Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD

Memorial trees planted for:

Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD

Jay Alan Gershen, who had a distinguished 43-year career in higher education, including a decade as president of Northeast Ohio Medical University, passed away on November 12 in Denver of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 74. Jay was devoted to his wife, Carol Cannon; his two daughters, Valari Gershen (Brandy Allen), and Jenna Gershen; his stepdaughter, Mackenzie Chernushin (Chad O’Connor); his siblings, Bonnie Lagunoff, Robert Gershen, and Lauren Gershen; his aunt, Irene Gershen; and numerous cousins. Born in the Bronx, Jay was the son of the late Julius and Vera (Sherman) Gershen. As Northeast Ohio Medical University president, Jay’s relentless drive and ambitious vision enabled him to transform NEOMED from a regional medical college into a leading community-based medical university in Rootstown, Ohio, partnering with twenty-four hospitals, dozens of ambulatory care settings as well as regional universities and colleges. As president from 2010 to his retirement in 2019, Jay led a $200 million campus expansion that doubled the size of the campus, the budget, and the staff and significantly increased the student body. He embarked on a dramatic campus makeover that included attractive new student housing and new research labs to recruit high-caliber faculty and students. A pediatric dentist by training, Jay believed healthcare is a right, not a privilege and that everyone should have the right to health care, regardless of means. He also believed education is the path to individual prosperity and economic vitality. He worked hard to diversify the NEOMED student body, and his signature initiative was “Education for Service,” an innovative program focused on diversifying Northeast Ohio’s healthcare workforce while reducing student indebtedness and providing health care to underserved urban and rural communities. Jay was an innovator skilled at building strong public/private relationships to make community members feel part of the university. To this end, he led the creation of a state-of-the-art wellness and education center that draws many community members to its fitness center, physical therapy and primary care practices, pharmacy, student-run free clinic, healthy bistro and conference center. Jay also championed the Bio-Med Science Academy, the nation’s first public STEM high school on a medical university campus with more than three hundred students getting an early start on science and medical careers. Jay loved mentoring young people and cherished the six months he spent living in student housing during his final year at NEOMED when his house sold unexpectedly in just one day. He loved getting to know the students, eating lunch with them, working out with the 5 a.m. gang at the wellness center and talking with them as they walked across campus together. He relished the chance to listen to students’ concerns and their dreams of becoming physicians, pharmacists and scientists – conversations that were so meaningful to him. Jay excelled at listening, collaborating and building consensus. He was always quick to share credit for success with his board, leadership team and faculty. A former NEOMED colleague called him a “consummate gentleman who truly cared about others and who has helped many colleagues succeed.” To forge relationships with the business and academic communities, Jay served on numerous boards, including as vice-chair of the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education and chair of the Inter-University Council of Ohio President’s Council. He saw the value of engaging the business community and also served on the boards of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Commission on Economic Inclusion, Fund for Our Economic Future, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Portage County Development Board, Stark Development Board, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Team NEO. Nationally, he served on the board of the Association of Academic Health Centers and the Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions. He was a long-standing board member and served on the Executive Committee of Research!America. In an interview, Jay once said, “I enjoy building things. I enjoy being in institutions and being involved with programs where creative people come together and try to accomplish challenging goals.” That was certainly his mission at the University of Colorado at Denver, where Jay spent twelve years in executive positions, including playing a key role in consolidating the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. In 2006, he was appointed vice chancellor for external affairs for the new university. From 1997 until 2006, as executive vice-chancellor, Jay led the conversion of the former Fitzsimons Army garrison to the Colorado Health Sciences Center, successfully moving it ten miles out of Denver despite local opposition to the project, political ambivalence and a staggering $4.3 billion price tag. From 2000 to 2002, Jay concurrently served as interim vice president for academic affairs and research for the University of Colorado. He served as the principal academic affairs and research officer for the CU system and was responsible for coordinating the development and review of undergraduate and graduate/professional programs. He also was a professor of dentistry from 1997 to 2010. Previously, Jay was a faculty member in the School of Dentistry at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1976-1997. He directed the UCLA Mobile Dental Clinic serving children of migrant workers in rural California until 1982 when he was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship and worked on health policy issues and legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. At UCLA, he served as Chair of Public Health Dentistry and later as acting dean of the School of Dentistry. Jay earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a dental degree from the University of Maryland. He completed both a clinical specialty in pediatric dentistry and a Ph.D. in education at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also served as a postdoctoral scholar in child psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. Jay, who had moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, was a fitness buff, an avid cyclist, a news junkie and jigsaw and crossword puzzle enthusiast. He enjoyed playing the piano and guitar. He loved traveling, especially exploring national parks with his wife. A Private Graveside Service will be held at 1:00PM, Thursday, November 19, 2020. The service will be streamed live. The link to watch the Graveside Service is on Jay's Tribute Wall on The Springs Funeral Services website and will be archived for viewing at any time. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Jay's memory may be made to Research!America, https://www.researchamerica.org/, P.O. Box 222451, Chantilly, Virginia 20153-2451 or to the NEOMED Foundation, https://www.neomed.edu/give/bluefund/, 4209 State Route 44, P.O. Box 95, Rootstown, Ohio 44272.
April 9, 1946 - November 12, 202004/09/194611/12/2020
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Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD
Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD
5 Trees have been planted in memory of Jay Gershen, DDS, PhD.

Memorial Trees


From Your Friends at Duchesne High School

November 23, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD has been arranged by From Your Friends at Duchesne High School. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
To Carol in memory of her dear husband, Jay.

Nancy (Rothermich) Kohl

November 23, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD has been arranged by Nancy (Rothermich) Kohl. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Carol, with deepest sympathy and much love --

Tribute Store

November 21, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD has been arranged by Tribute Store. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Jay wa s a wonderful guy and a great friend. Will miss his wisdom & humor. With sympathies. Georges C. Benjamin, MD

David & Mary Ellen

November 17, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD has been arranged by David & Mary Ellen. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Dear Carol, We are thinking of you.

Mary Beth Bulte

November 14, 2020

The planting of 1 memorial tree in the honor of Jay Alan Gershen, DDS, PhD has been arranged by Mary Beth Bulte. Planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration MI. Plant a tree
Carol- I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Prayers will continue for you, my lifelong friend. Mary Beth

Trees planted in Kirtland Habitat Restoration, MI