Ceremonial Events - Commencement
Honorary Degree Recipient
FLOYD H. ROURKE
Doctor of Laws
Although Floyd Rourke lives in New York, he has had an extraordinary influence on cancer research and medical care in Vermont and beyond. As the chair of the Lake Champlain Cancer Research Organization, Rourke has dedicated the vast majority of its endowment to UVM’s Vermont Cancer Center. To date, in its twenty-seven-year history, the LCCRO has supported the cancer center with approximately $10 million, strongly underpinning the VCC’s leading-edge cancer research and care for patients in this region.
College of Medicine Interim Dean John Fogarty has said that, without Rourke’s passionate advocacy, “the Vermont Cancer Center would be weakened, if it existed at all.” The LCCRO’s generosity, Fogarty said, “stands along with twenty-eight years of National Cancer Institute funding as one of the twin pillars supporting the Vermont Cancer Center.
Rourke is the retired chairman, president, and CEO of Sandy Hill Corporation, a pulp and paper machinery company in Hudson Falls, New York. As chair of the LCCRO, he is carrying on the work of his mentor, philanthropist J. Walter Juckett, who created and self-financed the LCCRO.
The VCC at UVM is one of only thirty-nine federally designated comprehensive cancer centers in the country. Its members have advanced cancer research through several, significant break throughs: identifying two colon cancer genes; identifying a genetic marker to detect genetic damage from environmental factors (and using the marker to establish the first physical evidence that a pregnant woman’s exposure to passive smoking harms the fetus); pioneering sentinel node biopsy, which reduces the extent and harm of breast cancer surgery; and promoting mammography registries throughout the country.
In addition to his chairmanship of LCCRO, Rourke heads the Sandy Hill Foundation, also created by Juckett, which focuses on animal welfare, higher education, human services, and the arts. He also is a trustee of the Glens Falls Hospital Foundation and the Glens Falls Foundation; the latter awards scholarships to local students. He is a former member of the board of governors of Glens Falls Hospital. He is a former director of the Double H Ranch of Lake Luzerne, New York, part of the network of Paul Newman’s ‘Hole-in-the-Wall Camps’ for children who are critically ill and their families. Rourke was a key force behind the creation of policies and protocols that served as models in establishing Hole-in-the-Wall camps across the United States, in Europe, and in Israel. He also has served business interests through his memberships on the boards of the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency for twenty years and Banknorth N.A. of Glens Falls for twenty-eight years.
The inpatient surgical center at Glens Falls Hospital is named for Rourke, and the VCC’s Regional Cancer Research Symposium includes the Rourke Prize for best research presentation.