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  April 22, 2002

'Green Auditorium' to Bear Name
of Health Center's Founding Father
By Pat Keefe

The Green Auditorium, the classroom where first-year students obtain their introduction to medical and dental school, is going to be named in honor of Dr. John Patterson, the Health Center's first executive director and the second dean of the School of Medicine.

The naming will take place during a ceremony at the Health Center May 17.

Robert Jungas, professor of physiology, had the idea and suggested it to Peter Deckers, Health Center executive vice president.

"I looked around the Health Center and I saw buildings and streets named for individuals, and I noticed that John Patterson was not recognized in any way. He is the founding father of the Health Center in a very real sense, and it's high time we took note of it," says Jungas. "Dr. Deckers approved the idea and I'm just delighted. No one is more deserving than Dr. Patterson."

Patterson, retired and living in Storrs, says he is honored. "I'm glad they still think of me," he says.

Patterson says many people were significant in the establishment of the Health Center, but three were especially important: Gov. John Dempsey and presidents Babbidge and Jorgensen.

"I think all the way back to before the Health Center started, Gov. Dempsey and his contributions were vital," Patterson says, "and Babbidge played an important part."

A committee Jorgensen had originally put together obtained some grant money from a benefactor, and the brain-storming for a state medical school was on.

"That committee gave us some direction of where we should go," Patterson says.

Dr. Sherwin Cooperstein, one of the original members of the Health Center Planning Group and a colleague of Patterson in the early days, remarks that naming the auditorium after Patterson is particularly appropriate.

The original architects' plans called for the auditorium to face the academic entrance. Situated thus, a student entering class late would enter into the front of the auditorium and could disrupt the whole class.

"Dr. Patterson and I had experienced a similar arrangement in our former jobs and it was bad news," says Cooperstein. "Reorienting the auditorium interfered with the architect's idea of symmetry, so they were worried. I don't know how much time John put in on this, but since he was in charge, I assume he did the work that resulted in the auditorium being built the way it is."

Forty years on, students sneaking into class late with only the instructor seeing them, have Dr. Patterson to thank.

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