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Deckers urges community to give to student fund

by John Sponauer - June 2, 2008


Dr. Peter J. Deckers steps down this month from his positions as executive vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center and dean of the School of Medicine.

During his more than 20 years in Farmington, all in top leadership positions, Deckers has enabled the Health Center to become a leader in innovative and responsive undergraduate and graduate medical education; introduced and expanded regional clinical services, including cancer, cardiology, and musculoskeletal care and research; and cemented the institution’s dedication to its core missions of biomedical education, basic science research, health care delivery, and public service.

In response to many requests to create a fund in his honor, Deckers and his wife Barbara have requested that donors contribute to the academic enhancement fund the couple established in 2000, the Peter J. and Barbara A. Deckers Student Academic Enhancement Endowment Fund.

Deckers is deeply committed to making medical education affordable and accessible to students who have the aptitude and desire, but not the full financial means, to thrive in medical school.

After more than 40 years of experience teaching and working with students, he sees a sharp contrast between his own education and what most students experience today, even at public universities such as UConn.

“When I went to medical school,” he says, “I could earn through summer employment what my tuition and fees would be for the next two semesters. Today, no student can manage financially to get through medical school like that, especially if they’re doing it on their own.”

The Deckers Fund also supports student research projects during any of the four years of medical school.

“Becoming involved in research turns students on to the potential and promise of academic medicine, and combines top-flight clinical care with a continuous interest in discovery,” says Deckers.

“It allows them to basically do what I’ve done throughout my career – integrate education, research, and clinical care into one professional path. The higher the level of intellectual curiosity you can create in a medical system, the better the care will be.”

Since it was established, the Deckers Fund has also provided other benefits to medical students, from advanced technology in the classroom to the opportunity for students to showcase their research on a national level.

Deckers says that during his career as academic, clinician, and administrator, he has witnessed a sea change both in the practical world and the theoretical possibilities of medicine.

He predicts that prevention, electronic education and learning, and technology will feature prominently in the future.

For information about the Deckers Fund, contact Wendy Lux at 860.679.6032 or wlux@foundation.uconn.edu

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