The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has honored former Franklin & Marshall College board chair Lawrence I. Bonchek, M.D., P’91, with one of its most prestigious national awards for service in higher education.
Bonchek is the 2017 winner of the Distinguished Friend of Education Award, given to individuals whose volunteer service has helped to advance education at a CASE member institution even though he or she did not attend that institution. Bonchek, who joined the College’s Board of Trustees in 2005 and served as its chair from 2010 to 2016, has been an active volunteer and philanthropic leader at F&M for 30 years.
“Larry embodies the qualities of vision, generosity and intellectual vitality that every college and university deserves to have in its leadership,” said F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield. “His respect for intellectual life and academic excellence benefitted me tremendously as a president. He is a compelling advocate for F&M’s investment in student talent, small classes and faculty research.”
Bonchek’s connection to F&M began when his daughter, the late Lisa Bonchek Adams ’91, enrolled at the College. Investments made with his former wife, Rita Bonchek, Ph.D., P’91, number him among the most generous donors in F&M’s history. He has supported many strategic initiatives, including endowed scholarships, the Lisa Bonchek Adams Auditorium in Kaufman Hall, and the Bonchek Lecture Hall in the Barshinger Life Sciences Building.
The Boncheks also were catalysts and lead investors in transforming F&M’s residential experience with the creation of Bonchek College House, part of a comprehensive College House system that has integrated the academic and co-curricular dimensions of the student experience.
“In deciding what to support, Rita and I, both with doctoral degrees, have a natural affinity for higher education, because it is most often the key -- as it has been for us personally -- to changing one’s life circumstances and one’s attitudes,” Bonchek said.
During Bonchek’s tenure on the board and under his leadership as its chair, F&M developed an institutional talent strategy for student recruitment, resulting in robust application growth and significant national recognition for the College. The strategy included the phasing out of non-need-based aid in favor of need-based aid, a move that garnered acclaim from the White House and leading advocates for broader access to higher education.
Board of Trustees Chair Sue Washburn ’73, who succeeded Bonchek in that role, says Bonchek has advanced the work of F&M and that of higher educational nationally and beyond.
“A committed philanthropist, dedicated servant, and principled leader, Larry Bonchek has played an indispensable role in establishing Franklin & Marshall’s current leadership position among America’s top colleges and universities,” Washburn said. “Actions Larry undertook as a trustee and as board chair have stimulated not only transformative change at F&M, but also a national conversation about college access, opportunity and social justice.”
A native of New York City, Bonchek graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, received his general surgical training at Yale-New Haven Medical Center and Vanderbilt University Hospitals, and completed his residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University. He was professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee before founding the cardiac surgery program at Lancaster General Hospital in 1983.
Now retired from clinical practice, Bonchek remains active in his profession. He has published more than 135 scientific articles, edited two books and delivered more than 125 lectures in the U.S. and 15 other countries. He is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database Committee and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Lancaster General Hospital.