SUNY Downstate Celebrates 50 Years of Service by its College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, School of Graduate Studies, and University Hospital of Brooklyn.

Nov 21, 2016

Brooklyn, NY – SUNY Downstate Medical Center recently celebrated the founding, 50 years ago, of the academic medical center’s College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, School of Graduate Studies, and University Hospital of Brooklyn at a gala reception on campus. The event climaxed a yearlong celebration of the founding in 1966 of the three schools and the center’s teaching hospital.

Soft lighting and black tablecloths transformed the Student Center Gymnasium into an elegant setting made all the more so by chamber music provided by a string quartet composed of talented Downstate medical students.

Interim Provost Mark Stewart, MD, PhD, welcomed the attendees, speaking for himself and Officer in Charge Michael Lucchesi, MD. Dr. Stewart noted that six years ago SUNY Downstate as a whole celebrated its Sesquicentennial – its 150th anniversary – and during that year looked back upon a number of remarkable achievements. “The golden anniversaries of the College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, School of Graduate Studies, and University Hospital are and their remarkable achievements are what we are highlighting this year."

In his role as dean of Downstate’s School of Graduate Studies, Dr. Stewart pointed to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Medicine to the late Robert F. Furchgott, PhD, in 1998, who was assisted in that research by 25 graduate students, and the first MRI human torso imaging by Raymond Damadian, MD, accomplished with the aid of two Downstate post-graduate assistants. He also pointed to the graduate school’s joint biomedical engineering PhD program with the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the first joint MD/PhD program in nanomedicine with SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Stewart noted successes of the College of Nursing and School of Health Professions, including the former’s accelerated program that was recognized as a best practice model throughout the country, and the latter’s midwifery program that was first to accept students with a background other than nursing. “Both of these colleges have incredibly high passing rates, so they are standouts not only in the State of New York but nationally as well.”

Dr. Stewart also pointed to advances at University Hospital of Brooklyn, such as its leadership in HIV/AIDS and the founding of its kidney transplant by the first African-American transplant surgeon, the late Samuel L. Kountz, MD, which “had a special emphasis that continues to this day on caring for patients in an underserved community.” 
Dr. Stewart thanked New York State elected and appointed officials who have provided support to the campus over the years. In attendance were New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene and David Suarez, his chief of staff, and, from the office of State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, District Director and Chief of Staff Samuel Clarke and Communications Director Jamila Pringle.

Daisy Cruz-Richman, PhD, RN, professor and dean of the College of Nursing, said, “This is truly a milestone.” She noted that since its founding in 1966, the College of Nursing has grown from a baccalaureate only program to an academic program offering a bachelor of science, a master of science with a major in nursing, and a post-graduate advanced certificate program. 

Dean Cruz-Richman added that three of the major accomplishments that she and the faculty and staff are most proud are the college’s commitment to diversity; its track record of outstanding program outcomes; and its record receiving the maximum number of years of national reaccreditation.

Allen Lewis, PhD, CRC, professor and dean of the School of Health Professions, noted that the college began with three programs in 1966, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and medical computer science, which later became medical informatics. “With the understanding that health in the twenty-first century is one of society’s most important concerns, our mission is to educate high-quality health professionals in the disciplines of physician assistant, diagnostic medical imaging, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medical informatics, and midwifery.” He added, “Today we have over 4500 alumni making a positive impact on peoples’ lives in the New York City metropolitan area, the state, the nation, and the world.” 

Margaret Jackson, MA, RN, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer of University Hospital of Brooklyn, expressed greetings from the hospital administration and pointed to successful collaboration between the clinical facility and academic programs, notably how the hospital has benefited working with the College of Nursing’s accelerated program.



About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

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, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth 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.