Research Bench Lab

About MCW

Honorary Degree Recipients

2019 Recipients

Virginia K. (Ginny) Bolger | Doctor of Humanities

Ginny BolgerAs “first lady” of the Medical College of Wisconsin for 20 years, Virginia (Ginny) Bolger was an active contributor to enhancing the institution’s missions and legacy. During the two decades that her late husband, T. Michael Bolger, JD, served as President and Chief Executive Officer of MCW (1990-2010), Mrs. Bolger was an ambassador for the institution, traveling around the country for alumni dinners, the annual clinical conference and myriad fundraising events.

She is a founding member of MCW’s Women in Science program and, as a member of the Cancer Center Advisory Board since 1995, actively participates in increasing awareness and financial support of the Center. During Mrs. Bolger’s tenure as President of the Friends of the Medical College of Wisconsin, the organization raised the largest amount from a single event in its history to increase the endowment that focuses on medical and graduate student scholarships. In 2010, in recognition of her important contributions to strengthen ties with the MCW’s alumni, Mrs. Bolger was named an Honorary Alumna by the MCW/Marquette Medical Alumni Association.

As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Mrs. Bolger has helped guide others through diagnosis and treatment – often leading them to care at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network – and is an active mentor for the ABCD, a breast cancer support group. A dedicated and enthusiastic philanthropist for MCW, Mrs. Bolger has been extremely effective n encouraging donations to MCW’s cancer research programs and in helping steward major donors, and was a major fundraiser for the inaugural Cancer Crush in 2018 to support cancer research at MCW. Additionally, she established the Virginia K. and T. Michael Bolger Cancer Research Fellowship Fund and supported her husband in the establishment of the T. Michael Bolger Endowed Parkinson’s Disease Research Fund at MCW.

Mrs. Bolger has worked on the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse Board and remains very active in the community, particularly concerning environmental issues. She has served on the City of Mequon Park Board and the Mequon Preservation of Rural Open Space Commission, and is a Trustee Emerita of both the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy. She was a volunteer-teacher-naturalist and a board member of the Riveredge Nature Center. She was a charter member of the Ozaukee Land Trust, of which she also served as President during the Trust’s merger with Washington County. Mrs. Bolger has been a member of the Marquette University Women’s Council since 1990. In 2004, the Bolgers were recognized by COA Youth & Family Centers as Parents of the Year. Mrs. Bolger and her husband received the Warren P. Knowles Humanitarian Award from the MCW Digestive Disease Center in 2010, in recognition of their dedication to public service and education.

Mrs. Bolger graduated from the University of Florida and taught junior high school English in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida., before moving to New York and Chicago, where she worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines. Friends since childhood, the Bolgers celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on August 24, 2018 – shortly before Mike’s passing on November 29, 2018. They have a son, John Michael (Kerry) and a daughter, Jennifer Bolger Breceda (Enrique), and four grandsons.

Robert David (Bob) Curry | Doctor of Humanities

Robert Curry, circa 1970As a Vietnam veteran, Milwaukee native Robert (Bob) Curry saw the opportunity to help out a new generation of soldiers when the Afghanistan War and War in Iraq began. In 2008, he founded Dryhootch of America, a non-profit organization with the goal to give veterans a safe, alcohol-free, drug-free environment to deal with the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) they might be feeling after returning home. The idea revolved around the creation of a retail coffee shop run by and for veterans, which also would support an extended network of veterans’ families and encourage veteran interaction with the community as a whole.

“Hootch” is military jargon for a hut or safe place to sleep during combat. The term “dry” denotes the organization’s mission to provide a social gathering place for veterans that is free of alcohol – one of the major problems plaguing veterans of all eras. To that end, the concept behind Dryhootch was to “help veterans who survived the war, survive the peace.” Over the past decade, Dryhootch has served thousands of US military veterans through veteran-to-veteran peer support, and grown to include locations in Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Lake County (Illinois), Atlanta and Mobile, Alabama.

