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UMass Chan Medical School community celebrates ‘momentous occasion’ in Worcester

Gerald Chan, representing The Morningside Foundation, delivers heartfelt remarks on historic gift

  • UMass President Martin T. Meehan welcomes the Medical School community to the campus celebration.
  • Guangping Gao, PhD, and Zhiping Weng, PhD, applaud the announcement of the gift.
  • Chancellor Collins welcomes Gerald Chan to the podium.
  • Gerald Chan speaks to the UMass Chan Medical School community.
  • Chancellor Michael F. Collins and President Meehan listen to remarks from Gerald Chan.
  • Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito thanks The Morningside Foundation for its support of the Medical School.
  • Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing Dean Joan Vitello describes the excitement of the faculty at word of the gift.
  • Chancellor Collins and Gerald Chan
  • From left, Gerald Chan, his wife, Beryl, Maryellen Collins and Chancellor Collins, following the campus announcement
  • The leadership of The Morningside Foundation with Chancellor and Mrs. Collins

The UMass Chan Medical School community celebrated the announcement of a transformational $175 million gift from The Morningside Foundation on Tuesday, Sept. 7, with hundreds of faculty, staff and students gathering on the Worcester campus for an afternoon event marking the historic donation.

“Thank you very much for coming to help us celebrate this momentous occasion,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “It’s the privilege of a lifetime to serve as chancellor of the UMass Chan Medical School.”

Gerald Chan, representing The Morningside Foundation, spoke from his heart as he explained what it meant to have the Medical School and its three graduate schools bear his family’s name: the T.H. Chan School of Medicine for his late father; the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing for his mother, who is 101 and a retired nurse; and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, named for the  family’s investment group and foundation.

“The gift today has its roots in the life of giving that my parents lived,” he said, recalling that when the elevator repair man in his father’s building needed a blood transfusion, his father gave his own blood. “My father’s giving taught me that financial giving is but a surrogate that affirms a common humanity.”

Following a special meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees to create an endowment fund to hold the donation and a press conference at the UMass Club in Boston to announce the gift, the Worcester celebration provided Chancellor Collins an opportunity to thank the campus for their achievements and to thank Chan and his family for their generosity. It was held in the Faculty Conference Room, decorated with blue and white balloons and banners. The mood was ebullient as attendees were given totes, water bottles, pens, lanyards, notebooks and baseball caps all with the new UMass Chan identity.

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan; Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito; Provost and Dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine Terence R. Flotte; Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean Mary Ellen Lane; and Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing Dean Joan Vitello also made brief remarks, expressing their gratitude and anticipation of great things to come.

“We are deeply indebted to The Morningside Foundation and to the T.H. Chan family in naming our school after your beloved mother,” said Dean Vitello. “The true beneficiaries will be the patients and their loved ones in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond.”

“When the Chan family invests, they invest in institutions whose members are literally going to transform people’s lives, and that’s what you do,” said President Meehan, noting that this is one of the largest gifts ever given to a public medical school.

Faculty and students said they were pleasantly surprised to wake up to the news.

“This is going to make an amazing difference at a time when we’ve already progressed so far,” said Susan Gagliardi, PhD, professor of neurology. “Now we’re turbocharged. The possibilities are endless!”

“I was happy when I read the news, because it’s a large amount of money,” said Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student Crystal Cao. “This will be a huge benefit to the school and the research enterprise.”

Jacob Wood, SOM ’24, said, “I’m not sure how it will affect me personally but I’m excited to see what’s to come.”

“I’m glad to hear it will support public health,” added classmate Christian Keenan, SOM ’24. “With COVID we’ve learned that public health is more important than ever.”

Still under development, plans for the Chan endowment include recruiting additional renowned and innovative faculty; conducting more breakthrough biomedical research; offering financial support to highly qualified and diverse students from across the country; and being ever more expansive in fulfilling the school’s public service mission.

The announcement at the UMass Club and the campus celebration can be viewed online on the UMass Chan Facebook page and YouTube page.

Related story on UMassMed News:
University of Massachusetts announces $175 million transformational gift to its Medical School