2021 Presidential Award recipients recognized

After being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the Presidential Awards resumed this year to honor UT Health San Antonio faculty and staff for their commitment to excellence and dedicated response to COVID-19.

The ceremony, held April 14 in the Holly Auditorium, recognized 17 individuals and three teams with awards given in the areas of employee excellence, teaching excellence (sustained and emerging), clinical excellence, and for distinguished research scholar and distinguished service to the institution.

The ceremony was among the first in-person campus events and was physically distanced without a sit-down dinner. It was an appropriate way to celebrate exemplary service to the university and the community during the pandemic, said President William L. Henrich, MD, MACP. Still, he said, he nearly cancelled the event because of another reason — how many were deserving of an award.

“There is a case to be made, a strong case to be made, that literally a thousand other people were also meritorious in deserving Presidential Excellence Awards,” he said.

“I want to make it clear to everybody that these award winners represent all of us. They represent the best performance and the best effort in each of us.”

As well as a plaque and monetary gift, the recipients were acknowledged with a congratulatory Senate Proclamation from the State of Texas.

Recipients of the 2020 Presidential Awards were also in attendance to be recognized, in-person, for their excellence in serving the institution’s missions of education, research, patient care and community engagement. View the 2020 Presidential Awards video here and awards program here.

The 2021 Presidential Award recipients are:

Distinguished Service to the Institution
Robert Leverence, MD, FACP, Professor of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer, UT Health Physicians, Long School of Medicine

Distinguished Research Scholar
Thomas F. Patterson, MD, FACP, FIDSA, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Long School of Medicine

Clinical Excellence
Jason E. Bowling, MD, FIDSA, Associate Professor/Clinical, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Long School of Medicine
Laura Novak, OTD, OTR, BCG, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Professions
Raj Sehgal, MD, Clinical Associate Professor and Section Chief of Hospital Medicine (VA), Department of Medicine, Long School of Medicine
Cindy Sickora, DNP, RN, Clinical Professor, Howard & Betty Halff Endowed Professorship in Nursing Excellence for Patient Care, Vice Dean of Practice and Engagement, School of Nursing
Luis C. Yepes, DDS, MS1, Assistant Professor/Clinical, Department of Comprehensive Dentistry, School of Dentistry

Teaching Excellence
A.J. Carpenter, MD, PhD, Professor/Clinical and Program Director, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Long School of Medicine
Brian L. Mealey, DDS, MS, Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Periodontics, School of Dentistry
Haley Nation, PhD, Assistant Professor/Clinical, Department of Cell Systems and Anatomy, Long School of Medicine
Meredith Quinene, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, Assistant Professor, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, School of Health Professions
Heidi J. Worabo, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP, Associate Professor/Clinical, School of Nursing

Employee Excellence
Jennifer Cerecero, MS, CHP, LMP, Director, Radiation Safety, Office of Environmental Health and Safety
Albert Contreras, SHRM-CP, PHR, Manager, HR Service Delivery, Office of Human Resources
Stephanie R. Gutierrez, BA, Program Coordinator-Senior, School of Medicine Office of UME
Ellen Nystrom, BA, Director, Veteran Services and Financial Aid, Office of Financial Aid
Elizabeth Walton, Clinical Information System Analyst-Senior, UT Health Physicians Administrative EPIC Practice Management

Team Excellence
COVID-19 Clinical Trials Response Team
Robin Tragus, MSN, RN, Clinical Research Nurse Supervisor, Department of Medicine/Infectious Diseases, Team Leader
44 Team Members

COVID-19 Rapid Response Testing Team
Marjorie David, MD, Assistant Professor/Clinical, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Team Leader
24 Team Members

Environmental Health and Safety Team
Michael A. Charlton, PhD, CHP, LMP, CIH, CSP, Assistant Vice President, Office of Risk Management and Safety, Team Leader
21 Team Members

Recipients and attendees may view and download photos of the awards ceremony for free here. Photo prints can be ordered through this platform, or downloaded and printed at a location of choice.

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