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Health Center Today, April 19, 2011

Second White Coat Gala ‘A Tremendous Success’

By Chris DeFrancesco

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Calling it "a winning night" and "a tremendous success," Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs and medical school dean, says this year’s White Coat Gala was one of the top UConn Health Center fundraising events on record.

More than 800 people attended this year’s Gala, held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. They were able to get a close look at the 2011 NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship trophy, which accompanied one of the evening’s honorees: Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, who earlier this year led UConn to its third national title.

But the theme for the second annual White Coat Gala, organized for the Health Center by the University of Connecticut Foundation, was not about basketball. It was “celebrating generations of caring,” in the year marking the 50th anniversary of the Health Center’s founding.

All three of the 2011 White Coat Gala honorees have been with the university for at least half of those 50 years and, says Laurencin, “have played integral roles in the success of the UConn Health Center’s first half century.”

  • Dr. Marja Hurley is an internationally prominent molecular biologist and endocrinologist with 25 years of service to the Health Center. A UConn School of Medicine professor and associate dean, she directs the Health Center’s Health Career Opportunity Programs, which promote diversity and helps address disparities in both health and health care in Connecticut and beyond.
  • Dr. Ravindra Nanda, a UConn School of Dental Medicine professor, is a renowned leader in orthodontics. He joined the Health Center in 1972 and is the UConn Orthodontic Alumni/Ravi Nanda Chair in Orthodontics and head of the Division of Orthodontics and the Department of Craniofacial Sciences.
  • Calhoun, who joined the university in 1986, was honored for his longtime philanthropic support of the Health Center. The Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center was so named in 2003, and the annual Jim Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk has been raising money for the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center since 2007.

“All three have given their time and talent to help shape successful programs within the UConn Health Center and their work has inspired all of us,” Laurencin says.

Gala proceeds, which are still being tallied, will support faculty and researchers in areas throughout the Health Center.

“I am deeply grateful to Richard and Jane Lublin, title sponsors of the gala, as well as all of our sponsors, our volunteer committee and everyone who supported the event,” Laurencin says.