University News

Med Ed dedication touts U.’s growth

Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, October 23, 2011

The new Medical Education Building glowed brightly against dark Jewelry District streets at its official dedication Friday evening.

Politicians and members of the Brown community praised Alpert Medical School’s development, which is advancing Providence’s knowledge district and the bounds of national medicine.

The ceremony started with a formal procession of honorary degree recipients dressed in full gowns. Herbert Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Warren Equities and president of the Warren Alpert Foundation, joined their ranks later in the night, receiving a degree of his own. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras also honored Kaplan, proclaiming Oct. 21 “Herbert Kaplan Day” and presenting him with a key to the city.

Members of the Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — and other prominent figures mingled in the building’s foyer before the dedication. It was the first time most Corporation members had seen the building.

“It’s miraculous, the transformation,” said Chancellor Emeritus Stephen Robert ’62 P’91, who said he saw the factory building before its renovation.

Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76 opened the ceremony, thanking President Ruth Simmons, the late Warren Alpert and others who contributed time and resources to the new building.

“The students now have a home, and they call it home,” said Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences. Students can work harder and professors can teach better in the building, he said, noting the 24-hour study spaces.  ­­He quoted Phillip Grupusso, associate dean for medical education, who said he feels “inspired” to teach in the facility.

The building symbolizes growth, both for the University and for the city’s economy, Wing said.

“It’s an exciting time of collaboration,” said Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14, “And it is anchored by this Med School.”

Simmons emphasized the extension of the University’s reach beyond College Hill. The presence of the mace, the ceremonial staff used to lead processions of Brown degree recipients, on the other side of the Providence River, carries “tremendous” symbolism, she said, calling the building “a triumph for the city and state, as well as Brown.”

Simmons presented Kaplan, Warren Alpert’s nephew, with an honorary degree for the stewardship of Alpert’s funds toward the Med School.

Keynote speaker Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, spoke candidly about the need for change in the nation’s “unsustainable” medical system, which he said suffers from problems of access and equality. “We now have a responsibility to try and deal with the problems we face,” Kirch said, and the Med School and the development of the Jewelry District can be part of the solution.

“The pieces are all here, converging,” Kirch said. Now that the new building is open, the University can accelerate progress toward excellence at a time that is crucial to the country’s medical system, he said.

The Med Ed building officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 15. The dedication was postponed until the October meeting of the Corporation.

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