VCU honors outstanding faculty, student scholars

Virginia Commonwealth University’s 32nd annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation honored outstanding faculty and recognized some of the university’s best student scholars.

Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU; John Wiencek, Ph.D., interim provost and vice president for academic affairs; Sheldon Retchin, M.D., CEO of the VCU Health System and senior vice president for health sciences; and Barry L. Falk, Ph.D., dean of the VCU Honors College, spoke during the ceremony, which took place Aug. 20 at the Siegel Center.

Rao recognized faculty members for their commitment to research, scholarship, human health and community engagement and thanked them for inspiring and empowering students.

“Hard-working, highly motivated students from every background must always have access to our unique educational experience,” Rao said. “Our mantra will always be, ‘If you can get into VCU, you can succeed at VCU.’”

Awards were presented to eight faculty members who have distinguished themselves and the university through their commitment to excellence, service, teaching and scholarship.

Robert L. Balster, Ph.D., School of Medicine; Eugene Hunt, Ph.D., emeritus faculty member from the School of Business; and James H. Revere Jr., D.D.S., School of Dentistry, received the Presidential Medallion, which is awarded for extraordinary achievement in learning and commitment to the mission of VCU.

Brian Ohlinger, retired associate vice president for Facilities Management, received the President’s Award of Excellence. Tom De Haven, Department of English, College of Humanities and Sciences, received the University Award of Excellence.

Mark A McHugh, Ph.D., School of Engineering, received the Distinguished Scholarship Award. Reni Gower, School of the Arts, received the Distinguished Teaching Award. Marc P. Posner, M.D., School of Medicine, received the Distinguished Service Award.

The ceremony also recognized nearly 1,400 University Student Scholars, who have achieved junior-level status and are on track to receive Latin honors when they reach commencement.

“On a day when we celebrate the achievements of many of your colleagues, the student scholars in the audience are a great reminder that — at our core — our students and their success is the reason we are all here,” Wiencek said. “Having some of our most outstanding students and our faculty in the same space today is a visual representation of the synergy between student success and faculty excellence.”

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