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[May 24, 2013]


SUNY Downstate to Graduate New Health Professionals for New York and the Nation at Commencement Ceremonies May 29:

Dr. Thomas Farley and Dr. Edward H. Shortliffe to Deliver Commencement Addresses

Brooklyn – SUNY Downstate Medical Center will send a new class of physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, research scientists, and public health professionals into the world on Wednesday, May 29, at commencement ceremonies at Carnegie Hall. The majority of the graduates will stay in Brooklyn, New York City, or New York State to practice.  

The ceremony for the College of Medicine, School of Graduate Studies, and School of Public Health will take place at 3:30 pm and the ceremony for the College of Health Related Professions and College of Nursing will be held at 7:30 pm. Downstate President John F. Williams, Jr., MD, EdD, MPH, FCCM, will deliver greetings and closing remarks at both ceremonies.


College of Medicine, School of Graduate Studies, and School of Public Health

At the afternoon ceremony, Thomas Farley, MD, MPH, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will deliver the commencement address.  

Dr. Farley is a strong proponent of using environmental and policy change to alter personal behavior as a means of combating preventable diseases. Dr. Farley's many health initiatives include advertising campaigns to show the physical damage caused by smoking, a grading system for restaurant cleanliness, a ban on super-sized sodas, and efforts to improve oral health among children, reduce salt in packaged foods, and lower the incidence of teenage pregnancy.

Garry S. Sklar, MD, will be presented with the President’s Award. Dr. Sklar is a highly respected anesthesiologist who served as a member of the Downstate faculty from 1974 to 1978 and has maintained a strong allegiance to the Department of Anesthesiology to this day. In recognition of the department's significant body of work and its continuing historic contributions to the field, Dr. Sklar directed a major gift in 2012 to endow The Garry S. and Sarah Sklar Professorship in Anesthesiology. The endowed professorship focuses on translational research and the cognitive and behavioral effects of anesthesia during and after surgery. The President’s Award is given to distinguished professionals who have made significant contributions to health care or to society and who have also served SUNY Downstate in an extraordinary capacity.

Two prominent SUNY Downstate health educators will receive the Ailanthus Award:

JoAnn Bradley, EdD, is a charismatic leader who has excelled in many roles during her long career at Downstate. As senior vice president for philanthropy, she raised millions of dollars to advance the work of the medical center. Dr. Bradley also served as professor, executive dean, provost, and vice president for academic affairs. She was active as a commissioner for the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and on numerous task forces. Dr. Bradley is credited with strengthening the Medical Research Library and the Continuing Medical Education Program. She was also instrumental in planning the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and its Health Science Academy.

Martin J. Salwen, MD, distinguished service professor of pathology at Downstate, is an expert in the study and diagnosis of disease processes. A Downstate graduate, Class of 1957, he is highly regarded for his clinical acumen and teaching skills. Dr. Salwen's long association with Downstate has also helped him excel as a medical historian. In 2010, as part of the medical center's sesquicentennial activities, he conceived, edited, and produced “Downstate at 150: A Celebration of Achievement.” This collection of essays details the careers and contributions of 150 individuals who were educated or worked at Downstate since its founding in 1860. Dr. Salwen has also been an active member of the College of Medicine's Alumni Association for decades.

The Ailanthus Award is named after the Ailanthus Altissima, the rugged tree featured in the Betty Smith novel, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” The award is given to those whose tenacity and dedication has benefited SUNY Downstate and the people of Brooklyn. 
The College of Medicine will graduate 216 new physicians. The School of Graduate Studies will grant PhD degrees to 15 students and the School of Public Health will grant 34 master of public health degrees.


College of Health Related Professions and College of Nursing
Edward “Ted” Hance Shortliffe, MD, PhD, MACP, FACMI, will deliver the commencement address at the evening ceremony for the Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions and also receive an honorary doctor of science degree. Dr. Shortliffe is a pioneer in the use of artificial intelligence in medicine and a founder of biomedical informatics. Currently a scholar in residence at the New York Academy of Medicine, Dr. Shortliffe has held administrative positions in academic medicine, research, and national organizations, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and National Library of Medicine. In 2006, Dr. Shortliffe was given one of the highest honors in biomedical informatics, the Morris F. Collen Award from the American College of Medical Informatics. From 2009-2012, he served as president of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Mary Masterson Germain EdD, ANP-BC, FNAP, will also receive an honorary doctor of science degree at the ceremony. Dr. Germain is considered the architect of graduate nursing education at Downstate, and helped develop and implement the clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner programs. Dr. Germain served as the first president of the American Nurses Credentialing Center and laid the foundation for its MAGNET Recognition Program, which recognizes healthcare organizations for quality patient care and excellence in professional nursing practice. A retired colonel in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserve, she went on multiple missions overseas. Her honors include the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching and the President's Medal from Downstate for her role in providing medical disaster relief after 9/11.

The College of Nursing will graduate 193 students. Bachelor of science degrees in the RN to BS and Accelerated BS programs will be awarded. Master of science degrees will be granted in nursing (clinical nurse specialist), family nurse practitioner, nurse anesthesia, nurse midwifery, and women’s health nurse practitioner. A family nurse practitioner advanced certificate will also be awarded.

The College of Health Related Professions will graduate 137 students, granting bachelor of science degrees in diagnostic medical imaging and physician assistant. Master of science degrees will be granted in medical informatics, midwifery, and occupational therapy. Bachelor of science in health sciences/doctor of physical therapy degrees will also be granted.


SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks ninth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.