Passing the Mace
By Rodney Tanaka, Senior Communications Writer
POMONA, Calif. - 06/19/2008 -- In Western University of Health Sciences’ 31-year history, only three faculty members have earned the honor of serving as university marshal. This elite group will add one more to their ranks as Dr. Rafi Younoszai steps down as the ceremonial leader of commencement and convocation processions.
Younoszai, PhD, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific anatomy professor, decided he was ready to step down as marshal after his fifth year of service, paving the way for Alan Cundari, DO, MS, chair of COMP’s Department of Family Medicine, to take over at the 2008 Convocation ceremony in August.
“I was honored to serve as university marshal,” Younoszai said. “It indicates you are a respected member of the faculty.”
The university marshal serves as the macebearer at WesternU’s commencement and convocation ceremonies, leading the procession of the president, faculty and Board of Trustee members to the stage. The university mace incorporates the university seal, a brass orb and an engraving – “EDUCATING HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS IN THE OSTEOPATHIC TRADITION.”
“The marshal is important because it symbolizes the spirit of the university,” said WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD. “And the marshal proudly leads the academic procession, which gives weight to the importance of teaching and learning.”
Younoszai, who is WesternU’s longest-serving active faculty member, having joined in 1979, said becoming marshal requires longevity, experience and service contribution. He has served five years as university marshal and prior to that had served about the same amount of time as COMP marshal.
The university marshal is present at the graduations for every college. Before the ceremony starts, the marshal makes sure that all faculty members are accounted for and ensures there are enough chairs on stage for them, Younoszai said.
The college marshal leads students to their seats then the university marshal leads the faculty and trustees to the stage. During the commencement ceremonies, Younoszai made sure family and friends properly hooded their graduates and exited down the stairs.
Younoszai is the third university marshal in the school’s history. Gayle Nelson, PhD, former anatomy professor, served as marshal from 1982 to 1996. Nadir Khan, PhD, former microbiology professor, served as marshal from 1997 to 2003.
Now Dr. Cundari will become the fourth to hold the title.
“I am both humbled and honored to be named the next Western University of Health Sciences marshal,” Cundari said. “To me, the marshal is the representative of faculty and students and embodies the university traditions of academic excellence and humanism.”
Cundari graduated from COMP in 1985 and joined the COMP faculty in 1990 after interning at Heights General Hospital in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I am honored that I will be stepping into the role held by one of my own professors who taught me while I was a student here, and whose long tradition of academic excellence and humanism has been a model for me to follow in my own career development,” Cundari said.
Cundari served as the COMP marshal for four years.
“Having graduated in one of the earliest classes of the university’s growth I am extremely proud of the degree and education I have received and to step into the university marshal role is a very humbling feeling,” he said.