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27th annual MLK tribute honors service, civility and diversity

By Bryan Goodchild and Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

February 10, 2015

The 27th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute at UMass Medical School highlighted the many ways in which members of the medical school and UMass Memorial Health Care community serve their patients and communities. The Feb. 10 event focused on Dr. King’s belief that, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

“This message has remained our theme for many years because service is the connecting link to what we do here at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center,” said Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion Deborah Plummer, PhD, in her opening remarks. “Most of us who work in the health care arena do so because we are committed to service.”

In her keynote address, “Fulfilling a Dream by Living Our Principles,” speaker Joan Reede, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, spoke of progress made since Dr. King’s time as well as the work that still needs to be done. Dr. Reede, dean for diversity and community partnership and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has been instrumental in advances in diversity and equality that have taken place in health care.

“These advances notwithstanding, Dr. King's hope for equity remains unfulfilled . . . The struggle continues,” Reede said. “As stewards of the health of our patients and our community, our nation, we must be committed to advancing social justice, committed to working toward eliminating inequality and toward ensuring access to culturally appropriate health care for all.”

Following Reede’s talk, presentations of the MLK Semester of Service Awards and the Chancellor’s Awards for Institutional Excellence in Civility turned the spotlight back onto UMMS faculty, staff and students.

MLK Semester of Service Awards were presented by Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. Five projects funded for completion by 17 School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Graduate School of Nursing students include a tennis program for teens with autism; cooking classes for patients receiving fresh produce at Family Health Center of Worcester; health and parenting education for adolescent mothers; and initiatives to support Burmese refugees and young men of color interested in health care professions.

  Terance Flotte, Janice Lagacé, Joan Reede and Chancellor Michael Collins
  Janice Lagacé (second from left) receives the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in Civility during UMass Medical School’s 27th Annual Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With Lagacé are (from left) Terence Flotte, keynote speaker Joan Reede and Chancellor Collins.

Chancellor Michael F. Collins presented the Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in Civility to Janice E. Lagacé, associate director for research funding services in the Office of Research. The award is given annually to an individual or group who demonstrates integrity, courtesy and respect toward fellow members of the UMMS community; is accountable for their actions; and promotes an environment where individuals feel safe and supported.

“In your behind-the-scenes but absolutely essential role you perform your job with the utmost professionalism with unfailing courtesy and with unmatched civility,” said Chancellor Collins. “The example you have set has . . . positively impacted your department, and indeed, our entire research enterprise.”

Collins also announced that Brian Lewis, PhD, associate professor of molecular, cell and cancer biology, is the recipient of the 2015 Award for Institutional Excellence in Diversity. The award is given annually to an individual or group who works toward building an inclusive culture characterized by civility and respect; increasing numbers of underrepresented groups in student, faculty and staff positions; improving the cultural competence of the workforce through diversity education and programming; and advancing health equity by making a significant impact on reducing disparities through research, service and practice. Dr. Lewis, who was unable to attend, will be presented with his award and citation on a date to be announced.

Related link on UMassMedNow:
UMMS students partner in service with community organizations