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The University of Massachusetts Medical School: Here for a Reason!

Convocation Speech, full text

By Chancellor Michael F. Collins

UMass Medical School Communications

9/18/2014 6:00:00 PM

The University of Massachusetts Medical School: Here for a Reason!


As we began this academic year, a time for new beginnings, two things happened to me that had never occurred before. In fact, if you were to ask most people who know me if these things could or would occur, they would assure you that it was not possible; and if you insisted that they had occurred, they would assume that you had the wrong person. “No way would he ever do that!”

Well, I did them!

One was covered and seen all over the world: four first-year medical students, surrounded by their classmates, dropped a bucket of ice-filled water over my head. I stood with our esteemed colleague, Bob Brown, bedecked in our white coats and ties as the Ice Bucket Challenge came down upon us. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Momentarily stunning as it may be, this chilling inconvenience paled in comparison to the discomforts and challenges faced each and every day by a person living with ALS. In the smallest of gestures, we were responding to a challenge to raise awareness of ALS and as we did, we asked others to assist us increase funding so that ALS research efforts could advance.

We received calls, emails, letters and donations from all over the world. We made it on the network newscasts and into the national print media. The students who dumped the bucket on me had a first-day-of-school thrill they never would have expected. We challenged others to give and they have.

Who could have expected it?

About a week later, while attending my nephew’s wedding in Costa Rica, I took the next great and unexpected leap: zip-lining. Off the cliff I went, time after time, surrounded by our family who stood there in amazement. “I can’t believe he did it!” they exclaimed!

When I went soaring off in the superman position, Maryellen and the kids were certain that I had completely lost it!! I trusted the guys who were assisting me with my leaps. Despite how unusual and unexpected the next seconds might be, I had confidence that all would be well. In the end, it was thrilling and I had a terrific sense of accomplishment.

Now, since most of you have come to know me over the last eight years, you must be wondering if I am all right. I can assure you that I am.

But, I thought that these two experiences might be apt metaphors for this year’s Convocation address.

As we began this academic year, no one could have predicted that dumping a bucket of ice and water on one’s head would become a rage. No one could have expected how people could come together to support research on a disease that presents the most daunting of challenges to those it affects. No one could have foreseen that the amount raised through this effort, a social media craze, now nearly exceeds the amount of funding that the NIH expends on ALS research in two years. No one, least of all me, could have expected that I would take a zip-lining leap of faith and yet, upon completion, have such a sense of satisfaction and success.

Well, that’s where I find our academic health sciences center as we face our new academic year.

In the labs and clinics that exist throughout our medical school and its affiliates, we are studying the diseases and caring for the sickest of patients and we do so with constrained dollars. We have come to the point that we are looking everywhere we can to find resources so that we can advance our mission areas; and we do so at a pace that will allow us to change the course of history of disease in our lifetimes. At times, we don’t know from where the next dollar will come and as yet, we cannot fully realize how the powers of connectedness that exist through new modes of communication and technology could radically disrupt the science, care and modes of funding we have come to know.

As we start this academic year, I ask that you take a leap of faith with me. Take a leap that together, if we remain steadfast in our efforts; prepared in our areas of responsibility; supported by those who believe in us; and determined in our resolve; moments of exhilaration and success will come to us and our patients. Believe with me that we are here for a reason!


Good afternoon and welcome to this year’s Convocation activities. It remains a wonderful privilege to have the opportunity to stand before you and offer greetings as we begin our new academic year. I want to welcome those who have been so generous to our institution as well as the leadership and colleagues of our academic health sciences center partner, UMass Memorial Health Care.

We start our new academic year on the heels of a fiscal year that brought us significant challenge. Yet, we continue to attract outstanding learners to our three schools and residency training programs. Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with many of our first-year medical students. We should be encouraged by their enthusiasm, altruism, commitment and passion.  

We continue to celebrate the great gift that is our faculty. Our staff throughout the institution leads by their example and has redoubled its commitment in furtherance of our mission. Our campus community is an important component of a great university where collaboration has become the standard. We are centered in a community that respects what we do and supports us in our efforts to chart a bright future.

