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A Grand Affair gala honors medical school faculty and students

January 27, 2020

By Anne Christiansen-Bullers

Professor and student shaking hands in front of dark curtain
Associate Professor Peter DiPasco shakes hands with medical student Kennedy Kirkpatrick (M2, Wichita). DiPasco was a finalist for the Rainbow Award and also was presented with the Top Surgery Clerkship Attending Award.

Students and faculty from the University of Kansas School of Medicine had the opportunity to honor excellence and to celebrate their years together during the annual awards gala A Grand Affair.

A Grand Affair is presented by the Medical Student Assembly and the Office of Student Affairs. For 2020, the event was held Jan. 18 in the Kay Barnes Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.

During the event, faculty members were honored for outstanding teaching and mentoring. The awards are determined by the student body of the School of Medicine, under the direction of the Medical Student Assembly Student Voice Committee.

Rainbow Award

This year, Jennifer Villwock, M.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology, received the Rainbow Award, which is the night's pinnacle prize. The Rainbow Award honors individuals who exemplify professionalism in medicine and the willingness and capacity to share those attributes with the students they mentor.

Dr. Jennifer Villwock

Dr. Villwock received the Rainbow Award for 2020. The award honors the highest level of teaching.

Villwock specializes in head and neck surgery in the Division of Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery. Medical education is one of her three main research areas, and she currently has a grant to investigate personality-based mentorship and professional-development curricula for medical students.

Villwock was unable to attend A Grand Affair, so she delivered her remarks via a video screened for the audience. "This reward is so meaningful to me because it comes from the students," she said. 

"Every day I'm inspired and challenged by the medical students I work with. ... I know that the future of medicine is bright, and I'm so glad you've let me be a part of that," Villwock said.

Finalists for the award also included:

  • Christopher Crenner, M.D., Ph.D., chair of history and philosophy of medicine
  • Laurel Witt, M.D., M. Phil., assistant professor of family medicine
  • Peter DiPasco, M.D., FACS, associate professor of surgery
  • Richard Korentager, M.D., chair of plastic surgery

A video honoring the finalists was also shown.

Sunflower Award

The Sunflower Award was created to honor part-time physician educators who often balance educating medical students with maintaining a practice.

This year's winner, Jennifer Jackson, M.D., teaches at the KU School of Medicine-Wichita, practices internal medicine in Wichita, and is an alumna of the KU School of Medicine.

Ad Astra Award

Bonnie Charles Smothers, M.D., was named winner of the Ad Astra Volunteer Physician Award. Students named her an outstanding preceptor who generously gave her time, experience and knowledge to medical students. The family medicine physician has her practice in Wichita.

Excellence in Residency Award

The Excellence in Residency Award was bestowed upon Jackie Herzberg, M.D., obstetrics and gynecology. For this honor, students choose a resident who demonstrates exceptional student mentoring.

Finalists also included:

  • Benton McGivern, M.D., internal medicine
  • Connor Brass, M.D., ophthalmology
  • Jarrod Cullan, M.D., internal medicine
  • Maha Mohamad, M.D., internal medicine (Wichita)

Visionary Awards

And lastly, the Visionary Awards recognize foresight, imagination and leadership within and outside of KU Medical Center. Showing vision for 2020 were:

  • Kansas City - Jason Sokol, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology
  • Salina - Tyler Hughes, M.D., FACS, director of medical education
  • Wichita - Rick Kellerman, M.D., chair of family and community medicine

Sign on stage saying "A Grand Affair"

Last modified: Jan 27, 2020