School of Medicine Commencement recognizes Class of 2014

Members of the School of Medicine Class of 2014 celebrate just before the Commencement ceremony on May 22 at the Kansas City Music Hall.
Members of the School of Medicine Class of 2014 celebrate just before the Commencement ceremony on May 22 at the Kansas City Music Hall.

The more than 110 graduating students of the UMKC School of Medicine weren’t the only ones to receive a degree on May 22 during the School’s Commencement ceremony at the Kansas City Music Hall.

Kansas City businessman and philanthropist James B. Nutter, founder and chairman of the James B. Nutter and Company mortage and banking firm, was honored by the School of Medicine with an honorary doctorate for his long service to Kansas City.

Harry Jonas, M.D., dean emeritus, said Nutter’s desire to provide access to quality housing and safe neighborhoods aligns well with the School of Medicine’s strategic plan of advancing the health of its community.

“James B. Nutter, Sr., has dedicated years to helping shape Kansas City through urban revitalization and through his personal philanthropic leadership. As founder of James B. Nutter Mortgage Company, Jim has shaped Kansas City into a community where more citizens have the chance to succeed,” Jonas said.

“In recognition of his tireless efforts to create a strong, vibrant and healthy urban core in Kansas City, I recommend this honor on Mr. James B. Nutter, Sr.”

UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton joined School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D., and Jonas in presenting the honorary doctorate, one of many highlights of an evening that saw University of Missouri-System President Timothy Wolfe and Board of Curators member John Phillips offer their congratulations and plaudits to the graduating class of students who received their M.D., Master of Science in Anesthesia and Master of Science in Bioinformatics degrees.

Wolfe told class members that their distinction as graduates of the School of Medicine is an impressive title and puts them in a class of nearly 1 million graduates across the four campuses of the University of Missouri system.

“I hope you’ll reach back to those who follow you today to extend a helping hand just as you were able to reach out to those who graduated before you for their support, encouragement and assistance,” Wolfe said.

Phillips said this year’s graduates had already proven their dedication and ambition to succeed in a constantly changing world by earning prestigious degrees and that they should treasure that foundation and build upon it.

“Use your knowledge and passion for learning to not only recognize your potential but to improve the world,” Phillips said.

The evening also held special meaning for Doug Zweig, M.D., ’80, a St. Louis physician specializing in pulmonary medicine. Zweig received the 2014 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award, one day earlier, then watched as his daughter, Jessica, walked across the Music Hall stage to receive her medical degree.

Zweig spoke to the graduates about staying true to their passion and reminded them that while graduation is one goal accomplished, it’s only the beginning. He urged graduates to take charge of their own lives by being open to new ideas, concepts and opportunities, while also being inquisitive and involved with others.

“Your life should be lived to its fullest by involving yourselves in issues, events and organizations that you are committed to and give you significance. Take time to live each day to the fullest,” Zweig said. “By doing so, you won’t have to search for happiness. It will be your lifelong companion.”

Drees thanked the students as well as the School’s faculty, staff and University administration for the opportunity to have served as dean of the medical school. Drees announced in November that she will be stepping down as dean in 2014.

She urged the graduates to appreciate their education, recognize the benefits to both themselves and their communities, and to have confidence in the quality of education they carry with them.

“I have great confidence in you,” Drees said. “The faculty and staff of the School of Medicine have great confidence in you and so do the public and your communities.”