We should take great pride in the accomplishments of those who graduated last spring. Our alumni are making an enormous difference throughout the commonwealth, the nation and the world.

The university has had another terrific year. The legislature and administration have responded to the leadership of our president and have continued to increase their investment in the university. Further, we have just completed a Life Sciences Strategic Planning effort across the university. This blueprint for action will serve us well as we further our efforts to collaborate within the university and take the important next steps to partner with others as we foster a life sciences ecosystem that impacts the economic well-being of our region.

An invigorated collegial spirit continues throughout Commonwealth Medicine and MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Recently, we have taken responsibility for the operations of the Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing in Fall River, which will now be known and operated as MassBiologics Southcoast.

Together, we care for and about those greatest in need of that caring, all the while fostering scientific inquiry at the leading edge.

We are the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Passionate. Proud. Principled.

Faculty Recognition

As we begin this academic year, I would like to celebrate the many accomplishments of our faculty. This university is privileged to have in its midst a dedicated and committed faculty. The heart and mind of a great university lay within its faculty. Our students are the beneficiaries of their intellect and wisdom. The broader world sees great benefits from their scholarly works and innovative discoveries. On our campus, collegiality and collaboration abound. For our world, the good works of our faculty are without boundary.

Over this past year, we have had the good fortune to recruit 196 outstanding faculty to our campus community. The academic and clinical accomplishments that our new faculty bring to our campus will serve us well into the future. It is a delight to welcome all who are new to our faculty.

Faculty Tenured in Academic Year 2013-2014

I am especially pleased to recognize those on our faculty who have been our colleagues and who, this academic year, have received confirmation from our university that we wish them to spend their academic careers with us.

When our university awards tenure to a faculty member, it chooses to establish a life-long academic relationship with that committed scholar. The rigorous tenure decisions, reached after much scrutiny and a most thorough process, acknowledge outstanding accomplishment in teaching, scholarship and service to our campus and the wider academic community. It is a privilege to recognize those members of our faculty who were awarded tenure this past year:

Samuel M. Behar, MD, PhD

Alexei A. Bogdanov, PhD

Daniel N. Bolon, PhD

Charles P. Emerson Jr., PhD

Guangping Gao, PhD

Matthew J. Gounis, PhD

Jean King, PhD

Kate L. Lapane, PhD

Stephen C. Miller, PhD

Peter A. Rice, MD

Sean P. Ryder, PhD

Merav Socolovsky, MD, PhD

Hong Zhang, PhD

Faculty Promoted to Full Professor in Academic Year 2013-2014

We are most fortunate as an academic community to benefit from the commitment and wisdom of our full professors. These scholars serve as the leaders and mentors of our younger colleagues and as role models for our students. At this time, I would like to recognize those members of the faculty who have been recently promoted to full professor:

George Abraham, MD, MPH

William V. Dube, PhD

Patrick Emery, PhD

Michael Ennis, MD

Pang-Yen Fan, MD

Daniel Z. Fisher, MD, PhD

Phillip O. Fournier, MD

Marc R. Freeman, PhD

Paul D. Gardner, PhD

David S. Hatem, MD

Joonsoo Kang, PhD

William R. Kobertz, PhD

John Landers, PhD

Oliver J. Rando, MD, PhD

Nicholas R. Rhind, PhD

Mai-Lan A. Rogoff, MD

Lawrence S. Rosenthal, MD, PhD

Barry G. Saver, MD, MPH

Chancellor’s Medals

It is hard to believe, but this is the fifth year at Convocation that I have the privilege to present the Chancellor’s Medals. I am pleased that recognition of our faculty has become a welcomed and celebrated event as we begin each academic year. The number of nominations of deserving faculty has multiplied and it has become increasingly difficult for the committees, which have been charged by the provost to consider the many nominations forwarded to them, to select those members of the faculty who shall be forwarded as finalists.

