Past commencement ceremonies
Previous commencement speakers
2020 MBS commencement address
Steven J. Scheinman, MD
Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Geisinger
President and Dean of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
2020 MD commencement address
Jaewon Ryu, MD, JD
President and Chief Executive Officer of Geisinger
2019 commencement address
Holly J. Humphrey, MD, MACP
President of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation
Holly J. Humphrey, MD, MACP, is the eighth president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. She is a national leader in medical education.
Dr. Humphrey remains on the faculty of the Pritzker School of Medicine of The University of Chicago, where before moving to the Macy Foundation in 2018, she served as the Ralph W. Gerard Professor in Medicine and dean for Medical Education. In this role, she launched numerous programs to support and enhance the highest professional standards in the learning environment.
Dr. Humphrey is chair of the board of the new Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine. She is chair emeritus of both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, and a past president of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine (APDIM). She received the Dema C. Daley Founders Award from APDIM and was selected as a Master by the American College of Physicians. She received The University of Chicago’s Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award and has been chosen by Pritzker students more than 25 times as a favorite faculty teacher.
An honors graduate of Pritzker, Dr. Humphrey completed her internal medicine residency, her pulmonary and critical care fellowship and her chief residency at The University of Chicago.
2018 commencement address
David B. Nash, MD, MBA
Founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health (JCPH) of Thomas Jefferson University and the Dr. Raymond C. and Doris N. Grandon Professor of Health Policy in Philadelphia
Geisinger Commonwealth board of directors
David Nash, MD, MBA, is the founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health (JCPH) of Thomas Jefferson University and the Dr. Raymond C. and Doris N. Grandon Professor of Health Policy in Philadelphia. Dr. Nash is a board-certified internist who is internationally recognized for his work in outcomes management, medical staff development and quality-of-care improvement. He consults in the public and private sectors, chairing the Technical Advisory Group of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, and serving on the board of directors for Humana Inc. since December 2009. He writes a column on MedPage Today, has authored more than 100 articles in major journals, edited 23 books and is editor-in-chief of four major national journals including American Journal of Medical Quality, Population Health Management, P&T and American Health & Drug Benefits.
2017 MBS-Doylestown commencement address
Michael J. Sofia, PhD
Chief scientific officer and cofounder of Arbutus Biopharma Inc.
Michael J. Sofia, PhD, is currently chief scientific officer and cofounder of Arbutus Biopharma Inc., a company focused on the discovery and development of therapies to treat hepatitis B. He also holds a professorship at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and an adjunct professorship at the Drexel University School of Medicine.
Prior to his role at Arbutus Biopharma, Dr. Sofia was senior vice president of chemistry and senior advisor at Gilead Sciences and was senior vice president of chemistry at Pharmasset Inc. until Pharmasset’s acquisition by Gilead in January 2012.
Dr. Sofia previously held the positions of group director new leads chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb, vice president of research at Intercardia Research Laboratories (formerly Transcell Technologies) and research positions of increasing responsibility at Eli Lilly & Co. and at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research, E.R. Squibb.
Dr. Sofia did his postdoctoral training in synthetic organic chemistry as a National Institutes of Health fellow at Columbia University and received his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He earned his BA in chemistry from Cornell University.
Dr. Sofia has introduced numerous drugs into clinical development for the treatment of infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. He has authored more than 100 publications, 12 book chapters and numerous abstracts and is an inventor listed on more than 53 U.S. patents and numerous patent applications. He has been an invited speaker at more than 75 national and international conferences. He is the principal inventor of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi® and Harvoni®), currently marketed as a treatment for the cure of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Dr. Sofia is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2014 Pennsylvania Bio Scientific Achievement Award, the 2015 Heroes of Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society, Foreign Policy magazine’s 2014 Global Thinkers Award, The Economist magazine’s 2015 Innovation Award in Biosciences, the 2016 IUPAC-Richter Prize, the 2016 Lasker-Debakey Award in Clinical Medical Research and the 2017 Gertrude Elion Award from the International Society for Antiviral Research for his contributions to the discovery of a cure for HCV.
