Jean Chernosky, who established the Marvin E. Chernosky, MD Endowed Distinguished Chair in Dermatology, is pictured with her daughter-in-law Dr. Debra Chernosky.
Jean Chernosky, who established the Marvin E. Chernosky, MD Endowed Distinguished Chair in Dermatology, is pictured with her daughter-in-law Dr. Debra Chernosky.

When Dr. Ronald Rapini, chair of the Department of Dermatology, walked across the stage Sept. 29 at the annual UTHealth Faculty Endowment Dinner, he carried a man’s legacy on his shoulders.

Rapini was being honored as the first Marvin E. Chernosky, MD Endowed Distinguished Chair in Dermatology at McGovern Medical School. Chernosky’s wife, Jean, established the position to honor her late husband, who served as the founding Chair of the Department of Dermatology and practiced medicine with distinction for 40 years. Chernosky died in 2010.

“I think my husband would be very pleased,” Jean Chernosky said. “He would be amazed at the growth of the school and how well it’s done.”

In all, UTHealth recognized 43 faculty members at the dinner as new holders of endowed appointments, along with the benefactors who established the positions.

UTHealth President Dr. Giuseppe Colasurdo emphasized the university’s investment in “human capital”—symbolized by the faculty members in attendance—and paid tribute to the donors in the audience.

“We wanted our faculty and their family members to really see the people who have made their careers possible,” said Colasurdo, who presented each endowed appointment holder with a university medal of distinction.

Bob Graham, chairman of the UTHealth Development Board, also thanked faculty and donors for their work on behalf of the university, driving home the importance of UTHealth’s mission.

“What goes on at UTHealth is truly remarkable—we’re training doctors, nurses, dentists, and scientists; curing and preventing diseases, addressing the most pressing health conditions of our time, and bringing hope to people who are suffering—it’s truly some of the best work you can do on this earth,” said Graham, who with his wife Annie—also a Development Board member—has established endowed faculty positions at the Brown Foundation Institute for Molecular Medicine and the School of Biomedical Informatics.

For the evening’s keynote address, Dr. Carmel Dyer, associate dean for Harris County Programs, shared how faculty leaders and donors can work together to tackle “Grand Challenges.”

“In 2007, I was recruited to tackle the ‘Grand Challenge’ to make Houston a healthier place to grow old,” said Dyer, who holds the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Chair in Gerontology. “Twenty years prior, Dr. Huffington had endowed a chair in gerontology, which has been instrumental in building capacity in aging services at UTHealth.”

After noting the exponential grown of UTHealth’s gerontology services, she shared an email from a woman who said those services were making a significant difference in the life of her elderly father.

“This ‘difference’ in the life of this and other families would not have been possible without the support and vision provided by Mr. Huffington,” Dyer said.

Dr. George Stancel, executive vice president for academic and research affairs, delivered remarks highlighting the university’s outstanding faculty members and its corps of dedicated donors who make it possible to recruit the best talent.

“If people ask you what UTHealth is, it’s about these people, these amazing people,” said Stancel, who announced the names of each appointment holder and donor honored during the dinner.

For him, the evening represented more than recognizing how far UTHealth has come; it was an opportunity for the audience to set the university on a course for an even brighter future.

“I hope you can take the journey with us to make this a better, grander, greater place,” Stancel said.

View more photos from the event on UTHealth’s Flickr Stream.

-John Evans, Development Communications