December 07, 2005

Basanta named to distinguished professorship

by Pete Rosenbery


Caption follows story

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- W. Eugene Basanta, a nationally recognized expert in health law and policy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, will serve as the law school's inaugural Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law.

Basanta is "a gifted colleague," law school Dean Peter C. Alexander said.

"He has a national reputation in health law and policy. He is a member of the faculty who contributes greatly to the day-to-day operations, as well as the long-term goals of the School of Law."

An investiture ceremony is set for 5 p.m., Dec. 19, in the law school's courtroom. The public is welcome, and reservations are due by Thursday, Dec. 15, to Linda Vineyard at 618/453-8761 or via email at


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend the investiture ceremony that begins at 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 19, in the School of Law courtroom. For more information, contact Peg Kowalczyk, program coordinator for the Center for Health Law and Policy at 618/453-8008.


"Professor Basanta is a well-respected legal scholar in the area of health and the driving force behind SIUC's Center for Health Law and Policy," said SIUC Provost and Vice Chancellor John M. Dunn. "The SIUC partnership with Southern Illinois Healthcare is a model relationship consistent with the missions of the University, School of Law, and SIH to maximize resources to the benefit of citizens of Southern Illinois."

The professorship, created earlier this year, recognizes a senior law school faculty member who has given much to the school throughout their career – and is tied to law, medicine and health policy issues. There are gifts and pledges totaling $180,000 to support the professorship, with the lead gift coming from Southern Illinois Healthcare Inc. The goal is $250,000.

"I'm very pleased," said Basanta, adding that the professorship is "good for the school and good for the Center for Health Law and Policy."

"I feel very honored for the recognition that it brings … to the program," said Basanta, who is health law center co-director with professor Marshall B. Kapp, the law school's Garwin Distinguished Professor of Law and Medicine.

Basanta came to SIUC as an assistant professor in 1980, and became an associate professor in 1985. He became a professor in 1992, and his service also includes stints as associate dean for academic affairs and as interim law school dean. He is also a professor in the SIU School of Medicine's Department of Medical Humanities.

Basanta has spent more than a quarter-century at the law school. Alexander solicited reviews from nationally recognized leaders within the health care community and "all of the people we contacted said he's an outstanding choice," he said.

After arriving at SIUC, Basanta's interest in law and medicine grew while working on projects with medical school faculty. He recognized health law as a growing area of specialization and interest.

Basanta has served as chair of the Medicine and Law Committee of the section of Tort and Insurance Practice of the American Bar Association. He has been a member of the Illinois State Bar Association's Health Care Law Section Council and is editor of the "Health Care Lawyer," the section's quarterly newsletter. He is also an advisor to the Journal of Legal Medicine, a member of the board of trustees of Southern Illinois Healthcare, and sits on the ethics committee of Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.

Southern Illinois Healthcare has had a strong relationship with the law school for many years, SIH President and CEO Dr. Thomas J. Firestone said. For seven years, SIH and the Health Law and Policy Institute have brought together some of the nation's leading experts to discuss significant medical issues. The professorship is a "continuation of our interest in a broader awareness of health law policy issues that affect not only our area, but also at the state and federal level," Firestone said. "This professorship serves to remind all of us the importance of creating policy to improve access to health care."

Basanta is deserving of the professorship "for his years of teaching law and his dedication to health policy issues in the region. He has been very active in the governing of health care institutions," Firestone said, including as a board member of St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro prior to SIH's formation.

Basanta is "the perfect recipient" for the professorship, said Carbondale surgeon and SIH board member Dr. Marsha G. Ryan. SIUC is one of only 20 programs nationwide to offer dual law and medical degrees.

"He has spearheaded the effort in law and medicine for both the law school and medical school for years and has single-handedly helped create a very well-respected law and medicine program," she said.

The collaboration among the University, the law school and SIH remains strong, which translates into "tremendous benefits" for the region, Basanta said. He recently attended a meeting with SIH representatives and Mike Lawrence, director of SIUC's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, which is working to develop and enhance school-based health programs for elementary and secondary students.

Basanta and his wife, Laura, live in rural Murphysboro. A son, Will, is a senior at the University of Southern California, and another son, Rob, is a junior at Murphysboro High School.

Seeking and celebrating faculty excellence is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.

(Caption: Honored law professor – Professor W. Eugene Basanta, a nationally recognized expert in health law and policy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the law school’s Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law. The 25-year law school veteran is the first to hold the professorship created earlier this year. An investiture ceremony is set for 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 19, in the School of Law courtroom.)

Photo by Steve Buhman