2017 commencement address
Deborah E. Powell, MD
Dean emerita and professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School
Abraham Flexner’s enduring legacy for medical education has been a steadfast commitment to improving medical education. The same can be said of Deborah E. Powell, MD, whose more than 40- year career has been spent championing competency-based medical education.
Today, Dr. Powell is dean emerita and professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where her innovative spirit is evident across the undergraduate medical program. At Minnesota, Dr. Powell instituted the medical school’s Flexible MD program, an individualized model of medical education designed to be more adaptable to students’ career and learning goals. She also has been engaged in interprofessional medical education for two decades and has shaped the national dialogue as well as educational practice in this area.
Dr. Powell served as chair of the AAMC Board of Directors in 2009-2010 and was the first female chair of the AAMC Council of Deans in 2004. Dr. Powell has been actively involved with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) for 15 years and now serves as a member of the LCME Council. She is a past board member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, and serves as a member of the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation of the U.S. Department of Education.
As founding co-sponsor of the AAMC project Education in Pediatrics Across the Continuum (EPAC), Dr. Powell has extended her work on competency-based medical education to the national level. EPAC will test a new model of medical education by which students will advance through the program as they master competencies, rather than through the traditional, fixed-time model. “This pilot lays the groundwork for a true competency-based continuum of medical education and thus holds the potential of being truly transformative,” says Dr. Carol Carraccio, vice president for competency-based assessment at the American Board of Pediatrics.
Before arriving in Minnesota, Dr. Powell served as executive dean and vice chancellor for clinical affairs at the University of Kansas School of Medicine (KU). There, she started a professionalism initiative that led to the establishment of an award that now bears her name and is given to a graduating medical student who demonstrates the level of humanism and professionalism exhibited by Dr. Powell. She was inducted into the KU Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002 for her research on issues related to women’s health.
Dr. Powell previously served as chair and professor of pathology of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, where she was instrumental in developing the Kentucky Medical Curriculum and was awarded three Golden Apple Awards for teaching excellence in four years. A leader in the pathology field, Dr. Powell is past president of the American Board of Pathology and the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, and past chair of the ACGME Residency Review Committee for Pathology.
Dr. Powell received her BA degree from the former Radcliffe College of Harvard University, and her MD degree from Tufts University School of Medicine.
2016 commencement address
Thomas J. Nasca, MD, MACP
Chief executive officer, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and chief executive officer of ACGME International; professor of medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics, Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University; senior scholar of the Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago
Dr. Nasca graduated from the University of Notre Dame with High Honors, is an Alpha Omega Alpha graduate of Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel Medical College) of Thomas Jefferson University.
Immediately prior to assuming the leadership of the ACGME in December 2007, Dr. Nasca served as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of Thomas Jefferson University, the Anthony and Gertrude DePalma Dean of Jefferson Medical College, and President of Jefferson University Physicians. In May, 2009 Dr. Nasca became the founding President of ACGME International, LLC.
Dr. Nasca is board certified in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. Dr. Nasca has been a member and leader of a wide array of organizations whose mission is the advancement of excellence in medical education. Dr. Nasca was elected to Mastership by the American College of Physicians in 2006, received the Dema C. Daley Founders Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine Education from the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, the Rev. Clarence Shaffrey, S.J. Award from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, the John C. Leonard Award from the Association of Hospital Medical Education, and the Jefferson Medical College Alumni Achievement Award. He was named one of the 50 most powerful/influential physician executives in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 by Modern Healthcare, and most recently received Honorary Doctoral Degrees from the University of Toledo and Wake Forest University. He is the author of over 160 peer reviewed articles, chapters, and other publications, and has delivered over 400 invited lectures on topics related to medical education.
2015 commencement address
Darrell G. Kirch, MD
President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
Dr. Darrell G. Kirch is president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which represents the nation’s medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies. A member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Dr. Kirch is a distinguished physician, educator, and medical researcher.
