Two UC Davis School of Medicine faculty members and a dean emeritus of the school have been recognized with the 2015 Hibbard Williams Extraordinary Achievement Award and the C. John Tupper Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
The Williams Award went to Thomas Nesbitt, Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances, and Joseph Silva, Jr., dean emeritus of the School of Medicine. The Tupper Prize was awarded to Colleen Sweeney, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine.
Named for the second dean of the medical school, the Williams Award recognizes exceptional faculty contributions beyond traditional teaching and research roles. One nomination for Nesbitt cited “his exceptional contributions as a physician and member of the family practice faculty, an innovator and founding expert in the field of telehealth, and a leader of UC Davis Health System.”
Another nominator offered reflections on his personal interactions with Nesbitt.
“I was amazed at the time he spent making sure I felt comfortable embarking on a project he had initiated. He dedicated many hours in making sure I was up speed on his project, a project he quickly changed into ‘our project.’” The nominator added, “His passion in alleviating health care disparities is unrelenting, his commitment to education is unfathomable, and his true-to-life interactions with his colleagues are genuine. There are few people that have such a broad and powerful impact on so many lives.”
One nomination for Silva noted that he “worked tirelessly to make UC Davis a leader in clinical care, research and education.” It cited his achievements while serving for 15 years as chair of the Department of Medicine, including the establishment of the Division of Clinical Nutrition, Emergency Medicine and Occupational Medicine; the development of close associations for medical student and residency training with Kaiser Permanente, the Martinez Veterans Affairs Clinic; the establishment of a residency program in emergency medicine; and the expansion of internal medicine faculty from 49 to 123, and fellows from 23 to 65.
“Among Dr. Silva’s greatest contributions is his nurturing of several generations of trainees and junior faculty,” the nomination states. “It takes but a cursory glance at the current UC Davis organizational chart to see Dr. Silva’s legacy. He demonstrates by example what it means to be a doctor, leaders and a human being.”
The Tupper Award, created by the founding dean of the medical school, recognizes sustained and enduring contributions to medical education. An important factor in the selection of award recipients is widespread recognition as an outstanding teacher.
One nomination for Sweeney states that she “has consistently demonstrated a sincere and significant commitment to education and has revolutionized the delivery and quality of medical biochemistry education at UC Davis, both through her own talents as a teacher and through her leadership of other faculty.”
Another nomination praises Sweeney “as an educator who truly cares about her students. Where she entered, excellence followed. She is both a gifted educator and a productive course director. I believe that Dr. Sweeney is a role model for the educational standards that we all hope to achieve.”