‘He truly loved his alma mater’

The School of Medicine was dedicated to late trustee Lewis Katz, who died in a plane crash last May.

Members of the Temple marching band parade through the Lewis Katz School of Medicine dedication ceremony Oct. 13.​ | Margo Reed TTN

Temple’s School of Medicine was renamed the Lewis Katz School of Medicine after the late member of the Board of Trustees early Tuesday morning. Lewis had been a trustee for 16 years before he died in a private plane crash last May.

The ceremony paid tribute to Lewis’ legacy and the contributions he made to Temple.

“People say they love their alma mater,” President Theobald said. “He truly loved his alma mater. Renaming the School of Medicine means he will always be remembered at Temple.”

Lewis announced a donation of $25 million to the Lewis Katz School of Medicine just weeks before his death. The money will be held in an endowment, with 4.5 percent going to students, faculty support and research each year.

Lewis received an honorary doctorate degree the same day he announced his donation and delivered his award-winning commencement address to the Class of 2014.

Theobald said renaming the Lewis Katz School of Medicine was “the greatest tribute [Temple] can offer.”

Speakers at the Naming Dedication Ceremony focused on the accomplishments of Lewis’ life and the qualities of his character.

Temple University School of Medicine became the Lewis Katz School of Medicine in honor of Lewis Katz at the dedication ceremony on the university's Health Sciences Campus Oct. 13. | Margo Reed TTN
Temple University School of Medicine became the Lewis Katz School of Medicine in honor of Lewis Katz at the dedication ceremony on the university’s Health Sciences Campus Oct. 13. | Margo Reed TTN

“He was offended by people that didn’t believe in or recognize the value of this nation’s children,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory A. Booker. Booker added Lewis was interested in people like him: those who had seen tough times, which led to Lewis becoming something like a father figure to him.

“Both he and my father had grown up poor and without their fathers,” Booker said. “His story fascinated me. Although he amassed great wealth, it was not a dominating feature of his personality.”

Lewis’ son, Drew Katz, took his father’s place as a university trustee, and Booker emphasized Lewis’ love for his family and the importance it held.

“For all his success, he needed a strong sense of self,” Drew said. “This school is named for one of the truly great people this world has known.”

Other distinguished speakers included Larry Kaiser, the dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine and CEO of the University Health System, Pennsylvania Sen. Robert Casey, Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine, Patrick O’Connor, the chairman of the Board of Trustees and Adys Mendizabal, an MD/MA candidate for the Class of 2016 and Student Government Association president.

“We memorialize Lewis Katz in a very appropriate way,” O’Connor said. “This doesn’t just reflect past accomplishments, but also acts as a beacon for trustees, faculty and students.”

The speakers all said Lewis cared passionately about giving back to Temple and the Philadelphia community. He had a particular dedication to young people and wanted to create a safe place for children and teens to grow, be healthy and enjoy their childhood. Lewis’ mission was for people to have healthy minds and healthy bodies.

Drew said Lewis had always been amazed at how doctors saved people’s lives and that the Lewis Katz School of Medicine would serve the underserved. Although Lewis did not attend medical school in his lifetime, his philanthropy and values were deemed most appropriate for the School of Medicine.

The ceremony included the revealing of Lewis’ favourite quote, a portrait of Lewis at his final commencement address and one of eight cast-iron owls that stood above the entrances to the original Medical School Building before the Medical Education and Research Building was constructed in 2009.

Julie Christie can be reached at julie.christie@temple.edu or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

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