Once again this year, I would like to thank Provost Flotte for his continued stewardship of this process. Further, I want to recognize the work of the four committees that were established for consideration of the nominees in teaching, scholarship, clinical care and service. I had the opportunity to meet with the chairs of each of these committees so that they could bring alive for me the thoughts, advice and counsel of their committees. In all of the meetings that I had with the committee chairs, they spoke with high praise about each of the faculty members brought to their attention and commented on all that these members of the faculty have contributed to our institution. For this service, I would like to express my appreciation to Dr. Susan Gagliardi, chair of the committee for Distinguished Teaching; Dr. David Harlan, chair of the committee for Distinguished Scholarship; Dr. Robert Brown, chair of the committee for Distinguished Clinical Excellence; and Dr. Judith Ockene, chair of the committee for Distinguished Service.

When I review the dossiers of each of the faculty members who are forwarded as finalists for my consideration, it is always a terrific privilege. Our faculty have records of accomplishment that are most noteworthy and remarkable. I am most encouraged by the letters I receive from colleagues, literally from around the world, who take the time to participate in our process as they support colleagues who are members of our faculty and who have been nominated in this process.

We have outstanding faculty on our campus and it is most difficult to make selections among those who have given so much to our institution. As the number of nominees has increased considerably, it is not possible to recognize each nominee. I am aware that the finalists have been informed of that status. Please know that all members of the faculty who were nominated have my sincere appreciation for all that they have done to make our institution among the finest in academic medicine.

Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Teaching

As education remains the promise of a great university campus and teaching its foundation, I shall again this year, begin the series of medal presentations with the Medal for Distinguished Teaching. It is a wonderful privilege to recognize an innovative, erudite, renowned, enthusiastic, master teacher who is beloved as an educator and mentor and who is authentic, gifted, humble, and patient. Please join me in recognizing this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Teaching, Dr. David Clive!

Dr. Clive, throughout your years at UMass, you have used humor, empathy and understanding to teach our learners at both the undergraduate and graduate levels what has been referred to as “the driest aspects of renal physiology.” How an organ that creates urine could be referred to as “dry” befuddles me, yet you have taken teaching of the complexities of this organ to a superior level. Reportedly, you went into nephrology because it was the subject that confused you the most; now you help our learners to keep “kidney math” straight as you make renal physiology straightforward!

Year after year our students have recognized you with their awards for teaching; in fact, your teaching awards, like red and white cells that are leaked from the membranes of diseased kidneys, are too numerous to count. Described as “sensitive, warm and approachable,” your “down to earth teaching style” “that eschews any scholarly pretension” when mixed with self-deprecating humor and compassion, has allowed you to bring the joy of medicine to students, residents and colleagues alike. Many have drawn on their experiences with you as motivators during the challenging times in their careers. “The profound love of caring for and devotion to your patients quickly engages your students with an ease and style” that readily fosters their love of medicine.

When describing your distinguished career, it has been said: “Dr. Clive is the kind of physician that every patient wants to care for them and every [student] and resident wants to learn from.”

 “…what is truly special about him is how he embodies all the aspects of a great physician-educator;” as he is “an accomplished scientist, trusted clinician, beloved educator and a respected humanitarian.”  

David, in recognition for your outstanding commitment to the education of so many who have been your students, it is my privilege to invite you to present this year’s campus-wide Last Lecture, a celebration of education that we have established to recognize the importance of teaching in all that we do. It will be a privilege for all of us on campus to benefit from your generosity as we become your students!

Please accept my congratulations as this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Teaching!

Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship

Scholarship brings special distinction to our campus. Our faculty are held in high esteem and their scholarly works are recognized for the important contribution they make to science. Our community of scholars is uniquely collaborative and collegial and this leads to productivity and innovation that is the envy of the academy. Given this extraordinary spirit that exists, so many members of our faculty are making distinguished contributions to scientific discovery and translational research.

Throughout a distinguished career, the most accomplished of scientists make seminal contributions to their field of inquiry. The stature they attain is arrived at through the intensity of their curiosity and the integrity and rigor of their science. Aware of the many contributions that one scientist can bring to our institution while being internationally recognized and respected; it is a privilege to recognize this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship, Dr. Allan Jacobson!

