On Campus: Space Invaders

221F Farber Hall, South Campus

Raymond Dannenhoffer, associate dean for services in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Interview by Michael Flatt

One might think a room full of skulls and skeletons could have a gloomy vibe, but the effect here is actually one of cheerful pragmatism—thanks largely to Ray Dannenhoffer (PhD ’87, MA ’82, BA ’79). At any given moment in Dannenhoffer’s office, one is likely to find a student, administrator or professor seeking his help. In addition to overseeing support services and IT for the med school, he teaches anatomy, supervises the gross anatomy lab, runs UB’s Anatomical Gift Program and serves as the United University Professions union representative.

The office of Raymond Dannenhoffer, associate dean for services in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Photo: Douglas Levere

A - CAT scans

Starting last year, we began doing full-body CAT scans of the cadavers. We give each student in the class his or her own copy of those scans on a jump drive.

B - Urns

When we were getting these customized for the Anatomical Gift Program, we were looking for four things: appropriate size (everybody’s cremains are roughly the same volume), reasonable attractiveness, a unique shape and affordability.

C - Skulls

Most of them are monkeys or apes. I use them sometimes to make a point to a student about the anatomical differences and similarities between apes and humans—because I also have human skulls.

D - O.P. Jones portrait

O.P. Jones (1906-1989) was a previous chair of the department of anatomy. He was a revered, and feared, faculty member. This used to hang somewhere in the Health Sciences Library, and when they took it down it ended up here.

E - La Specola poster

I was in Florence, and there’s a museum there called La Specola, which has hundreds and hundreds of wax models of the human anatomy from the 1700s. I bought this print because it’s a classic view of anatomy contrasted with the very modern view, circa 1993, drawn by Alan Cober. (See F.)

F - Alan Cober illustration

Alan Cober (1935-1998) was a UB art professor and a famous illustrator, but to me he was just Alan. He would bring students into the gross anatomy lab to draw, and did a bunch of illustrations as part of that. He gave me a signed print of the poster from a show the Burchfield Penney Art Center did of his work.