The 57th Einstein Commencement on Thursday, May 28, was a time for rejoicing. After encouraging words from Richard M. Joel, president of Yeshiva University,
and Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., Einstein’s Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, the Class of 2015 responded with applause and cheers. “Celebrate now—residency starts soon,” said President Joel. As in previous years, the event was held in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.
Dean Spiegel acknowledged the 50th Anniversary Reunion Class of 1965 and presented the alumni awards with Arthur M. Kozin, M.D. ’82, president of Einstein’s Alumni Association. Recipients were Joseph D. Bloom, M.D. ’62, Dominick P. Purpura Distinguished Alumnus Award; Toby Tucker Hecht, Ph.D. ’73, Distinguished Ph.D. Alumnus/a Award; Hasan Bazari, M.D. ’83, Distinguished Alumnus/Clinical Practitioner Award; Ruth E. K. Stein, M.D. ’66, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Michael J. Reichgott, M.D. ’65, Ph.D., Lifetime Service Award. Joshua D. Nosanchuk, M.D., received two awards: the Honorary Alumnus Award and the Samuel M. Rosen Award for Outstanding Teaching (Preclinical).
The Faculty Awards
Dean Spiegel also presented the faculty awards. Honorees were Miriam B. Schechter, M.D., Samuel M. Rosen Award for Outstanding Teaching (Clinical); Robert L. Goodman, M.D., Harry Eagle Award for Outstanding Basic Science Teaching; Felise B. Milan, M.D. ’88, Harry H. Gordon Award for Outstanding Clinical Teaching; Edward R. Burns, M.D. ’76, Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching; Barbara K. Birshtein, Ph.D., LaDonne H. Schulman Award for Excellence in Teaching; and Ana Maria Cuervo, M.D., Ph.D., Saul R. Korey Award in Translational Science and Medicine.
Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, spoke on “gifts given and promises made,” reminding students that the first obvious gifts leading to their chosen career paths may have been toys—perhaps a doctor’s kit or a chemistry set—but that guidance and opportunities are also gifts. “Those memories will become a kind of fuel, and you will need them at times,” he said. He concluded his talk with his thoughts on the challenges we face as a nation to provide equitable, affordable care. (See box at left for more.)
This year, Einstein conferred 10 M.S., 7 master of science in bioethics, 1 master of public health, 185 M.D. and 33 Ph.D. degrees (6 of the latter along with M.D. degrees). This brings the grand total of Einstein graduates to 8,373 M.D.s and 1,493 Ph.D.s.
Faculty members, alumni, relatives and friends hooded the graduates. Many grads crossed the stage with children in tow, attesting to the balancing act they had performed to earn their diplomas.
Edward R. Burns, M.D. ’76, Einstein’s executive dean, concluded with the prayer of Maimonides, and the graduates moved their tassels from right to left.
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Darrell G. Kirch, M.D.
Association of American Medical Colleges
“One in 10 Americans still has no health insurance,” said Dr. Darrell Kirch in his Commencement address. “When I was a medical student, I couldn’t imagine that at this point in my career we would have so many people left out in terms of healthcare.” Dr. Kirch believes that the nation’s healthcare system needs to change—and that academic medicine can lead the way. Medical students who are empathic, engaged and resilient can keep the conversation going and work toward solutions to entrenched social problems.
Dr. Kirch is a physician, educator and leader, with the credentials needed for his mission. He has served as acting scientific director of the National Institute of Mental Health, dean of the Medical College of Georgia, and dean of the college of medicine and CEO of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at the Pennsylvania State University. His broad-based resumé made him an ideal choice for president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents medical schools, teaching hospitals, health systems and academic and scientific societies.
“If you care enough . . . if we care enough . . . maybe we can eliminate this problem of haves and have-nots in healthcare,” said Dr. Kirch. “Maybe we can finally live up to our clinical ethics and create a system that feels fair and just.”