Academic Ceremonies - Commencement
Honorary Degree Recipient
Ben R. Forsyth
Doctor of Science
Dr. Ben R. Forsyth has served the University of Vermont as professor of medicine, senior vice president, trustee, and advisor.
Forsyth grew up in New York City and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University in 1953. He completed his medical training at New York University in 1957 and began a distinguished career as a clinician, surgeon and researcher exploring the treatments and biology of infectious diseases. Following a residency at Yale, he joined the Harvard Medical School as a research fellow. In 1961, he was selected as a research medical officer for the US Navy and later became senior surgeon in a respiratory virus unit of the US Public Health Service.
He joined UVM’s College of Medicine in 1966 as associate professor of medicine and director of the infectious disease unit. With dozens of research publications on topics ranging from pneumonia in military personnel to influenza vaccines in children, and praised for his skill in teaching medical students and caring for patients, he was promoted to full professor in 1971. He became emeritus professor of medicine in 1990.
In addition to his outstanding contributions to medicine, Forsyth has proved an invaluable administrator and mentor, including service from 1985 to 1990 as second-in-command to then UVM president Lattie Coor. Forsyth’s administrative leadership at UVM included posts as associate dean for the division of health sciences, acting vice president for development and alumni affairs, vice president for administration, and senior vice president. In all these roles, he demonstrated a sensitive and able hand in matters ranging from finances to personnel to government relations.
In 1990, Forsyth followed Coor to Arizona State University where he would serve as senior executive assistant and then provost and vice president. At ASU, he was professor in the School of Health Administration and Policy.
His heart always in Vermont, Forsyth’s service to UVM continued when he joined the university’s board of trustees from 1996 to 2002. He also served on the board of directors for the United Way of Chittenden County for seventeen years. A skilled negotiator and kind friend, his work behind the scenes has brought clarity and consensus to many challenging moments.
“Some of the same skills that are used being a good physician make you a good administrator,” Forsyth told the Burlington Free Press, “You listen to people, find out what the problems are and remedy them.”