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Elms College Taps Peter DePergola to Lead Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced the appointment of Peter DePergola II, associate professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities, as executive director of the newly created St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture (CERC).

“I look forward to working with Dr. DePergola, an internationally recognized bioethicist, as he leads the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture,” said Elms College President Harry Dumay. “In his career, Peter has been at the forefront of bioethics in the region, having developed ethical guidelines for treating COVID-19 patients at both Baystate Health and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at large.”

DePergola is also associate professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the director of the Bioethics and Medical Humanities program at Elms.

CERC was launched on Oct. 13 to increase engagement and discourse on the most pressing and complex questions related to ethics, religion, and culture in today’s society, and to lead the regional community in thoughtful, engaging dialogue. A $1 million naming gift from an anonymous donor and two six-figure contributions from Carolyn Jacobs, and B. John (Jack) and Colette Dill and family helped the college establish the center.

In addition to his appointment as CERC executive director, DePergola has been named the Shaughness Family Chair for the Study of the Humanities, which is the college’s only endowed chair. The Shaughness Family Chair was funded in 1994 by the late L. Stella Shaughness, and the endowment income is to be used to promote academic excellence by supporting teaching, publishing, and/or research in the humanities.

“I am delighted to be leading the CERC and look forward to creating innovative programming that will explore how fundamental ethical, religious, and cultural issues challenge and shape our traditions and norms,” DePergola said. “I am also honored to be appointed as the Shaughness Family Chair for the Study of the Humanities, a role in which I will work tirelessly to bring the indispensable perspective of the humanities to bear on how medicine should recognize, diagnose, treat, support, and protect those who are most vulnerable in society.”

At Baystate Health, DePergola serves as chief ethics officer, senior director of Clinical Ethics, chief of the Ethics Consultation Service, and chair of the ethics advisory committee. He also holds secondary academic and research appointments at UMass Medical School, Sacred Heart University, the American Academy of Neurology, and TEDMED.

A professional member of several international academic societies and associations, DePergola earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies at Elms College, his MTS in ethics at Boston College, and his Ph.D. in healthcare ethics at Duquesne University. He completed his residency in neuroethics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, his fellowship in neuropsychiatric ethics at Tufts University School of Medicine, and his advanced training in neurothanatological ethics at Harvard Medical School.

A video of the official launch ceremony for the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture will be available starting Friday, Oct. 30 on the college’s YouTube channel and social-media accounts.

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