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UMass Chan marks first 50th class reunion

Hundreds return to campus as Class of 1979 sweeps highest class participation and most money raised titles

Arnold S. Freedman, Hannah Freedman and Lori Kahn standing together with framed Alumni Distinguished Service Award
Arnold S. Freedman, MD’79, R’82, joined by his daughter, Hannah Freedman, and wife, Lori Kahn, received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award at Reunion 2024.  

Against the backdrop of a beautiful spring day, more than 200 alumni returned to UMass Chan Medical School on May 4 for Reunion 2024. All reunion events took place on campus for the first time since 2019. Among alumni celebrating were members of the Class of 1974, who earned their medical degrees 50 years ago this month as UMass Chan celebrated its first graduating class.

Tours led by students showcased the Medical School’s cutting-edge facilities, including the anatomy lab, the interprofessional Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation, the Integrated Teaching and Learning Center, and learning community spaces. For many alumni, the vibrant campus looks dramatically different from their own time here as students. Major recent additions include the Veterans Affairs clinic and soon-to-be opened education and research building, a gleaming 350,000-square-foot structure at the center of campus.

Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, delivered a UMass Chan update highlighting the Medical School’s status as a research powerhouse that also remains true to its core mission of training physicians on behalf of the commonwealth. Total research awards topped $320 million in fiscal year 2023, while nearly 50 percent of the members of the Class of 2024 matched in primary care. Exceptional faculty and highly competitive incoming classes are driving excellence across the Medical School, he said.

Joan Vitello-Cicciu, PhD, the Donna M. and Thomas J. Manning Chair in Nursing, dean of the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and professor of nursing, delivered an update from the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, illuminating its response to sweeping changes in health care delivery and community needs, including the mental health care crisis. Supported by an $11.6 million state grant, UMass Chan will be instrumental in expanding the pipeline of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in the community health center workforce, she said.

This year’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award, an honor presented by T.H. Chan School of Medicine alumni that recognizes a fellow graduate who has made a significant impact in their field, was given to Arnold S. Freedman, MD’79, R’82, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a member of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Department of Medical Oncology and an attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Freedman is a leading expert on the diagnosis and treatment of follicular lymphoma.

“I am so honored to have received this award,” said Freedman. “I would not have made the contributions recognized by this award if I had not received the excellent education and training at UMass Chan Medical School.”

Alex Menard, MS’15, DNP’19, AGACNP-BC, assistant professor and coordinator of the Acute Care NP Track, received the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing Alumni Award. Dr. Menard is known for his clinical expertise in critical care and as a highly supportive educator who embodies the spirit of nursing.

Approximately 40 alumni and guests attended the Continuing Medical Education seminar “The Current and Future Impact of AI on the Practice of Medicine.” The following faculty members led a lively panel discussion: Max Rosen, MD, MPH, chair of radiology; Neil Marya, MD’12, assistant professor of medicine, director of innovation and faculty development, and co-director of the Program in Digital Medicine; Adrian Zai, MD, PhD, MPH, chief research informatics officer and associate professor of population & quantitative health sciences; and Zhiping Weng, PhD, the Li Weibo Chair in Biomedical Research, chair and professor of genomics & computational biology.

Reunion also celebrated alumni giving that is critical to the vitality of UMass Chan. The Class of 1979 was recognized as having the highest alumni participation rate and raising the most in funding. This year’s reunion classes, which include classes ending in 4s and 9s, raised $418,337 in gifts and pledges as of the event.

As UMass Chan continues to prepare students to lead in increasingly complex health care systems, alumni support of scholarships is a top priority of Advancing Together: The Campaign for UMass Chan. This comprehensive campaign will attract philanthropic investments across the Medical School that will define the next 50 years of learning and discovery.

A special Leadership Reception held the night before reunion presented an opportunity for the Medical School to convey deep gratitude to some of UMass Chan’s most dedicated supporters. Guests included Dean’s Council members, Alumni Board members, fourth-year medical students and reunion volunteers. In his address to attendees, Dean Flotte highlighted the role of donor support in the Medical School’s continued growth and success.