Dec. 17, 2015
Two Virginia Commonwealth University faculty members have been named recipients of the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Awards, a statewide honor recognizing excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration and public service.
The award, which is sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Dominion Resources, has been bestowed annually since 1987 to faculty members of Virginia’s public and private institutions of higher education.
Among this year’s 13 recipients are Lawrence B. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., the Charles and Evelyn Thomas Professor of Medicine in the VCU School of Medicine, and Everett L. Worthington Jr., Ph.D., the Commonwealth Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology of the College of Humanities and Sciences.
We are proud that these outstanding faculty members have received such an esteemed honor for their many important contributions as teachers, researchers and public servants.
“We are proud that these outstanding faculty members have received such an esteemed honor for their many important contributions as teachers, researchers and public servants,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “VCU is fortunate Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Worthington have served on our faculty for so many years. Their influence on our students and community has been tremendous.”
Schwartz, chair of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, joined VCU’s faculty in 1983.
“I was delighted to have been chosen as a recipient of this faculty award, which reflects the contributions of the many students and colleagues with whom I've had the privilege to work,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry from Washington University before completing an internal medicine residency at Barnes Hospital and fellowships in allergy and immunology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and diagnostic laboratory immunology at VCU.
Schwartz has received numerous awards for research and technical innovation. In March, he received the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s Distinguished Scientist Award for his work to advance the treatment of allergic disease through his groundbreaking contributions to understanding the mechanisms and significance of mast cells.
Among the accomplishments of Schwartz’s research laboratory are the discovery, purification, cloning and characterization of human α/β tryptases, development of immunoassays for tryptases as biomarkers of disorders involving mast cells, identification of in vitro conditions for the development of human mast cells from progenitors and for culturing tissue-derived human mast cells, and the identification and characterization of different types of human mast cells. Physicians around the world now use the measurement of tryptase as a biomarker to assist with the diagnoses of systemic mastocytosis and systemic anaphylaxis, to monitor mast cell cytoreductive therapy and to assess anaphylactic risk.
Worthington said he was thrilled by the SCHEV honor, and that it has been a “great run in a great Department of Psychology and a great university.”
“Without my colleagues, graduate and undergraduate students, and my family and friends, this certainly could not have happened,” Worthington said. “I'm honored to be one of those representing VCU in the eyes of the commonwealth of Virginia.”
Worthington, a clinical psychologist, has published more than 350 scholarly articles and chapters and more than 35 books and is an internationally recognized expert in the field of forgiveness and reconciliation. His writing and research has focused on forgiveness, as well as other virtues, religion and spirituality, and issues related to marriage and family.
He began studying forgiveness scientifically in 1990. From 1998 to 2005, he directed “A Campaign for Forgiveness Research,” a nonprofit organization that awarded more than $6 million toward forgiveness research. And he has worked to nurture researchers studying forgiveness in several foreign countries.
In 1996, Worthington’s mother was murdered, prompting him to begin thinking about how the practice of forgiveness relates to justice, faith and virtue. Worthington, along with his brother and sister ultimately forgave the murderer, but the emotional fallout took a toll, and his brother committed suicide in 2005. Since then, Worthington has incorporated his own feelings of guilt and self-condemnation into his research on self-forgiveness.
In addition to Schwartz and Worthington, the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award recipients include:
- Jacqueline E. Bixler, Ph.D. Alumni Distinguished Professor of Spanish Virginia Tech
- Maj. John A. David, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics Virginia Military Institute
- April L. Hill, Ph.D. Professor of Biology and Clarence E. Denoon Professor of Science University of Richmond
- Michael F. Hochella Jr., Ph.D. University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences Virginia Tech
- William C. Hughes, Ph.D. Professor of Physics James Madison University
- Charles E. Hyde, Ph.D. University Professor of Physics Old Dominion University
- Jennifer G. Kahn, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Anthropology College of William and Mary
- James R. Kirkwood, Ph.D. Professor of Mathematical Sciences Sweet Briar College
- Sabita Manian, Ph.D. Professor of International Relations and Political Science Lynchburg College
- Jonathan A. Noyalas Assistant Professor of History Lord Fairfax Community College
- John P. Swaddle, Ph.D. Professor of Biology College of William and Mary
The recipients will be recognized at a Feb. 16 ceremony at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, at which they will be addressed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Each award includes an engraved plaque and $5,000 underwritten by the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources. Dominion is the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power.
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