University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Medical Student Education

College Holds Convocation of Thanks to Honor Anatomical Donors

Anatomical donor memorial bench
An engraved memorial bench located in the UVM Anatomical Gift Program burial lot in Burlington, Vt.'s Greenmount Cemetery honors donors. (Photo: UVM Medical Photography)

Each year, the University of Vermont College of Medicine holds the Convocation of Thanks, a memorial ceremony that honors the individuals who generously made anatomical gifts to UVM. This year, the Convocation of Thankswas held on Sunday, May 5, 2013, from 3 to 4 p.m. in Ira Allen Chapel on the UVM campus.

The event allows students and donor families to come together and share their experiences and gratitude. University of Vermont medical students, neuroscience graduate students, and doctorate in physical therapy students, as well as faculty and staff from these programs often participate in the event.

In 2009 and 2010, first-year anatomy students, with the help of Student Council, raised funds to plant a memorial tree to honor donors. In the spring of 2011, a weeping cherry tree was planted at UVM outside the Medical Education Pavilion, a place where medical students commonly gather to study, relax and meet with others. A plaque in front of the tree reads: "In gratitude to our greatest teachers", which is a sentiment shared by many who have been provided the opportunity to learn from our donors.

Through the gratitude and donations of past students, a memorial bench was erected on the UVM Anatomical Gift Program burial lot in Greenmount Cemetery on May 8, 1996. The engraved words on the bench state: “The UVM College of Medicine Medical Students dedicate this bench to those people who so generously donated their bodies to science. They were some of our best teachers.”

The Anatomical Gift Program facilitates whole-body donations that allow medical students, health professionals, and clinical specialists to study the structure of the human body, conduct anatomical reviews, and develop new clinical procedures. The Program is currently managed by the UVM College of Medicine’s Medical Student Education office and is directed by Sarah Greene, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences.