Last Tuesday in the Medical Education and Research Building on the Health Sciences Campus, Dr. Larry Kaiser was formally named the inaugural Lewis Katz Dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine.
Named after the late Lewis Katz, a friend and mentor to Kaiser and former member of the Board of Trustees, the position is the first endowed deanship in the medical school.
Katz, months before he died in a 2014 plane crash, left Temple with a $25 million donation, which he intended for the school of medicine.
The medical school was renamed after Katz. Kaiser’s position as dean, one he has held since 2011, is now renamed, too, in honor of the trustee.
“Lewis was responsible for a lot of money to the university,” Kaiser said after the ceremony. “The endowment of the dean’s chair will be used to support various programs…a lot of the money we use for student scholarships.”
Kaiser is the president and CEO of the university’s health system and the senior executive vice president for Health Affairs at Temple, as well as a professor of thoracic medicine and surgery. In 1992, Kaiser was the first surgeon in the Delaware Valley to complete a successful lung transplant, said Amy Goldberg, the Surgeon-in-Chief in the Temple University Health System.
Kaiser’s colleagues, family members and other university administrators attended. Acting President Richard Englert, Lewis Katz’s son, Drew Katz, and Kaiser spoke at the ceremony.
The speakers praised Kaiser and the work he has done for the University.
Englert said the change is about “connecting Temple’s past with its future,” and the celebration of Kaiser’s newly endowed position was an “opportunity to celebrate and extend [Katz’s] legacy today.”
Englert added the university is comfortable with Kaiser’s ability to lead Temple’s medical school and health care enterprise, adding that he is sure Lewis Katz would be glad to know that Kaiser was receiving this honor.
Patrick O’Connor, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said that this first initiation of Kaiser as the Lewis Katz Dean is one further step in sustaining Lewis Katz’s great legacy.
“Who better to be named as the Lewis Katz Dean than Larry Kaiser,” O’Connor said. Kaiser founded the Lung Transplantation Program at the University of Pennsylvania and in 2011, he was named the dean of Temple’s school of medicine and the university’s senior executive vice president for health sciences.
“Dr. Kaiser is a surgeon’s surgeon,” Goldberg said. “We would let him operate on us and our families.”
Stephen Houser, the senior associate dean of research at the Katz school, said Kaiser has been instrumental in moving the university’s research forward.
“We have approximately doubled our research expenditures,” Houser said. “I don’t believe any other medical school in the United States has doubled its research expenditures in the last four years, and Temple has.”
Kaiser’s investments, Houser added, were vital to this increase.
Drew Katz, who has taken over his father’s position on the Board of Trustees, spoke on behalf of his family.
“[Kaiser] is a dear friend of my family, and he is a dear friend to me,” Drew Katz added.
Drew Katz said having his father honored by the medical school “means everything to our family.”
“Temple gave my father his start in life,” Drew Katz said.
He added that he is pleased with the fact that, through the medical school and through Kaiser, his father’s name and legacy will endure.
“This day is not really about me,” said Kaiser. “It is about Lewis Katz. One of the great privileges, and indeed honors, of my life was knowing Lewis Katz.”
Noah Tanen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.