Temple Times Online Edition
    MAY 4, 2006
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Professor emeritus donates $1M to School of Medicine

Photo by Joseph V. Labolito/University Photography
Professor emeritus Kenneth Cundy shakes hands with his former student — and current dean of the Medical School — John Daly during a recent classroom dedication to Cundy in Kresge Hall, where he taught for many years. Cundy and his wife, Elsie, have pledged more than $1 million to support the School of Medicine.

When Kenneth Cundy came to the School of Medicine in July 1965 as an instructor and postdoctoral candidate, he wasn’t planning to stay. But more than 40 years later, he not only continues to teach for Temple, but he has ensured that quality medical education will extend far into the future.

Cundy and his wife, Elsie, have pledged more than $1 million to support the School of Medicine, through an endowed scholarship and the new medical building.

“Temple has become our extended family,” Cundy said recently when asked to reflect on his career. “I’ve had unique and strong ties with my former students.

“My major interest was taking care of my family, and that family is the students of Temple, former, present and future,” Cundy said.

One of Cundy’s students was John Daly, now dean of the School of Medicine. Daly said he has learned a lot from Cundy over the years, both in the classroom and by watching the bonds he has formed with students.

“Ken Cundy has been an indispensable part of the Temple medical community for more than four decades,” Daly said. “He and Elsie are two of our staunchest supporters and biggest fans. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for the School of Medicine over the years.”

For Cundy, the commitment came as a natural part of a life devoted to helping others. A South Dakota native, he left the family dairy farm for a bachelor’s degree at Stanford and a master’s in microbiology at the University of Washington. He met his wife while both were in the military serving on Okinawa in the 1950s.

After getting his doctoral degree at the University of California–Davis, he came to Philadelphia and started a relationship with Temple that has brought him honors for his dedication and teaching. His work with children, particularly those suffering from cystic fibrosis, was an early hallmark of his teaching and research years.

Students speak of his patient-yet-demanding style of teaching, which has drawn numerous honors. He won two Golden Apple awards from the school and the Lindback Award from the University to honor his teaching, before retiring in 1992. Even after his formal retirement, Cundy has continued to teach microbiology and immunology to Medical and Dental School students.

Considering his commitment to Temple and the respect he’s drawn from fellow faculty, it’s no surprise that he has lead the Faculty Senate — twice — but what might be surprising is that he coached the Temple medical rugby team.

“There used to be time for students to have outside interests, like rugby,” Cundy said. “That has shrunk over the years as the amount of information medical students have had to absorb has grown.”

Cundy’s outside interests include being a board member for the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Singers. He and his wife are also active in the Episcopal Church, another part of their extended family.

To show its appreciation, the School of Medicine last week dedicated a classroom in Kresge Hall to Cundy. It was the classroom where he has taught for many years, the “home” for his extended family.

“I owe my career to Temple,” Cundy said. “I’m delighted to give something back.”

Retired faculty from the Medical School should expect to hear from Cundy, as he reaches out to remind them of how they can make a difference in the school’s future.

“I want to get the faculty energized,” Cundy said. “I’m trying to convince them of the value of giving back to Temple.”