Dr. Jacobson, you have been described as a pioneer for your “research on the molecular pathways of translation initiation and mRNA decay [as you were] among the first to establish mechanistic links between these two processes.” As one who is “entirely motivated by his quest to know the truth,” you have “played a central role in discovering the proteins that mediate nonsense-mediated mRNA decay and [you have] been at the forefront of efforts to elucidate the mechanism of this pathway.” Your science has been described as “fearless;” your approach as “creative;” your scholarship as filled with “wisdom;” and your intuition as “unusual” as you are “an early adopter of all things clever in the lab.”

Throughout your entire career, our medical school has benefited from your scholarship and intellect. You have been continuously funded by the NIH for 35 years, received a prestigious MERIT award, served on study sections and review panels and in all ways, have been an outstanding investigator and scientific leader. Your publications are of high impact and your research discoveries have led to the creation of two companies, one of which has developed a novel small molecule for enhancing read-through of stop codons that may have a profound impact on the care of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

While Einstein-like in your appearance, Dangerfield was no equal to your comedic demeanor. But, that said, it is the sincerity of your commitment to our institution that makes you most beloved by those in our community.

Allan, it is a great privilege to invite you to present the keynote address at this year’s Research Retreat, a fitting recognition for the recipient of this honor.

Please accept my congratulations as this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship!

Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Clinical Excellence

The medal for distinguished clinical excellence recognizes a candidate’s clinical care during the period of the nominee’s association with our institution. Candidates for this medal should have a substantial record of clinical practice during their faculty careers, be it in medicine or nursing, and serve as role models for peers, residents, and students in their provision of quality clinical care and in their interactions with all members of the health care team. Candidates should be leaders in their communication and professional skills and be known for their humanism and advocacy for their patients. Nominees should take a scholarly approach to clinical care and through their activities, should have made a demonstrable, substantial and long-lasting contribution to improvements in clinical care in the candidate’s discipline.

This year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Clinical Excellence is a devoted, highly praised, nationally recognized pioneer with a remarkable reputation for clinical and educational service to patients and learners alike; the medical profession; and our institution; Dr. Karen Green.

Dr. Green, you have been described as a physician who helps her patients to “appreciate the miracle and grace” of their pregnancies. You have cared for thousands of mothers and their infants throughout your distinguished career. You were the first perinatologist to be recruited to our medical school and you were instrumental to the building of high risk obstetrics in our community. Known as a bridge-builder, your professional instincts and influence have been felt throughout our region.

At UMass, you were “a forerunner in the care of HIV patients, leading several HIV multi-center studies … and you made a major impact on [the treatment of] substance abuse in pregnancy.” Colleagues have been impressed with your “commitment to providing [your] patients with the highest quality clinical care [while recognizing] the importance of clinical research to better understand … disease and ultimately develop treatments and preventions.” Described as among the first to believe in and practice “team science,” you were instrumental to our institution’s “success in defining timing of transmission of HIV and developing Nevirapine for use in pregnant women.”

Attentive to the needs of those for whom you care, you compassionately guide patients and their families through difficult moments as they navigate through the uncertainties of pregnancy, all the while, you exude confidence and offer reassurance and then “authentically rejoic[e]” when infants are born healthy. Your involvement with the March of Dimes has allowed you “to shape [your] students’ thinking [as they] develop an understanding of what a family endures when their child is born prematurely, sick or with illness.” In each instance, you have brought your professional demeanor to each patient as you have cared for them uniquely. They have rejoiced in the joy and seen that you have delivered “the best gifts [they] have ever received in [their] life!”

Karen, it is a great privilege to invite you to address our first year students and their families next year at their White Coat Ceremony. This is a fitting recognition for one who has worn the white coat with dignity while recognizing the privilege in doing so.

Please accept my congratulations as this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Clinical Excellence.

Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Service

Making demonstrable, substantial and long lasting contributions to our campus community and beyond is an exemplary commitment made by so many of our faculty. It is fitting then, that we recognize a career-long commitment of service when we celebrate the legacy of our faculty and in this instance, one faculty member who has received the acclaim of others through their commitment to such a high ideal.

This year it is a distinct privilege to recognize a devoted, loyal, committed, engaged leader whose career-long service to our institution is unique in its breadth, reach and long-lasting impact. Please join me in recognizing this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Service, Dr. Michele Pugnaire.

Dr. Pugnaire, you are a “tireless advocate for medical education.” You have a singular focus and respect for our learners. You have led our institution’s development and implementation of our nationally recognized LiNC curriculum and, whether it be through “pedagogical practice [or] curricular content,” you have been the conductor of a committed symphony of educators, as each year they engage, teach, mentor and guide our students in fulfillment of the commitments or obligations of their medical oath, as they educate those who come behind us in our profession. You have been described as a “champion for maintaining our educational content and process at the highest standard.”

You are an ardent believer in the importance of inter-professional engagement throughout the education of our learners. You are a student of innovation and an early adopter of models of engaged learning, such as the establishment of learning communities and community engagement that have so well-served our educational environment.

Undaunted by process or critical review, you have been the principled architect of our recent re-accreditation efforts. In so doing, you have brought learners and faculty together to assess and demonstrate the best practices of an educational institution. Together, with your guidance, we have reviewed critically our practices and demonstrated to our peers the quality of our educational offerings.

You are a community-builder on campus and in our region. You have brought the academy into the local medical society and have deftly developed trusting relationships that have cloaked the town with the gown.

Your leadership has had its global reach and commitment. For over a decade, each year you have brought service-learning to our students and faculty as you have organized a trip to the Dominican Republic. Through imagination, strong will and compassion, you have shown by example to our students, the privilege of caring for others; and while so doing, you have brought dignity to those who are less fortunate and in need of care and compassion.    

Michele, it is my privilege to invite you to carry the mace at formal university functions throughout the year. At the conclusion of today’s ceremony, I shall ask Dr. Judith Ockene, last year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Service, to present the mace to you. As the standard bearer for our faculty, this position of prominence is well deserved for one who has given such outstanding service to our university throughout a distinguished career.

Please accept my congratulations as this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Service.

The Future is Upon Us

Each year, it is so impressive to celebrate the tremendous accomplishments of our faculty. Our medical school is so highly regarded by so many because of the faculty who fulfill their academic pursuits at our institution. Congratulations to those we recognize and invest today.

Last year, we expended considerable effort on two planning initiatives: the development of a university-wide Life Sciences Strategic Plan and the creation of a successor strategic plan for our academic health sciences center.

In the university-wide initiative, colleagues from across the university came together to create and endorse three overarching strategic goals while defining a number of accompanying strategic objectives. These goals and objectives build on and are an outgrowth of the successes of the initial system-wide life sciences planning process conducted 2007-2008. In this successor planning document, the Life Sciences Task Force has deliberately created a university-driven strategic framework, the basic elements of which can and will be pursued through coordinated and targeted investments and structural improvements at the university level.

The Life Sciences Task Force strategic goals:

Promote the university’s central role in strengthening the commonwealth’s global leadership position in the life sciences by implementing targeted initiatives that develop a talent ecosystem to encourage interconnectedness among all stakeholders, ensure the highest educational quality at all levels and enable UMass graduates to find success in the state’s innovation economy;

Foster an innovative, collaborative and complementary research enterprise that will enhance the breadth, depth, scope and impact of the university’s R & D efforts; and

Position the UMass campuses as hubs for industry engagement, technological innovation and regional development that drive the commonwealth’s innovation ecosystem across all regions of the state.

As the report states, “The UMass Life Sciences Task Force endeavored to offer [a] vision and articulate [a] value proposition through the development of [the] university-wide life sciences strategic plan. The strategic goals and objectives outlined in the document were developed within a framework of shared investment, strategic alignment and mutual benefit, as well as founded upon a clear recognition that the continued success of the university’s life sciences enterprise will be dependent upon and inextricably linked to the continued success of the Massachusetts life sciences community.

