Presidential Medallion

The Presidential Medallion was established in 1984 by the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors to honor the outstanding contributions of members of the university community. Presented by the president at Commencement, the award recognizes these individuals for extraordinary achievement in learning and commitment to the mission of VCU.


Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D.

Kenneth Kendler Headshot [View Image]

Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., Rachel Brown Banks Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, is a professor of human genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his medical and psychiatric training at Stanford and Yale universities, respectively. Since 1983, he has been engaged in studies of the genetics of psychiatric and substance use disorders. He has utilized methods ranging from family and large sample population-based studies to molecular genetic studies aimed at identifying specific genes that influence the vulnerability to schizophrenia, alcoholism, depression, personality disorders and drug abuse. Data collection for these studies has been completed worldwide. 

Kendler has published over 1,200 articles, with his work being cited over 175,000 times. He has received numerous national and international awards, is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and is editor of Psychological Medicine. He is also vice chair of the American Psychiatric Association DSM Steering Committee. Since 1996, he has served as director of the Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. 


Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H

Steven Woolf Headshot [View Image]

Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H, is director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he is professor of family medicine and population health. He holds the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Distinguished Chair in Population Health and Health Equity. Woolf has edited three books and published more than 200 articles in a career that has focused on raising public awareness about the social, economic and environmental conditions that shape health and produce inequities.

He works to address these issues through outreach to policymakers and the public. Woolf received his M.D. from Emory University and completed residency training in family medicine at VCU. He is also a clinical epidemiologist and earned his M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University. He is board certified in family medicine and in preventive medicine and public health. Woolf served on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2001. 

Student Speaker 

This year, VCU will feature an inaugural student speaker for the virtual commencement celebration. The addition of a student speaker will provide a unique opportunity for graduates to take part in this special celebration and highlight the tremendous work that has been accomplished. 


Solomon Workneh 

Solomon Workneh Headshot [View Image]Solomon Workneh is a Class of 2020 graduate from the School of Business who is receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems. Outside of his work and education in technology, Solomon served as a mentor for incoming Business students and is a member of the Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity and VCU Intervarsity Quidditch Club. Solomon hopes to one day serve as a software engineer and is a native of Arlington, Virginia. 

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