Benjamin connects memory and mentoring at Educational Recognition Awards

Leading educator delivers Last Lecture

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 15, 2013
Dr. Sheldon Benjamin shares a laugh after the lecture with one of his greatest mentors, his mother Edith Benjamin

Superlatives like “amazing,” “fantastic” and “rock star” were invoked throughout the  awarding of the 2013 Educational Recognition Awards. The annual awards recognize faculty singled out for excellence in teaching, research and service by the deans and students of the Graduate School of Nursing, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and School of Medicine (see the full slate of awardees below). In addition to faculty honors, the annual Patient as Teacher award was given to Kathy McGrath, who for the past ten years has shared her personal story in the Domestic Violence Interclerkship, a one-day course for third-year medical students. The awards were presented at a ceremony held at UMass Medical School on May 9.

Following the awards, Sheldon Benjamin, MD, delivered the Last Lecture called “On Mentorship and Memory.” The honor of presenting it was conferred upon Dr. Benjamin, professor of psychiatry and neurology and vice chair of education for the Department of Psychiatry, as the most recent recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. His lecture interspersed accounts of his own mentors with insights in to how the brain remembers, how memory serves us and why the memory of mentors are so powerful.

“It’s the emotional connection that imbeds a memory most firmly in your psyche. And memory can actually change our neurons—it’s been proven,” Benjamin summarized. “This means that a mentor can change your brain when you have the right mentoring experience. You can be 90 years old and still remember your mentor to get you through a tough situation.”

He closed by reflecting on his own experience as a teacher and mentor at UMMS, asking the psychiatry and neuropsychiatry students and residents in attendance to stand and thanking them, to thunderous applause, for “teaching me how to teach.”

2013 Educational Recognition Awards
  • Lamar Soutter Award: Robert Baldor, MD
  • Educational “Star” Award: Jeffrey Baxter, MD; Samir Malkani, MD; Patricia Ruze, MD; and Howard Sachs, MD
  • Patient-Teacher Award: Kathy McGrath
  • GSBS Dean”s Award: Arthur Mercurio, PhD; Neal Silverman, PhD; Raymond Welsh, PhD; and George Witman, PhD
  • GSBS Faculty Awards: Jon D. Goguen, PhD; Daryl Bosco, PhD; Jie Song, PhD; and Terry S. Field, DSc
  • GSN Dean”s Award: Jean E. Boucher, PhD, RN, ANP
  • GSN Distinguished Faculty Award: Jill Terrien, PhD, APRN-BC, ANP, ACNP; and Nancy S. Morris, PhD, ANP-BC

Related link on UMassMedNow:
In Convocation address, Chancellor Collins heralds a bright future, recognizes outstanding faculty

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