The School of Medicine recognized Betty M. Drees, M.D., with the unveiling of a bronze sculpture honoring her long-time role as dean during a ceremony on Sept. 18. Drees stepped down as dean in 2014, after 13 years in the position.
The unveiling ceremony coincided with an event to recognize School of Medicine faculty who earned promotions and tenure for the 2015 academic year. The event also included the presentation of faculty and student awards for excellence in diversity and in mentorship.
Dean Steven Kanter, M.D., recognized Drees as an intelligent and caring leader and the consummate professional. “Through her guidance and leadership, the school stands ready to take on the challenge of the coming years,” he said.
Drees was appointed dean of the School of Medicine in 2003, after serving two years as interim dean and one year as executive associate dean. She joined UMKC as associate dean for academic affairs and docent physician in 1998. From 2007 to 2008, she served as the University’s interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Under her leadership, the UMKC School of Medicine graduated more than 1,000 new physicians, increased research funding, and improved student success and retention. Drees saw the launch of new departments and programs, and completed expansions, renovations and upgrades throughout the medical schoo’s facilities. Under her care, the School of Medicine secured funding for seven new endowed chairs and professorships.
John Foxworth, Pharm.D., professor of medicine and assistant dean for faculty development, and Vincent Barone, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics, received the Dr. Betty M. Drees Excellence in Mentoring Awards.
Foxworth received the Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award, given to a professor at the School of Medicine. He is an active mentor for residents and students in research efforts and has been a member of the School of Medicine faculty since 1983. He served on the faculty council as chair and is currently chair of the faculty development committee.
Barone received the Excellence in Mentoring Award, recognizing an associate or assistant professor. He serves as associate director of the developmental and behavioral sciences medical fellowship at Children’s Mercy Hospital. He is also the director of developmental and behavioral sciences at the Children’s Mercy South.
The Excellence in Diversity and Health Equity in Medicine awards were presented to two honorees: Jim Stanford, associate professor of medicine and Blue 5 Docent, and the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association. The honors recognize the sustained and impactful contributions to diversity, inclusion, cultural competency or health equity by a student or student organization and by a faculty, staff, resident or department.
Stanford is an infectious disease expert who has devoted a large portion of his clinical career to serving low-income adults living with or at risk of HIV and AIDS. He has served as research director for the Kansas City AIDS Research Consortium, provides care for HIV positive patients, and works with endocrinologists at Truman Medical Center to provide quality care in a culturally appropriate way for transgender patients. His clinical practice includes a growing number of patients who experience significant health disparities due to mental illness, substance abuse, poverty and low health literacy.
The Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association has successfully fostered a diverse environment of education and learning for impoverished citizens, underprivileged children and those at risk for Hepatitis B. With more than 150 student volunteers, the organization has worked with local Vietnamese, African American, Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani communities, as well as the Kansas City African Chamber of Commerce that serves residents from 34 African nations. Through events including free health fairs and the wordwide Hepatitis Awareness Month, students have provided health care services for the community. Students also gain teaching and role modeling experience through these efforts.