PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Vincent Mor and Julie Strandberg, two longtime Brown faculty members who are accomplished scholars and educators, were awarded Susan Colver Rosenberger Medals of Honor during the University’s 253rd Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 2.
The medal is the highest honor the Brown University faculty can bestow, having been awarded just 33 times since its establishment in 1919. Among the past honorees are Nobel laureates, University presidents and chancellors, pioneering Brown faculty and esteemed public servants.
Faculty Executive Committee Chair Johanna Hanink, an associate professor of classics, presented the medals to Mor, a professor of health services, policy and practice, and Strandberg, a distinguished senior lecturer in theatre arts and performance studies, and read citations on behalf of the full Brown faculty.
Mor was recognized for the “stunning impact” of his service, leadership and research over four decades at Brown, as well as for his devotion to the health and well-being of individuals and to the public good. In citing his contributions to the University, the faculty noted his role in envisioning and helping to launch Brown’s School of Public Health and then described another dimension of his influence:
“Professional success has always been matched, or perhaps even eclipsed, by the lasting impact recounted through so many personal anecdotes — about an act of kindness, about generosity with your time as a colleague and mentor, about your infectious enthusiasm and commitment to instilling others with the confidence to succeed,” Hanink read from the citation.
Mor joined Brown in 1981 as an assistant professor in what was then the Department of Community Health. From 1996 to 2010, he served as the fifth and last chair of that department, helping to build the infrastructure for what would eventually serve as the foundation for the School of Public Health. A longtime advocate for vulnerable elders, Mor directed the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research at Brown for 10 years, and he has been principal investigator of more than 40 National Institutes of Health-funded grants focused on the uses and outcomes of health services by frail and chronically ill people. He is the co-leader of a collaborative research incubator to support trials across the nation aimed at improving care for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in recognition of the urgency of his research, Mor and his team were awarded a supplemental grant to identify and monitor the adverse health impacts of COVID-19 vaccination in elderly nursing home residents.
Mor said before Sunday’s ceremony that it’s a deep honor to receive the award with Strandberg and hopes that their separate efforts at building significant programs at Brown will have lasting value: “What we’ve built, in our respective fields, lays the groundwork for future scholarship and societal improvement,” he said.
He also said that feelings of gratitude upon learning of the Rosenberger Medal were tempered by bittersweetness, as he reflected on the loss of his mentor, Dr. David Greer, a gerontologist and former dean of Brown’s medical school who died in 2014.
“Dave brought me to Brown, and for me, he embodied the spirit of the Rosenberger award,” Mor said. “So there’s a bit of loneliness around the fact that he’s not here today to share this moment with me.”
In awarding Strandberg, who founded the University’s dance program a half-century ago, the faculty cited her tireless community engagement efforts and willingness to transcend traditional boundaries in teaching.
“It is your work as teacher, artist, scholar, and your ongoing engagement with the community, that rises to the level of exceptional,” Hanink read from the citation. “For over 50 years, you have epitomized the mission of Brown University and remained an example of individuality, exploration and integration of knowledge across disciplines. You have provided students with meaningful, formative and influential experiences, and they have carried those lessons into all walks of life.”