Prior to becoming AAMC president in 2006, Dr. Kirch served for six years as senior vice president for health affairs, dean of the college of medicine, and CEO of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at The Pennsylvania State University. Before joining Penn State, Dr. Kirch served as dean and senior vice president for clinical activities at the Medical College of Georgia from 1994 to 2000. In addition to these leadership roles, he also co-chaired the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting body for U.S. medical schools, and he now serves as a member-at-large of the National Board of Medical Examiners and on the board of directors of Research!America.
A psychiatrist and clinical neuroscientist by training, Dr. Kirch began his career at the National Institute of Mental Health, becoming the acting scientific director of the institute in 1993 and receiving the Outstanding Service Medal of the United States Public Health Service. A native of Denver, he earned his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Colorado, which in 2002 recognized him with its Silver and Gold Alumni Award.
2014 commencement address
Fitzhugh Mullan, MD
Murdock head professor of medicine and health policy professor of pediatrics, The George Washington University
Dr. Mullan is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Medical School and is board certified in pediatrics. He served 23 years in the United States Public Health Service, starting as a physician in the National Health Service Corps and later as director of the program. He subsequently worked at the NIH, served on the staff of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, directed the Bureau of Health Professions, and attained the rank of Assistant Surgeon General. He also served as Secretary of Health and Environment for the State of New Mexico, as a member of the Council on Graduate Medical Education, and on the President’s Task Force on Health Care Reform. His research and policy work focus on US and international health workforce issues. His US work includes the W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded Beyond Flexner Study and the Josiah Macy Jr. funded Medical Education Futures Study. He is the principal investigator of the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Coordinating Center. He previously served as principal investigator of the Gates Foundation funded Sub-Saharan African Medical School Study (SAMSS). He has written widely for professional and general audiences. His books include White Coat, Clenched Fist: The Political Education of an American Physician and Big Doctoring: Profiles in Primary Care. He is an appointed commissioner of the National Health Care Workforce Commission, the founding board chair of Seed Global Health, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
2013 Charter Class commencement address
George E. Thibault, MD
President, Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation
George E. Thibault, MD became the seventh president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation in January 2008. Immediately prior to that, he served as vice president of clinical affairs at Partners Healthcare System in Boston and director of the academy at Harvard Medical School (HMS). He was the first Daniel D. Federman Professor of Medicine and Medical Education at HMS and is now the Federman Professor, Emeritus
Dr. Thibault previously served as chief medical officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as chief of medicine at the Harvard-affiliated Brockton/West Roxbury VA Hospital. He was associate chief of medicine and director of the Internal Medical Residency Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). At the MGH he also served as director of the Medical ICU and the founding director of the Medical Practice Evaluation Unit.
For nearly four decades at HMS, Dr. Thibault played leadership roles in many aspects of undergraduate and graduate medical education. He played a central role in the New Pathway Curriculum reform and was a leader in the new Integrated Curriculum reform at HMS. He was the Founding Director of the Academy at HMS, which was created to recognize outstanding teachers and to promote innovations in medical education. Throughout his career he has been recognized for his roles in teaching and mentoring medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty. In addition to his teaching, his research has focused on the evaluation of practices and outcomes of medical intensive care and variations in the use of cardiac technologies.
Dr. Thibault is Chairman of the Board of the MGH Institute of Health Professions, and he serves on the board of the New York Academy of Sciences, the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, and the Lebanese American University. He serves on the President’s White House Fellows Commission and for twelve years he chaired the Special Medical Advisory Group for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. He is past president of the Harvard Medical Alumni Association and past chair of Alumni Relations at HMS. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Thibault graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University in 1965 and magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1969. He completed his internship and residency in medicine and fellowship in cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He also trained in cardiology at the National Heart and Lung Institute in Bethesda and at Guys Hospital in London, and served as chief resident in Medicine at MGH.
