mechanics Hall Association, National Council on Aging and the United Way of Central Massachusetts. Formerly employed as the executive director of Elder Home Care Services of Worcester Area, Inc., she currently serves on the boards of Bet Shalom Housing for the Elderly, Clark University and the Worcester Municipal Research Bureau. Ms. Green earned her Bachelor of Arts at Bryn Mawr College and her Master of Public Administration at Clark University.

Dr. Gurwitz, a native and lifelong resident of Worcester, began his medical career as a community pediatrician in 1965, and in 1969 was appointed commissioner of the Worcester Department of Public Health. He retired from this post last fall, after 33 years of service. Among his numerous contributions to the citizens of Worcester during this tenure was his able leadership during outbreaks of infectious disease, stressing education as one of the most effective preventive measures in public health. Dr. Gurwitz earned his bachelor’s and master of public health degrees at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, and his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine.

Class speakers were Matthew Bean of Chelmsford (Medical School); Ya-Lin Chiu of Shrewsbury (Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences); and Melinda Lise Marie Darrigo of Leominster (Graduate School of Nursing). For a listing of Degree recipients, contact Public Affairs.

Contact: Alison Duffy, 508-856-2000