Presented with the occasion to join Worcester State College in honoring Worcester’s Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Leonard Morse, more than 150 friends, family members, and colleagues gathered Sunday, May 4 in the Student Center, Blue Lounge for the 14th annual Scholarship Tea. The event raised a record of over $23,000 in scholarship aid.
“This is a milestone, a tremendous accomplishment, and a fantastic and fitting tribute to our honoree, Dr. Morse,” said Camilla Caffrey, assistant vice president of Institutional Advancement.
True to his unassuming nature, Morse accepted this recognition with humor and heartfelt sincerity. He said that recognition by the Scholarship Tea Committee made him feel like a molecule that absorbs so much fluid it bursts.
“I was born a mile from here, at Fairlawn Hospital, and I live one mile from here. So I haven’t gone very far,” he said.
Morse said his connection to WSC began long before former WSC President Kalyan Ghosh asked him to be a charter member of the Worcester State Foundation Board. He was a participant in a College program when he was a teenager, and in 1986, he received the College’s Community Service Medallion.
Student scholarships are very important, Morse said, pointing out that many medical school students have an average debt of $150,000 upon graduation. “No gift is too small,” he said.
President Ashley said, “Dr. Morse has been a leader on our campus for many years and a strong advocate for our scholarship program.”
Jill Dagilis, executive director of the Worcester Community Action Council and a Worcester State Foundation Board member, told the audience that behind Morse’s “kind, gentle exterior” is a man with “superhuman strength” who is “passionate and laser-focused on public health issues.”
Before presenting Morse with a key to the city, Worcester Mayor Konstantina Lukes told the audience that one of his myriad notable achievements happened in the city nearly 40 years ago. It was Morse who discovered the cause of the College of the Holy Cross 1969 football team’s hepatitis A outbreak, she said. “He makes it a habit to serve the city,” she said.
“The Scholarship Tea has played a long and honorable role in the history of the College, constituting a direct link to the Worcester State of the past, and serving as both a guide and inspiration to the greatly enhanced scholarship program of today,” Caffrey said.
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