Baystate Health Announces First-ever Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health announced the creation of its first-ever endowed chair, to be known as the Ronald T. Burkman Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Funding for the endowed chair was made possible by a significant gift to the Baystate Health Foundation by Dr. Ronald Burkman, the former chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baystate Medical Center, and his wife, Millie.

Proceeds from the endowment will support this faculty position in perpetuity, allowing the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the chair holder to advance the mission of excellence in clinical care, education, research, and training the next generation of obstetricians and gynecologists.

“I have a special place in my heart for Baystate Medical Center, where I spent the greater part of my clinical career and where my wife and I established many close friendships at Baystate and throughout the area,” Burkman said. “It was our desire to support the hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and highlight the quality of care the entire staff provides for area women, while supporting related educational programs, research, and clinical care at Baystate. It is our hope that this gift will also help to raise the prestige of the department and to attract future talented faculty and to retain those already practicing there.”

Dr. Heather Sankey, whom Burkman recruited to Baystate, has been named the inaugural holder of the Ronald T. Burkman Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In addition to serving as department chair, Sankey is professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UMass Medical School – Baystate.

“I have known Dr. Sankey since 1995, and she has a pleasant personality, which fares well with patients and staff,” Burkman said. “She is a team player who is a problem solver and is someone who listens carefully before making decisions. It is because of these many attributes that Dr. Sankey was selected to be the first recipient of the Ronald T. Burkman Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology.”

Added Sankey, “it is a great honor for Baystate and our department to be the recipient of this gift. It is special to me because Dr. Burkman has been a role model for me as department chair. He has mentored me through many career opportunities and continues to inspire me to be a better physician.”

Burkman noted that “it is our hope that providing this first endowed clinical departmental chair may interest other donors to make similar commitments to other departments or to endow positions other than the chair.”