Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York  

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Marie Kuffner, M.D. (MC '63)

Keynote Speaker Honored with Alumna of Achievement Award

Marie Kuffner never felt threatened when she entered medical school as a mother of four or began practicing in the male-dominated field of anesthesiology.

"It comes from having a strong feminine base," she recalled. "I always believed women could do anything, and I knew the only ingredients for success were intentions, commitment and hard work."

Much of that foundation, she said, was built in her time at Marymount.

Honored at Reunion on June 7 with the 2003 Alumna of Achievement Award, Kuffner stands out for her commitment to her profession, her community and her family. She also delivered the keynote address at Reunion, reflecting on how the environment of her college years influenced her feminine drive and spirit.

Kuffner graduated with a bachelor of science degree from Marymount in 1963, and devoted time to raising her family before completing her medical training at the University of Texas in the late 1970s.

As a professor of anesthesiology at the UCLA School of Medicine and former chief of staff of the UCLA Medical Center, Kuffner has trained doctors to use both their skills and their sensitivity in caring for patients. She calls this her "agenda for caring"-a commitment to increased respect and compassion for patients, the community and the profession.

Kuffner has promoted these ideals in many professional organizations as well. She serves as current chair of the American Medical Association's Council on Long-Range Planning, one of only five AMA councils, and is immediate past president of the California Medical Association. In 1992, President Bush appointed her to the Practicing Physicians Advisory Council, a commission of the Department of Health and Human Services, which she chaired from 1999 to 2000.

For her contributions to health care in the state, the California Senate named Kuffner Woman of the Year in 2000.

Kuffner, a grandmother of two living in Los Angeles, credits her years at Marymount with helping her retain her femininity while excelling professionally.

"I knew there was nothing I couldn't do, so I never felt threatened or had to take on the yoke of a male or have a chip on my shoulder," she said. "Marymount gave us a unique education and was the center of my life at the time. It's where I drew my strength."

Despite her accomplishments, Kuffner said she was surprised to learn she was chosen for this year's prestigious alumnae award. "I'm just overwhelmed with it all and very, very honored," she said.

-Susanne McHugh

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