The Tools for Success

Gerard Gaughan is championing students underrepresented in medicine.
Gerald Gaughan and Joyce Sackey

Gerard Gaughan and Joyce Sackey, the inaugural Dr. Jane Murphy Gaughan Professor.

The more diversity we can bring into highly competitive and respected fields like medicine, the better it is for all of us,” said cardiologist Gerard Gaughan, M71. His latest gift to the School of Medicine, which creates the Dr. Jane Murphy Gaughan Professorship in honor of his late wife, and the Gerard L. Gaughan, M.D., M71, and Jane Murphy Gaughan, Ed.D. Student Success Fund, will do just that. The university will partly match this commitment through the Professorship Partnership Challenge.

The Gaughans have long championed diversity at the medical school, funding the Tufts University School of Medicine/UMass Boston Enrichment Program since its inception in 2013. Each January, about 25 premedical and pre-Ph.D. research students from the University of Massachusetts Boston spend three weeks at the School of Medicine, participating in seminars, shadowing clinicians, and gaining exposure to a range of careers. Some of these undergrads are later accepted to the medical school.

“It’s a very tangible demonstration of the School of Medicine’s commitment to diversity, because UMass Boston is the most diverse campus in the area,” said Gaughan, who serves on the School of Medicine’s admissions committee and as an advisor to first-year students, as well as on the Board of Visitors at UMass Boston. “Of all the causes we supported financially, this was the one that Jane was most pleased with.”

Expanding or creating pipeline programs is just one way the school may use the new Student Success Fund. As the inaugural Dr. Jane Murphy Gaughan Professor—granted to the physician leader responsible for diversity initiatives at the medical school—Joyce Sackey will oversee how and where the money is spent in consultation with Dean Harris Berman. “Diversifying the physician workforce is one of the ways to help solve the problem of health-care disparities or inequities in health outcomes,” said Sackey, dean for multicultural affairs and global health and an associate professor at the medical school, as well as the associate provost and chief diversity officer for Tufts’ health sciences schools. “It is true that graduates from places that are underserved are more likely to return to those communities. It’s not just talk; they walk the walk.”

“This is why we think it is so critically important to not only attract students from these communities,” she continued, “but also give them the tools they need to be successful as students.” These tools could include scholarships, tutoring, career counseling, internships, mentored research projects, review courses for standardized exams, and more. “The Student Success Fund is going to allow us to not wait for people to fail but be more preemptive about identifying those students who’ve come from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and provide them with the additional academic support they need,” Sackey said. “We can take things to the next level.” Another way the money could be used, she said, is for recruitment: “Are there ways, beyond the TUSM/UMass Boston Enrichment Program, that we can be more aggressive and overt in reaching out to institutions with diverse student bodies?”

Sackey said that being named the first Dr. Jane Murphy Gaughan Professor is an incredible honor. “It’s actually overwhelming when I think about it,” she said. “Knowing the deep commitment to diversity that Jane shared with Gerry, it’s very meaningful to me that I get to hold a professorship established in her memory.”

Jane, who passed away last December, met Sackey only once, but “was a very astute judge of character and of people,” Gaughan said. “Jane concluded based on that one meeting that Joyce was someone she wanted to support. From a professional perspective, Joyce is everything I could ask for in someone who has a professorship named after my wife.”