Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.
Assumption names centennial commencement speaker, honorees
In May Assumption College will celebrate its centennial commencement, an event that has evolved and grown tremendously, from two graduates in the Class of 1917 to nearly 700 in the Class of 2017 who will receive an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree or certificate of advanced graduate study.
To commemorate the milestone, John L. Allen Jr., editor of Crux, a publication that focuses on news of the Vatican and Catholic Church, will deliver the address at the 100th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 14, at the DCU Center.
Allen, Mary Lou Jennings, executive director of the Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation, and Roberta Schaefer, Ph.D., founder and former president of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, will receive honorary degrees during the ceremony recognizing their dedicated work to community service and living lives that reflect the values of the college’s mission that include critical intelligence, thoughtful citizenship and compassionate service.
Allen — a senior Vatican analyst for CNN and served as correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter for 16 years — has written nine books on the Holy See and Catholic affairs, and is a popular speaker on Catholicism both in the United States and internationally.
“John Allen is a prolific journalist and the college is proud to welcome an internationally renowned writer to address the candidates for graduation during our 100th Commencement ceremony,” Assumption President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D, said. “Through his work as editor at Crux, Mr. Allen has worked to soften what he calls ‘the Catholic divide.’ Having Mr. Allen deliver his message to our students during this historic 100th commencement ceremony is a reminder that the college was born from the rich, Catholic tradition, and of our duty to continue to ‘Light the Way’ for others.”
In addition to delivering the commencement address, Allen will receive an honorary degree. Honorary degrees will also be conferred upon Jennings and Schaefer.
Jennings serves as executive director of the Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that empowers African-Americans to pursue their dream of a college degree. The mission of the foundation is to “establish the means by which to rekindle and enliven the hope and the opportunities that Catholic schools can offer to black children.”
Under Jennings’ stewardship, the foundation has provided scholarship assistance to about 200 African-American students to attend a Catholic college or university, including some who have attended Assumption College. The foundation also supports single mothers who are managing the demands of motherhood and college classes.
Schaefer is the founder and first executive director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, a center for information and expertise on public policy in Central Massachusetts. Under her direction, The Research Bureau grew from one-person who studied city and town matters to a five-person operation that examined pressing public policy issues throughout the region. During her three decades at The Research Bureau, the organization dedicated itself to keeping the community informed, writing hundreds of reports, hosting programs and forums, and ultimately, in 2000 under Schaefer’s leadership, creating a “citizen-informed government performance measurement program, which received widespread recognition for its citizen engagement and collaboration with the public sector leading to measurable improvements in government performance.”
Becker names director of alumni relations and annual giving
Mark T. Murray Jr. of Shrewsbury has joined Becker College’s Institutional Advancement Department as the director of alumni relations and annual giving.
“I’m thrilled to be joining such a skilled team, and I am especially excited about connecting with Becker alumni and talking about the new Colleen C. Barrett Center for Global Leadership and the college’s Blueprint for the Future,” Murray said.
Previously, Murray served as the assistant director of development for the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst where he managed a major gifts portfolio.
Starting in 2009, Murray began his development career while he was a student at UMass Amherst. Murray also worked for Clark University as the assistant director of The Clark Fund. During his time at Clark, he worked with alumni volunteers and reunion committees.
WCAC welcomes five to board
Worcester Community Action Council recently welcomed five people to its Board of Directors: Marybeth Campbell, Eve Gilmore, Olta Kodra, Donna Lombardi and Alejandro Mango.
Campbell is executive director of SkillWorks, a collaborative that brings together philanthropy, government, community organizations and employers to address the twin goals of helping low-income individuals attain family-supporting jobs and businesses to find skilled workers.
Gilmore is executive director of Edward Street Child Services, having worked throughout the past decade to advance awareness, professionalism and the importance of high quality early education and care for young children and their families. A nonprofit professional for 30 years, she has also held positions at the United Way of Central Massachusetts and the YWCA of Central Massachusetts, and remained active with multiple boards and committees in the field of early education and care.
Kodra has extensive experience with employment counseling and coordination, having worked in that capacity at Ascentria Care Alliance (formerly Lutheran Social Services) for nearly a decade. With a solid working knowledge of a variety of human service programs, she has significant experience working with refugees and internally displaced communities.
Lombardi is director of child nutrition programs for Worcester Public Schools, responsible for serving over 30,000 meals per day among 60 sites with a staff of over 280, including the development of nutritional standards, menu planning, staffing, and training to maximize school meals access, academic and health outcomes. She serves in an advisory capacity on a number of food and nutrition related committees including Working Cities Worcester, EOS Nourishing Kids Initiative and the USDA Foods Advisory Committee.
Mango is vice president of U.S. corporate audit at National Grid. He has worked for National Grid for 24 years and during this time he has had the opportunity to work in Electric Operations, Shared Services, and Business Services managing municipal, industrial and commercial accounts as well as time spent in the regulatory group.
“We are pleased to welcome such a diverse and talented group of leaders to our Board of Directors,” WCAC executive director Jill Dagilis said. “Their individual strengths and commitment to the community will serve the agency well as we continue efforts to help people move to economic self-sufficiency.” As directed by the agency’s by-laws, WCAC’s Board of Directors is a tripartite board comprised equally with representatives from the public sector, private sector and consumers.
UMass Medical School ranks in top 25 percent of medical schools in NIH funding
UMass Medical School ranked 29th out of 139 U.S. medical schools in National Institutes of Health funding, according to the 2016 report from the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. Ten academic departments at UMMS ranked in the top 50 among their peers at similarly named departments at U.S. medical schools in this important metric of research competitiveness.
UMass Medical School departments ranked in the top 50 by Blue Ridge include emergency medicine at 5; biochemistry at 10; orthopedics at 22; pathology at 29; radiology at 30; medicine (including internal medicine) at 34; neurology at 34; psychiatry at 35; pediatrics at 40; and family medicine at 41. Several basic science departments, including the Program in Molecular Medicine; the RNA Therapeutics Institute; molecular, cell & cancer biology; and neurobiology are not included in Blue Ridge department rankings because their department names do not match with NIH categories.
Overall research funding from all sources at UMMS is $288 million.
“The biomedical research enterprise at UMass Medical School fuels significant scientific discoveries in our labs that translate into improved patient outcomes, as well as tremendous economic growth for our region and Massachusetts as a whole,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “Every dollar of funds we secure from the NIH spurs $2.30 of economic development.”
Easter Basket donations wanted for children in DCF care
The Worcester East Area Board for the Department of Children and Families is seeking donations of Easter Baskets for children in care.
Items needed include baskets, decorative grass, Easter candy and new small toys, puzzles, books, coloring books and crayons.
Donations can be dropped off 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Worcester East DCF Area Office, 151 West Boylston Drive, Worcester.