Chancellor Maurer named King of Ak-Sar-Ben

by Bill O'Neill, UNMC Public Affairs | October 17, 2005

picture disc.UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., on Saturday was named the 109th King of Ak-Sar-Ben during the annual Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Ball at Qwest Center Omaha. He follows the reign of Dick Davidson, CEO of Union Pacific Railroad.

About 2,500 people attended as Dr. Maurer and Lisa Diesing were crowned as the Ak-Sar-Ben king and queen, respectively. Diesing is the daughter of Terri and Jack Diesing Jr. of Omaha.

"I'm honored and proud to be selected as the king of Ak-Sar-Ben. This honor reflects the ascension of UNMC into a world-class academic health sciences center, which is a direct result of the hard work of our faculty and staff," Dr. Maurer said. "UNMC is engaged as an economic engine for the city and the state, and this role is embraced and supported within the community. It's gratifying to Beverly and me to receive this honor, as it reflects the respect that the community has for the work being done at UNMC."

Dr. Maurer said that he is indebted to the generosity and support to key leaders within the state of Nebraska. Those leaders include businessmen Chuck Durham, Walter Scott, Mike Yanney, Ken Stinson, John Gottschalk, Bruce Lauritzen and Mogens Bay, as well as Gov. Dave Heineman and former Gov. Mike Johanns.

"These civic leaders see the value in UNMC and its vision to be world-class, and they have been invaluable in providing insight and feedback in moving our initiatives forward. We truly appreciate their support," Dr. Maurer said.

In addition to friends from Nebraska, several family members and friends from out of state were on hand Saturday night and at Sunday's King brunch to help Dr. Maurer celebrate. They included the Maurers' daughters: Ann, who attended with husband Dr. David Rosenbach, and Wendy, who attended with husband Mark Linsky; and the Maurers' grandchildren, Diana and Michael. Their two step-grandchildren, Matt and Lauren, could not attend.

A native of New York, Dr. Maurer has served as UNMC chancellor since 1998. Before that, he was dean of the College of Medicine for five years. Prior to joining UNMC, Dr. Maurer spent 25 years at the Medical College of Virginia, serving as professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics for 17 of those years.

Dr. Maurer has been recognized widely for his achievements in academic medicine, both at MCV and UNMC. Among those, a few clearly stand out. A pediatric oncologist, Dr. Maurer is internationally known for his expertise in rhabdomyosarcoma, a childhood cancer. He served as principal investigator of NIH research grant awards and chaired the national Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group for 26 years. That group has been credited with raising the cure rate from 20 percent to 75 percent. In 2003, the Children's Oncology Group awarded Dr. Maurer with their most prestigious honor - the Lifetime Achievement Award - recognizing his leadership and contributions in this important area of cancer.

His achievements at UNMC include spearheading the merger of University Hospital and Clarkson Hospital to form The Nebraska Medical Center, which is now constructing a new Center of Clinical Excellence addition, and leading the institution to new heights of excellence in education, research and clinical care, including construction of new facilities such as the Durham Research Center. A second $70-million-plus research tower also is scheduled for construction, as is a new education building that will combine the latest technological advances in teaching with the newest pedagogy, elevating UNMC's education to a world-class level. Early in his chancellorship, Dr. Maurer set an aggressive goal to double UNMC's research funding in five years and triple it in 10. With research dollars now at more than $74 million, UNMC has reached the first goal earlier than expected and is on track to reach the second goal ahead of schedule.

Dr. Maurer's impact on Omaha and on Nebraska extends well beyond the boundaries of the UNMC campus. He has served on several community boards, and he continues as a board member for the Metropolitan Omaha Medical Society, The Nebraska Medical Center, Salvation Army of Omaha, Durham Western Heritage Museum, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts of America-Mid-America Council, and the Peter Kiewit Institute. He also is a member of the Rotary Club of Omaha-West. Dr. Maurer also has served as chairman of the American Heart Walk in Omaha, as honorary chairman for the National Council for Community and Justice.

In 2004, he and his wife, Beverly, were named as recipients of the People of Vision Award from Prevent Blindness Nebraska, and Dr. Maurer was named as the American Diabetes Association's Nebraska honoree. Earlier this year, Dr. Maurer was named as the Midlander of the Year by the Omaha World-Herald, in recognition of his contributions to UNMC, Omaha and the state of Nebraska. He is the first person from UNMC to receive that honor. Recently, he and Beverly received the Chai Award for Community Service from Chabad of Nebraska.

Beverly Bennett Maurer, a native of New York City, is an award-winning educator whose involvement with numerous groups has bettered the communities in which she has lived. After completing her degree and additional coursework in math and education at Brooklyn College, she served for 25 years as a math teacher, Director of Education, Assistant Principal, and Principal of an elementary school in Richmond, Va. She held her principalship for 17 years. Her innovative methods earned her the Master Teacher Award, nomination for Virginia Teacher of the Year, and continuous and current inclusion in Who's Who in Education and Who's Who in America.

Beverly's community interests range widely, with a particular emphasis on the arts, and her past and current board positions are varied. In Virginia, Beverly was active professionally in many educational organizations and was a board member of the Jewish Community Center, Anti-Defamation League, Women's Club, and Auxiliary to the Medical College of Virginia.

Shortly after moving to Omaha in 1993, Beverly immersed herself to help improve the community. She served on the boards of Uta Halle and the University of Nebraska Auxiliary. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. She is a founding member of the Nebraskans for Research and serves on that group's executive board. This group has been instrumental in promoting the research ongoing at the Medical Center and in Nebraska.

She also served on several committees at the Jewish Federation of Omaha. Beverly has worked with the Durham Western Heritage Museum on a glass exhibition that included much of the Maurers' personal collection. She is currently on the Board of Governors at the Joslyn Fine Arts Museum and has coordinated efforts to involve the University of Nebraska Medical Center with the museum, with sponsorship of special exhibits such as the Chihuly Glass exhibit for UNMC and hospital employees.

Beverly has been involved in raising funds for the UNMC SHARING Clinic, a student-run clinic designed to provide health care for underserved populations in Omaha. In the spring of 2005, Beverly and Hal co-chaired the inaugural benefit for children afflicted with autism.