Dr. Thibault has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors from Georgetown (Ryan Prize in Philosophy, Alumni Prize, and Cohongaroton Speaker) and Harvard (Alpha Omega Alpha, Henry Asbury Christian Award and Society of Fellows). He has been a visiting scholar both at the Institute of Medicine and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a visiting professor of medicine at numerous medical schools in the U.S. and abroad.
Learn more about the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.
2012 commencement address
Keith W. Eckel
Owner, Fred W. Eckels Sons and president, Eckel Farms Inc.
Keith W. Eckel is owner of Fred W. Eckel Sons and president of Eckel Farms Inc., in Clarks Summit, Pa. Mr. Eckel was elected to the board of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, parent company of the Nationwide organization, in 1996 and has served as board chairman since April 2008. He is former board chairman of Gartmore Global Asset Management Trust and Allied Group, Inc., and is former director of Nationwide Financial Services, Inc.
Mr. Eckel is a trustee of Pennsylvania State University. He is a former board member of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board, and the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. He is a former president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, a position he held for 15 years, and the Lackawanna County Cooperative Extension Association. Mr. Eckel has served as a board member and executive committee member of the American Farm Bureau Federation and is a former vice president of the Pennsylvania Council of Cooperative Extension Associations. He received the Master Farmer award from Penn State University in 1982 and the American Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award in 2009.
Born in Scranton, Mr. Eckel is a graduate of Newton-Ransom High School in Clarks Summit and attended Keystone Junior College, Dickinson College and Pennsylvania State University. Mr. Eckel is a member and past lay leader of Bethel United Methodist Church.
2011 commencement address
Former president and CEO, Sanofi Pasteur
Wayne F. Pisano is the former president and chief executive officer of Sanofi Pasteur. Sanofi Pasteur, the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines, employs more than 14,000 people in more than 100 countries and supplies around one quarter of the world’s vaccines every year. The company is headquartered in Lyon, France, and has major operations in Swiftwater, PA; Toronto, Canada; as well as Marcy L’Etoile and Val de Reuil, France.
Pisano joined Sanofi Pasteur as vice president, U.S. marketing in 1997 and held positions of increasing responsibility including head of global commercial operations and corporate strategy. Pisano is credited with Sanofi Pasteur’s leading worldwide role in the influenza vaccine market with approximately 50 percent of global sales. Following Wayne’s entry into the company, Sanofi Pasteur strengthened its position as the world leader in the vaccine industry, offering a broad range of vaccines that protect against 20 infectious diseases.
Along with leading the development and implementation of Sanofi Pasteur’s commercial strategy, Pisano focused Sanofi Pasteur’s research and development (R&D) strategy and pipeline on identifying and furthering vaccines to protect against diseases that impact both developed and developing nations equally.
Pisano holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from St. John Fisher College, Rochester, New York, and an MBA from the University of Dayton, Ohio. He is married with three children.
2010 inaugural commencement address
Edward G. Rendell
Governor of Pennsylvania
Edward G. Rendell, Pennsylvania’s 45th governor, began a second term of office on Jan. 16, 2007, following a landslide re-election victory. As governor, Rendell served as chief executive of the nation’s sixth-most-populous state and oversaw a $28.3 billion budget. Gov. Rendell’s unprecedented strategic investments energized Pennsylvania’s economy, revitalized communities, improved education, protected the environment and expanded access to healthcare to all children and affordable prescription drugs for older adults. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offered very strong support to The Commonwealth Medical College, now Geisinger Commonwealth. In addition to operational support, Gov. Rendell announced in the fall of 2006 a $35 million capital grant to partially fund the construction of the school’s Medical Sciences Building. The former governor, who served as general chair of the Democratic National Committee during the 2000 Presidential election, has always been active in the community through a variety of memberships on boards, and also teaches government and politics courses at the University of Pennsylvania.
An Army veteran, the governor is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 1965) and Villanova Law School (J.D. 1968). The former governor and his wife, Marjorie O. Rendell, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, have a son, Jesse. They celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary on July 10, 2009.