UMass Amherst to Honor Robert Gage on Sept. 19

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts will honor former vice chancellor for student affairs and director of health services Robert W. Gage, Sat., Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon.

The ceremony will take place at the main entrance to the University Health Center and will honor Gage for his many contributions to the campus community. Chancellor David K. Scott will officially unveil a portrait of Gage and dedicate a plaque to him in the lobby.

"Dr. Gage deserves recognition for building one of the best college health services’ programs in the nation," says Scott. "The campus community wishes to thank him for all he has done for UMass."

A 1938 graduate of Massachusetts State College, a forerunner of UMass, Gage received an M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 1942. After nearly 15 years of private practice both in Pennsylvania and Amherst, he took over as director of University Health Services (UHS) in 1960, and remained in that position until 1971. From 1971-76 he was vice chancellor for student affairs. From 1976-86, Gage served as head of the department of public health at UMass. Upon his retirement in 1986, he received a Chancellor’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the campus for exemplary and extraordinary service to the University.

The changes that occurred under Gage’s tenure at health services were extensive. Prior to the 1960s, some on-campus health care was available for free to students. But the rapid growth of the University, and advances in medical knowledge, necessitated a major overhaul of the health care system by the time Gage was named UHS director. Under Gage’s leadership, a new infirmary opened in 1961, and a fee of $15 per student per semester was instituted to allow health services to expand to give students on-campus health care for most illnesses. By 1986, more than 250 health services’ employees were providing comprehensive prepaid services to nearly 29,000 college students and student dependents at UMass and Amherst and Hampshire colleges, as well as to numerous state employees and their families belonging to the Valley Health Plan.