76th Annual Postgraduate Convention leaves notable legacy of spiritual mission and scientific excellence
The talented singers and instrumentalists of the California Baptist University Mens Chorus dazzled visitors to the 76th Annual Postgraduate Convention on Friday, February 29.
The tents are gone; the visitors, lecturers, vendors, and media have all returned home; but the classrooms, dining rooms, lecture halls, and churches of Loma Linda University are still reverberating with the buzz of the biggest event to hit town so far this year—the 76th Annual Postgraduate Convention of the LLU School of Medicine Alumni Association.
From the moment the event opened with the 20th Annual Cardiology Symposium at high noon on Wednesday, February 27, 2008, until the final candle flickered out at the APC banquet sometime after 9:30 p.m. on Monday, March 3, the convention offered a bonanza of educational, spiritual, and social opportunities second-to-none.
There was always something going on somewhere throughout the six days of the convention as worship services called attention to the centrality of mission to the School of Medicine, lectures by world-renowned medical authorities highlighted medicine’s current hot topics, and roundtable luncheons featured the latest tactics against disease. If anything, there was too much to see and not enough time for all the class reunions, scientific poster sessions, self-guided art tours, and a plethora of technical exhibits at “the plaza,” a temporary tent structure between the Medical Center and Coleman Pavilion.
According to Ath Tuot, records manager for the School of Medicine Alumni Association, an estimated total of more than 2,000 people attended the convention, including individuals who pa
Richard Weismeyer (left), director, University relations, receives the Iner Sheld-Ritchie Presidential Award.
rticipated in continuing medical education classes—there were approximately 200 opportunities to earn credits throughout the convention—as well as people who perused the exhibitions and attended worship services, class reunions, and other informal meetings.
The spiritual emphasis of the APC was evident throughout the event. Beginning with the Friday evening vespers and continuing through the Saturday night program at the Loma Linda University Church, religious services for the weekend featured passionate musical performances from the California Baptist University Male Chorus, The King’s Brass, and Diane King Susek, as well as talented performers from the School of Medicine and its Alumni Association. The theological content of the services focused on the need for contemporary Christians to respond to the mission call of Christ to take the Gospel to all the world. Some of the most inspiring moments of the APC came as students who have served a stint in mission service overseas joined LLU chancellor—and, at the time, as-yet-to-be-inaugurated president—Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, in sharing their stories of encountering the enormous needs of people living in medically underserved cultures of the world.
The oft-restated emphasis on mission served as the central unifying insight of the convention. It was underscored in numerous programs throughout the weekend and left a large and very positive imprint on everyone who attended.
“I think that over th
Vendor Jeff Hedrick of OneLegacy and Takkin Lo, MD, of Loma Linda University Medical Center, admire the trophy OneLegacy—a transplant donor network—recently awarded to the Medical Center for championing the cause of organ donation in Southern California.
e last few years there has been an increasing sense that Loma Linda is back,” Dr. Hart articulated after the convention. “Our emphasis on mission and service is central to what we do, and the alumni enjoy coming back and seeing that. In general, there is a renewed sense that Loma Linda has refocused on mission and that is very gratifying to them.”
The Alumni Association of the School of Medicine called attention to six individuals noted for their commitment to medical excellence and Christian service as its 2008 honored alumni. They are, in alphabetical order, Jeffrey D. Cao, ’71; Elvin C. Gaines, ’61; Peggy Fritsche, ’66; Herald A. Habenicht, ’58; Stewart W. Shankel, ’58; and Roger Van Arsdell, ’60. Dr. Fritsche was revealed as the “Alumnus of the Year 2008” during the APC banquet on Monday night at the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario. She is a diagnostic radiologist who served at LLU Medical Center and Riverside MRI Center for many years. In speaking of her contributions, Dr. Hart noted that “Peggy has been very active in the academic world, and in publishing, and has carried leadership in a number of professional organizations in her discipline.”
The absence of the late Thomas J. Zirkle, MD—who was serving as chair of the APC governing board at the time of his death on January 11, 2008—added a tinge of melancholy to the convention. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Zirkle cast a very long shadow over not just Loma Linda University and the Inland Empire, but also the world through his involvements in medical education, community fire safety, and global Christian broadcasting on LLBN. A special notice in the APC bulletin stated: “The alumni association is grateful to the late Thomas J. Zirkle, ’62, for his tireless efforts over the years in shepherding the annual APC scientific program through the scientific accreditation process.” Dr. Zirkle was succeeded as chair by Robert E. Soderblom, MD.
By James Ponder