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Health Center Volunteers Raise Funds For Chair

By Jane Shaskan - July 18, 2005

A chair has been established at the Health Center in memory of a popular faculty member, thanks to money raised by volunteers.

Members of the Health Center’s volunteer group, the “auxiliary,” have been raising money to fund a chair in memory of Jay Healey, a former professor of community medicine and health care, for the past five years.

“Over the years, the auxiliary has funded dozens of worthy projects to benefit the Health Center community,” said Laurie Pencz, president of the auxiliary, “but our membership wanted to make a significant and more meaningful commitment. So we agreed to a five-year goal to fund a chair in memory of Jay Healey.

“He was highly regarded by the Health Center community,” she added, “and a chair in his name seemed an ideal long-term goal.”

Pencz handed the final check to Dr. Peter Deckers, executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, on June 28, establishing the UConn Health Center Auxiliary’s Joseph M. Healey Jr. Memorial Chair in Medical Humanities and Bioethics.

Deckers thanked the auxiliary for giving their time, talents, and resources.

“What other auxiliary has raised $1 million to sponsor a chair?” he said. “Endowed chairs say something about the people and culture of our organization. You’ve done something stunning as an auxiliary.”

Healey was on the faculty of the Department of Community Medicine and Health Care from 1975 until his death in 1993. When he died, a fund was established by his colleagues in his memory. By 2002, its market value was more than $140,000, and the auxiliary pledged to raise $900,000 over the next five years to fund a chair.

The money was raised through the auxiliary Gift Shop and its special sales of chocolate-covered apples, jewelry, leather goods, specialty chocolates, clothing, and books; the Thrift Shop; golf tournaments, garden parties, holiday and spring bazaars, and other special events.

“Nickels and dimes – little things can achieve goals,” said Irene Engel, a member of the auxiliary who led the fund-raising effort.

Healey, a lawyer, came to the Health Center in 1975 for his first and only academic appointment.

“He quickly became the most popular, beloved teacher, and a faculty leader,” said Dr. Carl “Fritz” Hinz, former associate dean at the medical school.

Healey taught courses in law and ethics, but also counseled students and others on ethical issues, Hinz added. “He pressed people to be their best. Jay never actually answered a question, but got the students to think for themselves. He was probably the single most influential person this faculty has ever had.”

Healey’s wife Marie said the chair is a fitting memorial for her husband. “Young people were the focus of Jay’s existence and efforts,” she said.

A national search for the first holder of the Chair is currently underway.

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