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Commencement speaker Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, urges UNE graduates to take risks

Commencement speaker, Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., president  of the Institute of Medicine
UNE President Danielle Ripich, Ph.D., presents the graduates with their diplomas.
UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine graduates applaud during the Commencement Ceremonies.

The University of New England's 2010 commencement speaker, Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., president  of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, asked graduates to ponder why there are still so many problems left for their generation to tackle.

UNE Commencement 2010 took place on May 22, 2010 at the Cumberland County Civic Center  in Portland. This was UNE's first University-wide commencement ceremony, incorporating all five of  the University's colleges. UNE awarded 1,172 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees  at the ceremony

The 2010 Commencement was also the 175th anniversary of the first graduation of students from Westbrook Seminary, which is part of the University of New England's rich heritage. UNE has its roots in Westbrook College (founded in 1831 as Westbrook Seminary), St. Francis College, and the New  England College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

In addressing the 2010 graduates, Dr. Fineberg explored his own question of why there are so many problems still facing the new generation of graduates. The three reasons he put forth were: (1) things change; (2) human nature doesn't change; and (3) many solutions sow the seeds of more  problems.

Dr. Fineberg, however, concluded saying, "Someone who knew I was going to speak with you today urged me to offer you at least one piece of more practical and encouraging advice. So, here it is: don’t be afraid to take chances. Be willing to take a chance on yourself and others. Take calculated risks, and give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt. The worst chance you can take in life is taking no chances at all."

Dr. Fineberg was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree at the ceremony.

Dr. Fineberg served as provost of Harvard University from 1997 to 2001, following 13 years as dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.

He has devoted most of his academic career to the fields of health policy and medical decision making. His past research has focused on the process of policy development and implementation, assessment of medical technology, evaluation and use of vaccines, and dissemination of medical innovations.

Dr. Fineberg helped found and served as president of the Society for Medical Decision Making and also served as consultant to the World Health Organization.

At the Institute of Medicine, he has chaired and served on a number of panels dealing with health policy issues, ranging from AIDS to new medical technology. He also served as a member of the Public Health Council of Massachusetts (1976-1979), as chairman of the Health Care Technology Study Section of the National Center for Health Services Research(1982-1985), and as president of the Association of Schools of Public Health (1995-1996).

Dr. Fineberg is co-author of the books Clinical Decision Analysis, Innovators in Physician Education, and The Epidemic that Never Was, an analysis of the controversial federal immunization program against swine flu in 1976.

He has co-edited several books on such diverse topics as AIDS prevention, vaccine safety, and understanding risk in society. He has also authored numerous articles published in professional journals.

Dr. Fineberg is the recipient of several honorary degrees and the Joseph W. Mountin Prize from the US Centers for Disease Control. He earned his bachelor's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University.


(News release posted May 22, 2010)