Catholic education helped professor excel

By Catholic New World
Sunday, November 20, 2011

Marcel Fredericks, a professor at Loyola University Chicago, believes that scientific disciplines need to be integrated. He also adheres to the fact that knowledge should not be compartmentalized in such a manner that precludes integration, synthesis and application to life experience.

This conviction, supported by the Catholic faith, has driven Fredericks’ academic work for more than four decades and has resulted in countless achievements, developments and improvements in the medical sociology field. Fredericks, director of the Office of Research in Medical Sociology at Loyola University Chicago, created and developed two sub-disciplines in his field: genetic sociology and cellular sociology, and also developed the Society, Culture and Personality Model.

“I teach the parallel between the cell as a biological system at the micro level and society as sociological cell at the macro level with its own system,” said Fredericks. “We are training a young doctor, young nurse or a young dentist to understand that they are not just treating a disease but a human being who has a connection with the family of origin, and in many instances, a family of procreation. Therefore, medical practitioners need to empathize with the patient,” said Fredericks.

During his many years of teaching at Loyola he has never taken a sabbatical. “I’m not so sure I can teach that student some other time and I want the opportunity to have that student in my class,” said Fredericks.

Fredericks’ work has gained national and international awards, including his most recent recognition, Doctor Honoris Causa, the highest academic dignity, awarded last June by Czestochowa University of Technology in Poland. The university, located close to the Jasna Gora Sanctuary with the Black Madonna known also as Our Lady of Czestochowa, has more than 14,000 students and 400 doctoral students. His work was also recognized by several other Polish universities, including Jagiellonian University Medical College in Cracow, and Warsaw University. Fredericks was invited to lecture at all three of these universities in Poland.

Born in British Guiana, Fredericks received his School Certificate with distinction from the University of Cambridge [in England] and matriculated from the University of London.

Fredericks was introduced to the Jesuit Community in British Guiana at a very early age. His interest in Jesuit education brought him to North America. He entered Loyola University Chicago, and earned his bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees there. His educational background also includes a post-doctorate from Harvard University Medical School as an NIH Fellow.

In 2000, Fredericks was named Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year at Loyola University for his accomplishments in teaching, research and service. In 2006 he received the Outstanding Professor and Educator Award.

His achievements include the publication of numerous books and journal articles; in addition to presentations at international conferences and professional meetings in Russia, Scotland, Poland, Austria, England, Ireland and the Caribbean. Fredericks has also been honored by the States Attorney and by the Chicago City Council for his many awards, contributions to medical sociology, to students and for research and service in the Jesuit tradition.

While teaching he remembers Jesuit Father Ralph Gallagher’s advice on how to teach the students: “Not only to make a living, but to make a life as well.”