Art of Giving with Kent DiFiore

February 02 2022
Martha Humphrey and Kent DiFiore at the FAAB Summer Social in 2018 Martha Humphrey and Kent DiFiore at the FAAB Summer Social in 2018

The Art of Giving celebrates remarkable stories from the College of Fine Arts donor community.

With expertise in oncology and a rigorous career serving patients, one might not expect to find Kent DiFiore devoting his extra time to the arts. But in his own words, “I love the performing arts, I love the visual arts – I love it all.”

After graduating from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, DiFiore did his post-graduate training at University of Utah Health Sciences including medical internship, medical residency and fellowship in Hematology and Oncology. His wife Martha Humphrey was a year behind him in the program. They both took a liking to Utah, and decided to stay. DiFiore went into private practice as an oncologist for nine years before Greg Litton joined him in practice which eventually grew into Utah Cancer Specialists. Now, UCS has over 20 providers at nine different sites across the Wasatch Front.

“I am really proud of what we have built,” DiFiore said. “We have a robust clinical trials program, palliative care program, the ability to do in house imaging and a laboratory work as well as very good doctors – doctors whom I would see myself, if the need arises.”

DiFiore has served on the Fine Arts Advisory Board (FAAB) since 2014, acting as Board Chair from 2015 to 2018. Prior to his service at the College of Fine Arts, he served on the board at Ballet West. Diving into the arts world was a natural fit.

“I love to see young people succeed. It is fascinating to discover what the students’ passions are, and why they want to major in the fine arts.”

“I have an older brother with whom I was quite competitive,” he explained. “He went on to obtain a bachelor’s as well as a master’s degree in piano performance at the Julliard School in NYC. We had a piano in our home, and thought I would learn how to play, but I quickly realized I didn’t have the adequate time to devote to it.” So, when he and Martha began searching for a good home for their piano, they discovered Ballet West had a great need for it. They didn’t let him get far before asking him to join their board.

“To get into the nonprofit world and learn how things are done outside of medicine was a real learning experience fo me, and I loved it,” he said. “It was a time of great financial deficit, and it was challenging and rewarding to help raise money for the Ballet.”

It was former Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Raymond Tymas-Jones, who approached DiFiore about the Fine Arts Advisory Board. For DiFiore, the prospect of becoming more connected to fine arts students and faculty was appealing.

“I love to see young people succeed,” he said. “It is fascinating to discover what the students’ passions are, and why they want to major in the fine arts.” 

Although he “retired” as a physician about eight years ago, he still continues to see patients periodically. He thinks he might actually retire this year and see “what else life has to offer.”

Some of that newly free time will definitely be filled with the arts, as he and Martha already take advantage of the incredible performances, screenings, and opportunities available in the community. They have been Sundance Film Festival devotees for many years, and have also enjoyed annual theatre trips to London through the Go Learn London On Stage program through University of Utah Continuing Education.

“My first year, I brought binoculars, but little did I know Jane [England] a faculty member in the Department of Theatre procures the best seats in the house! The experience has been so magic – I credit myself with selling out a theatre trip because we urged our friends to join,” he said.

DiFiore is passionate about the future of the CFA, particularly the Department of Film and Media Arts. Kent and Martha have supported numerous student scholarships and have high hopes for the future of the program. This hope is displayed in the recent establishment of the Martha Robb Humphrey Endowment in the Department of Film & Media Arts, supporting student’s passion for film in perpetuity. As a true advocate of the fine arts, Kent often invites friends to performances and promotes the college’s initiatives within his professional and personal networks. This advocacy is also carried through in building relationships with faculty, chairs, and directors.

“The arts can help distract us from the ills of the world that we are experiencing,” DiFiore said. “They are a great way to get out of one’s box and into the amazing world or the performing or visual arts.”