Mr. Curry sought support from faculty members at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Zablocki VA Medical Center early in the process of founding Dryhootch, and through these partnerships has been awarded funding from the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Clinical and Translational Institute of Southeast Wisconsin, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Bob Woodruff Foundation and numerous other sources. His efforts have resulted in several million dollars of investment in innovative, community-driven veteran services, including peer mentor training materials designed by and tailored for veterans, support for the Milwaukee County Veteran Treatment Court program and a mobile mental health support app developed in collaboration with MCW and Marquette University. He also collaborates with faculty at MCW, Marquette, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Zablocki VA through the Dryhootch Community-Academic Partnership for Veteran Health, which has resulted in a number of peer reviewed publications and presentations.

Prior to forming Dryhootch, Mr. Curry served with the US Army from 1969-1972 as co-pilot of an OV-1 Grumman Mohawk, flying more than 250 combat missions for reconnaissance and hunter killer teams in Vietnam and Laos with Top Secret Clearance. After his military service, he had a 30-year career in mid-level technology management for firms such as IBM and AT&T. In 2003, he was diagnosed by the Veterans Administration as 100% Permanently Disabled from combat for PTSD.

Mr. Curry was recognized by the White House in May 2012 as a Champion of Courage for his innovative work in founding Dryhootch. He serves as a member of the US Department of Veteran Affairs Round Table on NGO partnerships and on the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board.

Lisa Grill Dodson | Doctor of Medical Science

Lisa Grill Dodson, MDLisa Grill Dodson, MD, joined the Medical College of Wisconsin as Founding Dean for the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin in August 2014. Dr. Dodson provides overall leadership and management of MCW’s regional medical school campus in Central Wisconsin and serves as the primary liaison for our health system, academic and community partners in that locale, as well as with MCW’s Milwaukee campus.

Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Dodson was Director of the Oregon Area Health Education Center and Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Dr. Dodson advocates for innovation in both medical education and care delivery to ensure the availability of high-quality care to rural and other non-urban populations. Her leadership has been recognized by the receipt of several awards, including the Oregon Family Physician of the Year in 2009 and the MCW President’s Community Engagement Award in 2017.

Thomas Kunkel | Doctor of Humane Letters

Thomas KunkelThomas Kunkel is president emeritus of St. Norbert College, a nationally ranked and esteemed Catholic institution in De Pere, Wisconsin. He served as president of St. Norbert from 2008 until his retirement in 2017.

During his tenure Kunkel oversaw numerous academic innovations (including the partnership with MCW-Green Bay), increased enrollment and improved student and faculty diversity. He raised more than $150 million, much of which went for new and renovated campus infrastructure—including $43 million to build and equip the state-of-the-art Gehl Mulva Science Center, which is home to MCW-Green Bay.

He is the author or editor of seven books, the most recent of which is Man on Fire: The Life and Spirit of Norbert of Xanten, which has just been published.

Prior to his time at St. Norbert, Kunkel was dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. There he also served as president of American Journalism Review, a national magazine published by the college.

His previous books include Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker, published by Random House in 2015 to wide acclaim and winner of the prestigious Sperber Prize for best books about media. His first book was Genius in Disguise, a biography of New Yorker founding editor Harold Ross and a New York Times Notable Book of 1995. Three years later he published Enormous Prayers: A Journey into the Priesthood, an ethnographic portrait of 28 Catholic priests.

As a journalist Kunkel worked for the Miami Herald, New York Times, San Jose Mercury News and other publications. When he was named executive editor of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer, at age 29, he became the youngest top editor in the history of Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

Kunkel was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana. He and his wife, Debra, have four grown daughters and five grandchildren.

Bruce (BJ) Miller | Doctor of Medical Science
BJ Miller, MD

Dr. BJ Miller is a longtime hospice & palliative care physician and educator. He’s been on faculty at his alma mater, UCSF, since 2007, where he’s worked in all settings of care: hospital, clinic, residential facility, and home. He now sees patients and families at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Miller’s interests are in working across disciplines to affect broad-based culture change and in cultivating a civic model for aging and dying. He invites us to think about and discuss the end of our lives through the lens of a mindful, human-centered model of care, one that embraces dying not as a medical event but rather as a universally shared life experience. For his work, he has been featured as an invited speaker to numerous events including the 2015 TED conference, and has been the subject of multiple interviews and podcasts including Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, the New York Times and Krista Tippett.

Informed by his own experiences as a patient, Dr. Miller powerfully advocates the roles of our senses, community and presence in designing a better ending. He brings a unique blend of training, experience and commitment to furthering the message that suffering and dying are fundamental and intrinsic aspects of life and is widely recognized for his efforts in cultivating a larger dialogue about this universal human experience.