As the initial strategic planning process powerfully demonstrated, it is critically important, both for the university and the commonwealth, to align priorities and strategies between the state’s public research university, state government and other key constituencies. This new strategic plan builds on that theme as it includes a series of university-driven initiatives, investments and internal improvements that are aligned with and complement the commonwealth’s strategic priorities and future direction in the life sciences. In this model of shared and strategic partnership, the university’s life sciences investments can be fully leveraged through targeted support from key external partners, thereby maximizing the benefit to and impact on the broader life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts.”

Implementation efforts will begin shortly to address the many recommendations in the report. Our campus will continue to play an essential role as we collaborate with colleagues from across the university as we develop talent, conduct research and engage externally in state-wide innovation efforts.

So too, on our campus, we have been working throughout the last academic year, in partnership with our health system, to develop an academic health sciences center strategic plan. That plan, which will soon be completed, has four strategic goals and four strategy-enabling goals.

“[From] 2014 to 2020, we will continue our endeavors to maintain our status as a premier academic medical center by focusing on two main areas. First, we will build on our core mission strengths in education, research and health care delivery by adopting strategies that enhance our capacities for highly integrated and collaborative work. The goals in these strategies are to identify, design, an implement initiatives that promote working effectively across our multiple specialty areas. Second, we will focus on specific enabling strategies to help enhance our mission strengths. These enabling strategies include effective utilization of information technologies in all aspects of our joint enterprise, development and implementation of strategies to attract and retain our top talent, effective and efficient integration of critical services and enhancement of our comprehensive cancer strategy.”

A tremendous amount of effort was expended as we met, discussed, debated and drafted our strategic plan. The conversations were at times charged and difficult. So it should be. The end result is a document that represents the reality of where we find ourselves as an academic health sciences center.

The real effort is about to begin as we convene groups to consider each of the goals and work concertedly with our health system partner to develop implementation plans, set time frames for goal achievement and effectively monitor our progress with defined metrics and outcome measures.

The strategic plan is a living document. Perhaps with its acceptance and implementation we may need a leap of faith by some. Consider that we have created a plan that will serve us well as a roadmap for our actions throughout the remainder of the decade. Should our efforts require that the plan be modified, we will take that action as we proceed. Our entire community is welcomed to participate in our implementation efforts and to critique our actions, comment on our successes and address our shortcomings as we move into the future in fulfillment of our mission and vision.

The Research Funding Challenge

The recent phenomenon around the ALS ice bucket challenge has delivered for me a very important message: the people of our country are concerned, that as a nation, we are not investing sufficient resources to conduct the research that is essential to cure the diseases that impact our human condition.

Time after time as the phenomenon spread across the land, people approached me to speak about their acceptance of the challenge. As they did, they recounted for me a story about a person they knew who was affected by ALS.

There was a care and compassion that was profound. There was a determination that was fierce. There was a conviction that was sincere.

They asked questions: “Are we doing enough as a nation to cure ALS?” “Are we making progress in finding a cure?” “Why isn’t there more funding to support biomedical research?” “Who is responsible for the decline in funding you speak about?”

Inevitably the conversation broadened beyond ALS to cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or depression. “We need to do more, don’t we, Doc?”

Well, the answer is, yes we do. But I remain encouraged. Not encouraged that the funding will increase, but encouraged because over the past two months the conversation regarding the importance of funding medical research has come alive on the airwaves, in our schools and homes, and in the press. Hopefully, now it will get going in the Congress!

The ice bucket challenge tells me that the public is concerned about diseases and their impact on the lives of those they love. But our nation’s values construct needs resolve when it comes to research funding. Continued cuts in funding will have an even more profound and chilling effect on science if we do not act in the near term. We are at the forefront of discovery and we need to continue to make investments to assure that as a nation, we remain on the leading edge of investment and innovation. This is no time to continue the retreat.

