Distinguished physician and academician, you once said that your biggest obstacle was convincing your middle school and high school teachers that a career as a medical doctor was appropriate for you. Fortunately, you ignored their doubts and prejudices and pursued your goal. You earned your M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School and completed your internship and residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. You were a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, where you trained in geriatrics. In addition, you earned an M.B.A. in health care administration at the Wharton School.
While a practicing physician, you also taught at the University of Pennsylvania. You filled a variety of roles at Penn: Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems, chief of the division of geriatric medicine, and director of the Institute on Aging. You also served as associate chief of staff for geriatrics and extended care for the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Valued advisor and public servant, you served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as deputy administrator of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. You were a member of the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform and consulted to the White House on issues of health policy. You served on several federal advisory committees related to aging research, health statistics, preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries, and disease and disability prevention among older adults. You were a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. In addition, you co-chaired a congressionally requested study on racial disparities in health care.
Passionate and visionary health care leader, you became intrigued early on by the subject of public health, and by the importance of looking not only at the patient in front of you but also at whole patient populations. You recognized, too, the potential for philanthropy to address big problems in the area of health and health care, to make a difference on a large scale, and to touch people directly and change their lives. And so you began your work at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest health care philanthropy in the United States. You served for two years as senior vice president and director of the Foundation's Health Care Group before taking over in 2003 as president and CEO of the Foundation.
The goal of the Foundation, simply stated, is to help Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need. Driven by that mission, you have approached seemingly intractable issues with energy and determination. Under your leadership, the Foundation has restructured its strategic investments to target a set of high-impact priorities. Among these are designing a more effective, performance-driven, patientcentered health system; improving the quality and safety of patient care; strengthening public health systems; easing the nursing crisis; halting the rise in childhood obesity; covering the uninsured; and developing the next generation of health leaders and policy makers.
And if this task were not challenging enough, you also serve on numerous medical advisory boards and commissions, speak to audiences across the country, and write commentary and op-ed pieces. Most impressive of all, you continue to treat patients at a community clinic in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Renowned physician Sir William Osler said, "The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head. Often the best part of your work will have nothing to do with potions and powders, but with the exercise of an influence of the strong upon the weak, of the righteous upon the wicked, of the wise upon the foolish." Time and again during your illustrious career in medicine and public health, you have demonstrated your intellect, artistry, and heart as well as your strength, righteousness, and wisdom.
Therefore, under the authority of the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware, I have the pleasure and honor of conferring upon you, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, the degree of Doctor of Science and do declare you entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges to that degree appertaining throughout the world. In testimony thereof, I am pleased to present to you this diploma.
A. Gilchrist Sparks III
May 29, 2010