Dr. Miller speaks nationally and internationally, on the intersection of perspective making, aesthetics, design and palliative care, and serves in leadership capacities at the national level. He sits on the board of directors for the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care and also advises numerous organizations ranging from for-profit and non-profit enterprises to policy lobbies to academic research centers.

Following undergraduate studies in art history at Princeton, Dr. Miller received his MD from University of California San Francisco as a Regents' Scholar and completed his internal medicine residency at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California, where he served as chief resident. He completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at Harvard Medical School, with clinical duties split between Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Dr. Miller completed an internship in internal medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2003.

Stephen A. Roell and Dr. Shelagh M. Roell | Doctor of Humanities
Stephen A. Roell and Dr. Shelagh M. Roell

Stephen and Dr. Shelagh Roell have been pillars of the Milwaukee community for decades. They are long-time philanthropists and champions of higher education, equitable healthcare, community service, innovation and more, and have given generously of their time, expertise and resources to better the region.

Mr. Roell earned a BA in accounting from St. Ambrose University in 1971. In 1982 he joined Johnson Controls Inc., a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries. He was elected Chief Executive Officer in 2007, Chair of the Board in 2008 and President in 2009. Mr. Roell retired from Johnson Controls in 2013.

Dr. Shelagh Roell holds an MS in nursing education and earned a PhD in educational psychology from Marquette University in 1982. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and served as a tenured Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Nursing in the 1980s.

The Roells have a strong commitment to the Milwaukee community and education. Mr. Roell served as a member of the Medical College of Wisconsin Board of Trustees from 2008-2018, during which he held many leadership roles, including Chair (2016-2018). Additionally, he has served as a Director of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and as a member of the board of directors of the Hunger Task Force and the Board of Trustees of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. Mr. Roell currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Kern Family Foundation and the Board of Trustees for St. Ambrose University. Dr. Roell served for more than ten years on the board of Bethany Christian Services, an adoption and family services organization, and has held volunteer leadership roles with LifeStriders and St. John Vianney Church.

In 2010, the Roells were recognized by COA Youth & Family Centers as Parents of the Year, and in 2013 they received the St. Francis Children’s Center Humanitarian Award.

Because of their deep commitment to education and innovation, the Roells provided a generous gift to MCW to establish the Stephen and Shelagh Roell Endowed Chair of the Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education, and they participate frequently in Institute lectures and discussions. They have served as mentors to many and exemplify medical education’s Triple Aim of character, competence and caring.

Among many other generous philanthropic gifts to educational institutions, the Roells created the Stephen and Shelagh Roell Scholarship for students enrolled in the Lubar School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and provided major support for the Wellness Center at St. Ambrose University. They also are longstanding donors to the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, United Performing Arts Fund, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Waukesha Catholic Memorial High School, and many other charitable, arts-related and civic organizations.

2018 Recipients

Sharon & Larry Adams | Doctor of Humanities


Since 2000, Sharon and Larry Adams have been committed to renovating a 110-block area of central- city Milwaukee, and their efforts have led to the rebuilding or restoration of more than 100 homes and the transformation of more than 20 lots into gardens or green spaces. Their efforts also led to more than $26 million in real estate investment and more than $125 million in commercial projects in the 53205 and 53206 ZIP codes.

The couple founded Walnut Way Conservation Corporation in 2000 to create and sustain economically diverse neighborhoods. Under their leadership, Walnut Way grew into a neighborhood campus where neighbors, organizations and entrepreneurs come to learn and engage. Their goal has always been to improve the quality of life for the residents of these neighborhoods, whom they call friends and neighbors.

Larry Adams was a US Marine and honor guard, and he has received numerous recognitions for his work, including the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s Community First Award, the Mayor’s Design Award and the Local Initiative Support Corporation’s People’s Choice Award.

Sharon Adams brings together resources and residents, business owners, nonprofits and a range of shareholders to improve equity, opportunity and cooperation within these neighborhoods. She is the recipient of several awards including the Purpose Prize Fellowship, the Frank Kirkpatrick Award from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and The Business Journal Women of Influence Award.