In a recent Boston Globe editorial, the headline read: “Funding of scientific research needs boost, not gimmicks.” It commented that “As the 2014 congressional elections approach, federal funding for scientific research should be a hot topic.” They see that “…cuts, followed by flat funding of programs that used to be points of bipartisan pride, have jeopardized the country’s dominant position in global science.” They reason that “…In just one year, the projected deficit has been chopped in half because of a combination of fiscal discipline and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for high earners. That allows for more budgetary flexibility, especially in vital areas like science.”

I agree!

For me, one of the great joys of each day is to have the chance to listen to members of our faculty discuss their research efforts and to express the emotion that they are so close; so close to making that sentinel discovery that will elucidate the mechanism that causes a disease and will provide a cure. There is sincerity in their determination and resolve in their actions.

But they need support. They need support from our governments, both at the state and federal levels, and from those in our university who are in the position to provide additional funding to our institution so that we may make the advances that will change the course of history of disease. It shouldn’t take a bucket of ice water over the head or a leap of faith to get those in positions of leadership to make the investments in science that we need to find the cures that our patients so desperately want and need.

The American research enterprise is the finest in the world. We know what it will take to keep it so. Now is the time to be true to our nation’s values construct and increase our investment in research!

Your UMass Gift Works

We must do more as well.

Throughout the coming academic year we will conclude our planning for a comprehensive campaign; a fund raising effort that will join the other campuses of the university in an effort to raise monies, that will likely result in a goal of $1 billion being set. This will represent the largest development effort in the university’s history.

As we ask others to increase their support of our efforts, we will need to expend resources and energies of our own to develop new friends of the university, as we cultivate and steward those who have been generous to us in the past. Such a campaign could be transformative in so many ways.

I have heard many members of the faculty state that they would like to participate in these efforts. We will be tapping into this reservoir of good faith and ask all to join with our administrative leadership and development team as we work to establish a campaign goal, recruit volunteers to guide and advise the campaign effort and collaborate with the other campuses of the university in our messaging and communications around this fund raising effort.

Together with our university colleagues we will be making the case that “Your UMass Gift Works!” It is my expectation that in the spring of this year, we will announce the undertaking of a comprehensive campaign that over a seven year period will bring much needed resources to our campus.

So, as you can see, the agenda for the year is ambitious. We have strategic plans to implement, advocacy efforts to conduct, fund raising to undertake and all the while, we must remain true to our tripartite mission of education, research and patient care. There is much to do and I believe that we are fortunate to be together as the present-day stewards of our campus to do it.

Like David Clive, we can enliven our commitment to teaching as we fulfill our oath-filled obligations to educate those who come behind us in our professions.

Like Allan Jacobson, we can amplify our efforts in science as we fulfill the pledge to those who fund our efforts as we study, innovate and create with every fabric of our being.

Like Karen Green, we can dedicate ourselves to those for whom we care as we fulfill the tenets that brought us to our professions as we realize the privilege it is to care for our patients.

Like Michele Pugnaire, we can commit our every action in service to others as we fulfill our roles as integral members of a community that is committed to the well-being of those in need.

A few months ago, I saw a piece on the news where a young boy, Hunter, who wanted to increase awareness of the effects of cerebral palsy, carried his younger brother, Braden, for 40 miles. Hundreds of people supported him during the walk that went from Temperance to the University of Michigan. This disease-awareness effort did not catch on like the ice bucket challenge, but at the time, it struck me as a selfless act of kindness and brotherly love.

When they interviewed the boys, the older brother spoke of his love for his little brother and commented on the inspiration he receives each and every day from him. When the younger boy spoke, he commented on how proud he was of his older brother and stated quite emphatically, “I am just like other kids. The only difference is walking!” A CBS commentator noted: “Hunter carried Braden, but Braden lifted Hunter.”

As we start this academic year, it is my hope that we can carry each other and while so doing, provide the lift each of us needs to be our best every day. If times get a little tough, remember, you can challenge another to help you; once you dump a bucket of ice water on your head. All the while, let us take a leap of faith together as we know UMass Medical School is here for a reason!