School of Allied Health Professions alumnus’ gift reflects devotion, dedication to patient counseling program
The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Allied Health Professions has received its largest gift ever by an individual, a $1 million endowment from the Rev. Robert Lantz. The donation will fund a chair within the Program in Patient Counseling.
Katherine Lantz says that her husband, who died in 2008, hoped that the gift would provide continuity to the program that so greatly influenced his professional life. She said that when her husband, a 1964 graduate, attended the Medical College of Virginia, “it was the richest educational experience of his career, and he wanted to provide that for others.”
As a young minister interested in pastoral counseling in 1963, the reverend applied to three different schools to move further into his field. Ultimately, he selected MCV.
“I have since never doubted that I selected the best of those three for my advanced training,” he said in 2003, when he was honored by the MCV Alumni Association of VCU as one of its Alumni Stars.
After receiving his certificate in patient counseling from MCV in 1964, the reverend accepted a position as chairman of the Chaplain’s Department for the Baltimore City Hospitals. In subsequent years, he directed programs at the Memphis Institute of Medicine and Religion and taught pastoral counseling at St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C., at the Memphis Theological Seminary, at the University of the South at Sewanee and at the University of Tennessee Medical Units School.
In 1973, he founded the Maryland Institute of Pastoral Counseling Inc. and three years later relocated its operations to Annapolis, where he and his wife lived for 40 years.
D. Mark Cooper, D. Min., associate professor and chair of the VCU Program in Patient Counseling, studied under the reverend as a student at Memphis Hospitals in 1968. Cooper described this time as a “transforming experience.”
“Psychoanalysis was just starting to come into significance in the ’60s and in the church, Bob used the disciplines from Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and John Dewey to look at people and the practice of ministry,” Cooper said. “That was exciting for a kid who was a son of a Lutheran pastor. I felt he was going to make a difference in people’s lives, and he did, and I wanted to be one of those people.”
Throughout his career, the reverend also consulted with churches, seminaries and medical institutions, providing guidance in program planning, development and personnel management. In 1993, he brought his counsel to VCU as chair of the Pastoral Care Advisory Committee, which serves the Program in Patient Counseling.
Cecil B. Drain, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Allied Health Professions, says the reverend was extremely devoted to the department.
“He attended every advisory committee meeting and led each one strongly. It really made a difference,” Drain says. “He was a very good man, a great friend, a great alumni and a joy to be around.”
Drain, who became dean in 1997, says he learned about the profession of pastoral care through the reverend’s mentorship when the two served on the search committee for a new chair for the Program in Patient Counseling.
“He became a valued friend and counselor,” Drain said. “He taught me a ton about the profession and what it was all about and what he felt it needed.”
Katherine Lantz says the university’s Program in Patient Counseling was always important to her husband. “He gave a lot of his time and energy to it, and when he became financially successful, he wanted to provide for the department’s continuity with a financial contribution,” she said.
“He wanted to give back to the institution but he also wanted to preserve it,” Cooper said. “This gift ensures that clinical pastoral education training will always be here.”