In 2015, the couple retired from Walnut Way and formed HN Development, LLC, to inspire possibilities for the common good. They remain board members of Walnut Way and MARKETPLACE Bid 32 and live in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD | Doctor of Medical Science


Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, a breast oncologist and author, has dedicated much of his career to healthcare reform, research ethics and end-of-life care. He currently serves as Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Emanuel’s recent book, Prescription for the Future, identifies standout medical organizations that have achieved higher-quality, more patient-focused and lower-cost care, and from their examples distills twelve transformational practices that could transform the entire healthcare sector.

Dr. Emanuel was the Founding Chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health and held that position until August 2011. He recently served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council.

He has received numerous awards including election to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Science, the Association of American Physicians and the Royal College of Medicine (UK). Hippocrates Magazine selected him as Doctor of the Year in Ethics. He received the American Medical Association-Burroughs Welcome Leadership Award, the Public Service Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the John Mendelsohn Award from the MD Anderson Cancer Center and a Fulbright Scholarship (which he declined).

Dr. Emanuel also serves as a Venture Partner at Oak HC/FT and as a contributor for the New York Times and CNN.

Matthew L. Hunsaker, MD, FAAFP | Doctor of Medical Science

Matthew Hunsaker, MD, FAAFPMatthew L. Hunsaker, MD, joined the Medical College of Wisconsin as the Founding Campus Dean for the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Professor of Family and Community Medicine in January 2014. Dr. Hunsaker provides overall leadership and management of MCW’s regional medical school campus in Green Bay and serves as the primary liaison for our health system, academic and community partners in Northeast Wisconsin, as well as with MCW’s Milwaukee campus. Prior to joining MCW, Dr. Hunsaker was a faculty member and Program Director at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford for more than a decade. Dr. Hunsaker has served as a national and international resource for medical education, particularly in the design and scale-up of medical education, primary care, and community-based medical teaching models.

Michael S. Orban | Doctor of Humanities


Vietnam War veteran Michael S. Orban has dedicated his life to helping fellow veterans heal from the experiences of war. This includes, over the past decade, working with the Medical College of Wisconsin on projects that directly impact the care and opportunities available to veterans.

Orban co-founded The Warrior Partnership, an MCW program that offers veterans the chance to talk about their traumatic war experiences with medical students and offers students the chance to learn how to integrate the unique needs of this population into their care. He also co-founded the Incarcerated Veterans Project and serves on the community-academic advisory board for Milwaukee PROMPT (Prevention of Opioid Misuse through Peer Training project), a collaboration between MCW and local veterans that is developing innovative ways to address opioid use disorder among veterans.

Orban, a 45-year sufferer of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), spent five years in the U.S. Peace Corps Africa and USAID Africa and gives keynote talks on PTSD, suicide and transition to civilian life. He has received the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Air Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm and the National Defense Service Medal for his efforts in Vietnam. He was presented with the Red Cross Military Real Heroes Award in 2013. He is the author of Souled Out, Conquering Combat PTSD,

Orban Foundation for Veterans

Roland A. Patillo, MD, FACOG | Doctor of Medical Science


Roland A. Pattillo, MD, Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Morehouse School of Medicine and a 27-year member of the Medical College of Wisconsin faculty, has been a strong force in women’s health for five decades. Dr. Pattillo is an expert on gynecologic and trophoblastic (placental) cancers and stem cell research, and he led a team of physicians who successfully cultivated cervical tissue cells outside the body to develop a vaccine for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). For this and other accomplishments, he received the MCW Distinguished Service Award in 1994.

Dr. Pattillo’s research and clinical studies focused on in-vitro cell models that possessed characteristic biomarkers that were then used in multiple experimental designs for assessment of endocrine function, chemotherapy, radiation therapy sensitivity and differentiation.

This research culminated in the first identification of the trophoblast stem cell and establishment of the first human hormone synthesizing cell system maintained in continuous cultivation. Dr. Pattillo shared all the cell systems he established with scientists worldwide, and one, the ovarian system, was used to develop a new treatment for ovarian cancer. He authored the first stem cell publication in 1968.

Dr. Pattillo completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at MCW and was on the MCW faculty from 1968 to 1995, serving as Acting Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1979 and Vice-Chair from 1980 to 1984. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, one book and many book chapters.

Dr. Pattillo has been honored with the Medallion of the International Trophoblast Society, the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award and the Pioneer Award from the National Institute of Health for Frontiers in Stem Cell Research.

