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Medical College Holds 99th Annual Commencement Exercises

The Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa will award nearly 300 medical and graduate degrees and honor outstanding faculty, alumni and supporters.

The ’s 99th annual commencement exercises will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at the Milwaukee Theater, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave., in  Milwaukee.

The Medical College’s Medical School and its Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will award a total of 202 M. D., 38 Ph.D., 27 M.S., 4 M.A., and 18 Master of Public Health degrees.

T. Michael Bolger, J.D., president emeritus of the Medical College, will deliver the commencement address and will receive an honorary doctor of medical science degree.

The college will also honor Jan Lennon and Cordelia Taylor, long-time Wisconsin community leaders, with honorary doctoral degrees.

Additionally, three outstanding faculty members will be honored with Distinguished Service Awards, the College’s highest faculty honor. They are:

  • Jordan Fink, M.D., professor of medicine and pediatrics, chief of allergy and immunology at Froedtert Hospital, and director of immunotherapy at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin;
  • Ann Nattinger, M.D., M.P.H., Lady Riders Professor of Breast Cancer Research, professor of medicine and chief of the division of general internal medicine, and Director of the Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research; and
  • Reza Shaker, M.D., Joseph E. Geenen Professor and Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Director of the Digestive Disease Center and senior associate dean for Clinical and Translational Research.

T. Michael Bolger, J.D., served as president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin from 1990­-2010. During those 20 years, he oversaw a growth phase of the college that included a nearly 600 percent increase in its operating budget, a 412 percent increase in externally funded research and training grants, and growth of the clinical faculty from 400 to more than 1,200 physicians.

Under his leadership, the Medical College constructed approximately $200 million in new facilities for research and teaching, and he guided the college’s receipt of more than $300 million stemming from Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisconsin’s 1999 conversion to a for-profit stock corporation, which was used to create a permanent endowment for funding statewide public and community health programs.

Bolger has served as national chairman of the Association of Academic Health Centers. Prior to joining the Medical College, he was a partner in the law firm of Quarles & Brady. He served as general counsel to the college and provided the legal guidance that helped create the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in the 1970s.

Jan Lennon’s dedication to the Medical College of Wisconsin has spanned more than 35 years, beginning before her husband, the late Edward J. Lennon, M.D., became dean and then president of the Medical College.

She is a founding member of the Medical College’s Women in Science lecture series, a member and past chairman of the Medical College’s Digestive Disease Center Board and a charter member of the Medical College’s Neuroscience Center Board.

She is also the secretary of the MACC Fund Board, a founding member of Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse Board, an honorary alumnus of the Medical College and a recipient of the Medical College’s Warren P. Knowles Humanitarian Award.

Lennon’s volunteer spirit extends deep into the community. She serves on the Froedtert Hospital Foundation Board and has served on the boards of SHARP Literacy, Inc. and the Waukesha County Technical College Foundation. She will be honored at commencement with an honorary degree in medical humanities.

Cordelia Taylor, R.N., a champion for urban health in Milwaukee, will receive an honorary doctorate in medical science for her dedication to the community.

Nearly 25 years ago, Taylor transformed her family home in central Milwaukee into a faith-based care facility. Family House now spans a city block and offers long-term care for 50 senior citizens and disabled adults. 

Family House prides itself on offering a home-like setting with opportunities for recreation, education and community outreach. It serves the entire community with an after-school program for youth, a leadership program for young men in the community, and family meals.

Taylor’s accomplishments have been featured on Oprah and Today and in Reader’s Digest. Taylor earned the AARP Inspire award in 2007 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Black Nurses Association.

Jordan Fink, M.D., has contributed to the clinical and scholarly excellence of the allergy and immunology programs of the Medical College of Wisconsin for more than 45 years.

Fink was the first scientist to describe the disease of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. He has conducted numerous pioneering studies on the nature of the immunological mechanisms and characterization of protein antigens that lead to this disease as well as other occupational lung diseases.

Many of the allergy and clinical immunology fellows trained by Fink have become outstanding leaders in the field. His 20 years as director of the fellowship program the Medical College reach international prominence.

Ann Butler Nattinger, M.D., M.P.H., joined the Medical College in 1988 and within a year was named Director of Health Services Research in the division of general internal medicine.

Currently the Lady Riders Professor in Breast Cancer Research, she has been chief of general internal medicine since 1999. In 2001, she turned her passion for studying health outcomes and her vision for a collaborative research environment into the Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2001.

Under her leadership, the center has flourished to national acclaim and supports many interdisciplinary faculty members investigating a diverse array of subjects.

Using population-based databases, Nattinger brought innovation to the field of breast cancer care research. Her work has yielded great insight on the use of screening tests, geographic and demographic variations in breast cancer treatment, socio-economic disparities in care and outcomes, and the effect of health policy on treatment options, quality and research.

Reza Shaker, M.D., has been instrumental in the Medical College’s role as a leader in collaboration and research since he became a faculty member in 1988.

As senior associate dean for clinical and translational research, and the principal investigator of the $20 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, Shaker helped shape and now leads the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin.

The institute comprises eight Milwaukee institutions dedicated to collaborative biomedical research, education and clinical care. He has further encouraged collaboration as director of the Medical College’s multidisciplinary Digestive Disease Center.

Shaker is also the Joseph E. Geenen Professor and Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Widely recognized for his scientific achievements, Shaker has successfully integrated clinical practice with clinical research with the invention of the “Shaker exercise” to treat dysphagia and the “Reza band” to prevent pharyngeal reflux during sleep. 

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