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Ambrose honored for service to Transylvania

Charles T. Ambrose, a champion of Transylvania’s heritage as a pioneer in medical education in the nineteenth century, received a 2010 Outstanding Community Honoree award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Bluegrass Chapter at a National Philanthropy Day luncheon in November.

Charles Ambrose and President Williams
Charles T. Ambrose, right, receives congratulations from Transylvania President R. Owen Williams on his Outstanding Community Honoree award.

The program celebrates those who have made a significant contribution of time and resources to nonprofit agencies, thereby enhancing the quality of life in the community. Ambrose, a professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and a widely published expert on medical history, was nominated by Transylvania.

Soon after his first visit to Transylvania in 2007, Ambrose embarked on a mission to tell the world about the books and instruments used in the old Transylvania medical department from 1799-1859 that are housed in the university’s Special Collections. His first act was to conceive and sponsor a symposium on Transylvania’s role in early medical education. Held in the summer of 2007, the event attracted historians, physicians, teachers, and others, including a Smithsonian Institution curator who studied Transylvania’s collection of surgical instruments.

To continue the conversation among symposium attendees and make others aware of Transylvania’s unique holdings, Ambrose offered to underwrite a publication, Transylvania Treasures, that would tell the story of the school’s rich past. Eight issues have been published since 2008, and Ambrose is a frequent contributor.

Transylvania Treasures has been extremely well received and has won numerous awards, including the 2009 Gold Award—the highest available—in a competition sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, which has 3,400 members in 61 countries.

“Dr. Ambrose has raised awareness of Transylvania’s rare books, documents, scientific artifacts, and portraits, but more importantly he is helping to ensure that these treasures are properly preserved and that students and scholars continue to have access to them,” said Mark Blankenship ’81, acting vice president for alumni and development. “The university is very fortunate to have him as a benefactor.”

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