There was plenty to celebrate on Saturday night when more than 100 alumni and guests gathered for NEOMED’s second annual Alumni Association reunion and awards dinner. Among the hugs, attendees also shared their excitement about the advancements being made at NEOMED that offer alumni more opportunities than ever: public-private research/businesses partnerships at the REDIzone, mentoring opportunities, external experiences and more.
At a dedication ceremony preceding the dinner, everyone had the chance to salute Dr. Albert Cook II (’90) and Dr. Paul Cook (’91) for a gift that resulted in University Hall being named in the brothers’ honor as Cook Alumni Hall. The Hall is located on the University’s campus in the NEW Center, a multi-use facility that serves students, the University and the public.
The awards dinner recognized four honorees, including Dr. Robert Liebelt, whose former student Joseph Zarconi, M.D. (’81) said fondly that he ‘’worked tirelessly for all of us’’ and ‘’will always be known as ‘my dean.’’’
Here’s a look at the evening’s honorees:
- Kim Sterns, M.D. (’85), a team physician for the Cleveland Indians, took alums on the road (first road trip ever!) to Phoenix and Goodyear, Arizona to watch the Indians during Spring Training. Dr. Sterns stepped up to provide the group with special access, pictures, autographs and a tour. He was recognized with the Alumni Association Appreciation Award.
- Janice Spalding, M.D. (’87) has distinguished herself as a teacher and student advocate who demonstrates an unflagging commitment to eliminating disparities in healthcare for medically underserved populations. She was instrumental in developing the underserved track at Cleveland State University and is currently developing a rural track to recruit from underserved rural populations. Dr. Spalding was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award.
- The Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Robert A. Liebelt, M.D., Ph.D., the charter dean of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Dr. Liebelt held many key positions at NEOMED. Also known as Akron’s second Dr. Bob (the first being a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous), he has made his mark with his teaching about addiction and at age 90, continues to lecture on the topic.
- The evening’s highest honor went to Andrew Schoenfeld, M.D. (‘03), who was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Schoenfeld serves as an assistant professor and the director of spinal surgery research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. An Army Veteran who served in Afghanistan with the 115th Combat Support Hospital, he was honored with the Bronze Star and contributed important work on combat-related spinal injuries among American military personnel. Dr. Schoenfeld is deeply involved in research on healthcare disparities related to African-American veterans.
At a meeting before the dinner, the alumni board formally endorsed the Shine On capital campaign, which aims to raise $40 million by June 30, 2018. The board also agreed to establish an Alumni Association endowed scholarship, in conjunction with the campaign. For some lucky students down the road, that will be more cause for celebration.