Lewis Katz School of Medicine names dean’s chair for philanthropist Marjorie Joy Katz
The late philanthropist, Marjorie Joy Katz, was dedicated to making the lives of children and families in her community brighter and better. The dean’s chair of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University will now carry her name so her legacy can inspire future generations of doctors to not just heal bodies but find ways to heal the world around them.
The Lewis Katz School of Medicine announced this month that its dean’s chair will be named for the late philanthropist Marjorie Joy Katz, who was the wife of Lewis Katz, CST ’63, the namesake of the medical school and a Temple trustee until his passing in 2014, and the beloved mother of Drew Katz, a current Temple trustee, and Melissa Katz Silver.
Ask anyone who knew her to describe Marjorie Joy Katz and their responses are almost identical: To know Marjorie was to know someone genuinely motivated by love. “After interacting with her, you’d walk away with this warm, uplifted feeling as if you’d just been hugged by an angel,” said Drew. Indeed, Marjorie is remembered most for quietly dedicating her life to taking care of the people in her community.
Born in Arizona and raised in New Jersey, Marjorie was always drawn to learning. She studied French at Pennsylvania State University and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1965. With her love of learning and being in a classroom, it was unsurprising that she returned home after graduating to become a French teacher at Cherry Hill High School West and an English teacher at Camden County College. She and Lewis married in 1966 and together the couple would go on to become dynamic philanthropists over the next several decades. But Lewis always credited Marjorie with inspiring their family’s expansive generosity.
Marjorie was the kind of person who remembered the smallest details of people’s lives. She would remember the names of spouses and children and often asked about how they were doing, always genuinely interested in the response. She was known to acknowledge and celebrate major milestones in her colleagues’ families’ lives, like a daughter’s high school graduation or a son’s 13th birthday. And when a little girl from Marjorie’s synagogue was diagnosed with cancer, Marjorie got permission from the girl’s parents to take her on frequent outings to keep her spirits up.
These are just a few examples out of hundreds that exemplify the ways in which Marjorie impacted the lives of those around her. “Our home was always filled with kids from all different backgrounds,” Drew said. His sister Melissa Katz Silver adds, “More than anything else, my mom loved making kids’ lives brighter and better. It was very important to my mother that everyone had an equal playing field around her.”
Melissa and Drew acknowledge that many women in history have made significant contributions to the world around them and yet their names are missing from history. With that in mind, it was imperative to them and their families that Marjorie’s contributions always be remembered and that her example could continue to inspire others. Drew said he couldn’t think of a more fitting way to do this than by naming the dean’s chair of Temple’s medical school after her.
This decision is one that Drew spent a lot of time thinking about. He acknowledges that notoriety was never something for which his mother strived, and this kind of recognition is not something for which she would have asked. Though it is a source of solace for the Katz family, who still grieve deeply for Marjorie’s loss—she passed away in 2013 from complications of a stroke—honoring her in this way also holds a larger significance.
The ripple effect from the dean’s chair is immense. Ultimately, Drew hopes his mother’s legacy and values will influence the dean who, in turn, will inspire the future generations of Katz students who enter the field of medicine each year. The education and experience at Temple uniquely position students to pursue careers in healthcare with a focus on dismantling inequity and affecting impactful change. Drew hopes that Marjorie’s name on the dean’s chair will help ensure that they also continue to understand the importance of the intimate and interpersonal ways they can heal the world around them.
An old photo shows Marjorie and Lewis Katz posing with their two children Melissa and Drew.
It is particularly fitting that Amy J. Goldberg, the first woman to serve as dean in the school’s history, is also the first dean to carry the title of the Marjorie Joy Katz Dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. Goldberg is an acclaimed surgeon who has also dedicated her life to making the world around her better.
“I am truly honored to serve as the first woman dean of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, and deeply proud that the name this role bears now recognizes a woman whose legacy is rooted in kindness and generosity,” Goldberg said. “Marjorie’s values will certainly serve as guideposts for my leadership as dean, as they will for those who lead our school in the future.”
Drew hopes that with his mother and Goldberg’s examples, future deans of the medical school will be encouraged and inspired to follow in their footsteps.
“I hope my mom’s name reminds them to always focus on making a difference and to help the people that need it the most,” Drew said. “It’s easy to focus on the best and the brightest students. It’s harder to take the students who are struggling and figure out how to give them the kind of support they need to thrive and succeed. That’s what my mother would have done. I know that’s what Dr. Goldberg will do, and I hope that’s what every future dean will do—to honor the legacy of the person for whom their deanship is named.”