Rebecca Page Ramirez | Doctor of Humanities and Augustin A. Ramirez, Jr. | Doctor of Medical Science


Agustin A. Ramirez, Jr., and his wife, Rebecca Page Ramirez, have made giving back to the community a centerpiece of their lives, and they put much of their philanthropic efforts into providing others with access to a quality education.

The Ramirez family supported construction of a new elementary and middle school at the United Community Center in central-city Milwaukee, which provides educational opportunities to more than 1,300 predominantly Hispanic students. The Agustin A. Ramirez, Jr. Family Foundation provides college scholarships to more than 100 Greater Milwaukee students each year, and the family has committed $1 million for a new Ramirez Lean Scholars program that funds a collaborative effort between the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the Medical College of Wisconsin to apply lean practices to delivering more effective medicine in a hospital environment.

Most recently, the Ramirez Family Foundation committed to investing $60 million to build a new K-4 through 12th school on Milwaukee’s South Side. St. Augustine Preparatory Academy will provide capacity for 3,000 children from K-4 through 12th grade when completed.

Outside of the Milwaukee area, the Ramirezes have funded a Chair in the Mechanical Engineering School at the Georgia Institute of Technology and endowed two scholarships at the University of Virginia. The Ramirez family is also committed to building Christian schools in Central America, with a long-term family goal of reaching 1,000,000 children.

Agustin Ramirez, Jr., currently serves as Executive Chairman of HUSCO International, a global engineering and hydraulics manufacturing company he founded in Waukesha in 1985. He served as CEO of HUSCO for 26 years.

Aaron Rodgers | Doctor of Humanities
Aaron Rodgers
Doctor of Humanities
Mary Ellen Stanek, CFA | Doctor of Humanities and Scott P. Stanek, DDS | Doctor of Medical Science


Mary Ellen Stanek, CFA, and Scott P. Stanek, DDS, are generous community supporters and have focused many of their philanthropic efforts on youth development and education. To assist with their support, they established the Scott and Mary Ellen Stanek Family Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

Mary Ellen Stanek is Managing Director and Director of Asset Management at Robert W. Baird & Co., Chief Investment Officer for Baird Advisors and President of the Baird Funds. She has been a member of the MCW Board of Trustees since 2001 and has served on the boards of Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Boys and Girls Clubs, Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Junior Achievement, Marquette University, Milwaukee World Festival and United Way of Greater Milwaukee. She also has served on the corporate boards of Baird Financial Group, Journal Communications, Journal Media Group, Northwestern Mutual, West Bend Mutual Insurance Company and Wisconsin Energy Corporation.

Dr. Stanek is in private practice at Stanek Family Dental and is considered a thought leader and role model for dental practice in our region.

Mary Ellen and Dr. Stanek were named Parents of the Year by the Children’s Outing Association in 2011. Mary Ellen Stanek has received many awards, including Marquette University Alumna of the Year, Marquette University College of Arts and Sciences Person for Others, Marquette University High School’s Spirit of St. Ignatius, St. Francis Children’s Service Award, the Point of Light Award, Professional Dimension’s Sacagawea Award and the MVP Award from the Boys and Girls Club.

Past Recipients


Donna M. Hietpas
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree

Ralph E. Hollmon
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Will Allen
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree


Billie Ann and Michael Charles Kubly, MD
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Gary H. Gibbons, MD
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree

Ricardo Diaz
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Timothy T. Flaherty, MD
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree


John Bartkowski
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree

Jon and Ann Hammes
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degrees

Lester L. Carter, Jr.
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree

Robert J. Lefkowitz
Doctor of Science Honorary Degree


Mary-Claire King
Doctor of Science Honorary Degree

Tim Size
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

William David Petasnick
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree


Jeffrey T. Laitman
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree

Robert A. Wild
Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary Degree

Thomas A. Brophy
Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary Degree


Cordelia Taylor
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree

Jan Lennon
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

T. Michael Bolger
Doctor of Medical Science Honorary Degree


Allan H. (Bud) Selig
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Bryon Riesch
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Mary and Ted D. Kellner
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Michael Bliss
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree

Sheldon and Marianne Lubar
Doctor of Humanities Honorary Degree