Congratulations to Dr. Tom Roland, recipient of 2013 Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award

Dr. J. Thomas Roland has performed approximately 1,500 cochlear implant surgeries, published scores of research papers, trained a generation of fellows and residents, and advanced scientific knowledge in areas like brainstem tumor operations of otolaryngology and the long-term impact of surgical treatments for hearing loss. But today, the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) formally recognizes another way that Dr. Roland has impacted the world: he is famous for his extraordinary compassion, kindness, and sincere concern for every one his patients and his or her family.

We’re presenting the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award tonight at the Feast, our annual fundraising event tonight. This honor is for those who reflect values of both clinical excellence and compassionate patient care in their work to improve life quality for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Dr. Roland is the Mendik Foundation Professor of Otolaryngology and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, NYU Langone Medical Center. He leads one of the premier Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery programs in the country, and as Co-Director of the NYU Cochlear Implant Center, he’s in charge of one of the largest implant centers in the world. He’s also been CHC’s Medical Director since 1995.

Dr. Roland’s charity work in Uganda

The volume of Dr. Roland’s humanitarian work is perhaps best exemplified by his work in Uganda. Quietly and on his own time, Dr. Roland donated his world-renowned expertise to Ugandans in need of ear surgeries to treat otological disorders that cause nerve problems, deafness, and other hardships. Over and over, Dr. Roland is described by colleagues, staff, patients, and others whose lives he’s touched as selfless, benevolent, and “the nicest person you could ever meet.”

A sense of presence and mindfulness imbues all that he does and no doubt serves his ability to accomplish so much so meaningfully. Recalling his days as a college football player, Dr. Roland mentors his students to find their focus in order to be their best selves: “There’s this unique experience that you very seldom get to get in life. And it’s when you’re so concentrated and so focused on an idea, a concept, a thought that there’s nothing else you’re aware of. For that moment, you catch a nice pass in a football game and you’re running for the goal line, there’s two or three defenders to get around… I haven’t experienced that in a long time—except during a very intense operation.” (From an interview with Dr. Roland and his colleague.) Several of tonight’s Feast guest directly benefited from Dr. Tom Roland’s unmatched skills as surgeon: they are the parents of children who received cochlear implants from him. These mothers and fathers have expressed their gratitude in the Feast’s Virtual Journal, viewable from iPads that guests can use to bid in the silent auction.

Some excerpts:

“You are so deserving of this honor. Throughout the 10 years since my implant surgery, we have benefited from your consistent care, optimism, and brilliance! An email never goes unanswered, even when you are halfway around the world… you are the most sincere and dedicated doctor ever… Thank you for never giving up on me!-Rebecca London, patient of Dr. Roland

“Dr. Roland is a brilliant doctor. But he is far more than just Max’s and Rex’s surgeon. He’s a compassionate and caring professional who spent countless hours answering our questions so that we could make informed choices and be comfortable with the difficult decisions we needed to make. On a personal level, he truly cared about Max and Rex—that they would receive the best possible follow-up care and rehabilitation to ensure their success.” -Glen Popick and Gabrielle Pecarsky, parents of two deaf sons

“We are thrilled to recognize him in this way and honored to call Dr. Tom Roland our Medical Director. Dr. Roland, your outstanding clinical expertise and exceptional personal care of your patients make you an extraordinary physician and we have been so fortunate to benefit from your leadership and guidance. We are so grateful for your skill as a surgeon and your compassion as a human being. You have surely changed Aidan’s life… and ours.” -Yaron, Cynthia, Aidan & Shane Schwartz, family of a deaf child

“Your skill, warmth and compassion helped recreate my life and many others.” –a patient of Dr. Roland

Thank you, Dr. Roland, for your long and dedicated work.

You’re an example of the kind of service we, as clinicians, strive to provide each person and family and treat.

Dr. Laurie Hanin, PhD, CCC-A

Executive Director

More on Dr. Roland: Dr. Tom Roland helps save the hearing of a city councilman

Read about last year’s Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award recipient, Dr. Frank Lin