United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a Hartford-based multinational manufacturer and Connecticut’s largest private employer, has donated $3 million to establish a new endowed professorship at Yale Cancer Center (YCC).

The gift, which establishes the United Technologies Corporation Professorship in Cancer Research, stems from UTC’s long-time commitment to supporting cancer care and research, and represents a deepened commitment by UTC to what its leaders see as a track record of success at Yale. In July 2008, UTC announced a $1 million gift to Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, which was then under construction and which opened in 2009.

“Smilow Cancer Hospital is now delivering great service to the community, including UTC employees,” says Louis Chênevert, chairman and CEO of United Technologies. “Our company has a long history of supporting leading organizations in our communities, and Yale Cancer Center is a proven leader.”

The new professorship, which will support the full-time research activities of a faculty member whose primary research focus is cancer, is also part of what Chênevert describes as UTC’s “broader efforts of promoting employee wellness.”

Mark Reitsma, UTC’s manager of Global Human Resources Support Operations, is one of many United Technologies employees who have been treated for cancer at Smilow. Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2010, Reitsma was initially told that he had only a few months or years to live. And then, at his supervisor’s recommendation, he sought a second opinion at Smilow.

Under the care of Scott N. Gettinger, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Reitsma’s treatment has included chemotherapy and new Phase I clinical trial drugs. Not only has his disease been stable, but Reitsma, a long-time cyclist, has twice completed Smilow’s annual 100-mile Closer to Free bicycle ride while in treatment. His care at Smilow, he says, “has been fantastic. There’s an attitude of optimism. You feel that there’s hope, not only because of the people you interact with, but also knowing that you have access to the latest treatments available.”

According to Chênevert, United Technologies and YCC are linked by a spirit of innovation. “UTC’s support of Yale Cancer Center reflects both the unfortunate fact that cancer touches almost every UTC employee in some form as well as our belief in the power of innovation,” says Chênevert, the current chair of the YCC Director’s Advisory Board and, along with his wife, Debbie, a long-time supporter of cancer research and treatment at the School of Medicine. “In our businesses, we’ve seen how our investments in innovation can transform an industry and change the world. We know the same is true in the fight against cancer.”

YCC Director Thomas J. Lynch, M.D., sees UTC as an important ally. “UTC’s continued support enables us to broaden and deepen our reach in the fight against cancer, so that we can continue to help improve the lives of people like Mark Reitsma,” says Lynch, the Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professor of Medicine and physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

UTC has more than 215,000 employees worldwide, about 26,000 of them in Connecticut. Its business units produce Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, Sikorsky helicopters, Carrier air conditioning and heating systems, Otis elevators and escalators, UTC aerospace systems, and Kidde fire safety and detection systems.