Longtime Faculty Members Honored at Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony

Game-changers on the cutting edge. That was the theme of the 2019 Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony Monday evening when Norman J. Altman, V.M.D., Donald Spivey, Ph.D., and Harry W. Flynn, Jr., M.D., were honored by their colleagues for outstanding service, teaching, and scholarship.

Following an introduction by University of Miami Provost Jeffrey Duerk, the three eminent professors were described as “hidden jewels of the University” by Faculty Senate Chair Tomás Salerno, who emceed the ceremony that was attended by more than 200 faculty, trustees, and senior administrators.

Dr. Altman, professor emeritus in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Miller School of Medicine, was honored first with the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award, presented to members of the University community who go above and beyond the call of duty. He currently serves as ombudsperson of the Miller School, and director of the division of comparative pathology.

JoNell Potter, Ph.D., professor of clinical obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, introduced Altman as “a man of great integrity and honor,” and cited Altman’s passion, and compassion, as two of his most admirable traits. She shared how Altman and his wife quietly became a second family and advocate for a teenage paraplegic who was the victim of a random gunshot wound and underwent 30 surgeries.

“As a colleague, he actively listens, and advises when asked,” Dr. Potter said. “Stand up and do it for the good of the institution,” is how she described his impact at the University.

Dr. Altman, a landmark researcher who has held many significant roles at the University including vice-provost for research, director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and director of the National Institutes of Health Primate Center, said in his acceptance remarks that his favorite title is “professor.”

“Service is what we do with, and for others,” said Dr. Altman, who has served on numerous Faculty Senate committees, was speaker and chair of multiple committees on the Medical School Faculty Council, and instituted a University-wide compliance program. He also served on committees for the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences, and as a consultant to the World Health Organization. Dr. Altman has co-authored more than 130 publications and seven books, and served on the editorial boards of three journals and as a reviewer for eight.

The Faculty Senate’s Outstanding Teaching Award was presented next to Donald Spivey, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Department of History and Cooper Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences. It recognizes outstanding teaching by a faculty member with a substantial record of teaching at the University.

Hermann Beck, professor of history and also a Cooper Fellow, introduced and praised Dr. Spivey’s “multifaceted, relevant, and highly engaging teaching style.” Returning the compliment, Dr. Spivey joked, “Being in a department of such fine colleagues, you have to teach well or they will make you look bad!”

An expert in American history, Dr. Spivey previously received a Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity. He is one of the leading scholars in the field of African-American history, with nine authored or edited books to his name. His team-taught course on “The Sixties” is one of the most popular at the University; over 1,000 students have taken the course since its inception in 2000, and 248 faculty from all 11 schools and colleges have been invited to co-teach the class. Dr. Spivey invites enrollees in the course to join a sixties-style band to learn the music first-hand and said, “One-hundred and eighty-nine have answered the call – mostly from the medical campus. Someone needs to do a study about why so many doctors are closet musicians!”

Outside of the University of Miami, Dr. Spivey is a frequent lecturer, commentator on radio and television, and contributor to publications. He has received the Robert Peterson Recognition Award, and was selected as the Top Black Educator of South Florida by Legacy Magazine.

The evening’s final award, the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, was presented to Harry W. Flynn, Jr., M.D., professor and J. Donald M. Gass Distinguished Chair in Ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the Miller School of Medicine.

Stephen G. Schwartz, professor of clinical ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer, introduced Dr. Flynn, an early mentor of his; they first met in 2003 when Dr. Flynn was the keynote speaker at a conference in Virginia and Dr. Schwartz was a young faculty member at another medical school.

“When I joined Bascom Palmer, there wasn’t anyone on the faculty that did more to encourage me, invite me to lectures, and make introductions than Dr. Flynn,” said Dr. Schwartz. “He would always take my phone call, and was never too busy to talk, or advise me. I can say without a doubt, if not for him, I wouldn’t be where I am at Bascom Palmer. And, hundreds of others could tell you the same thing.”

Dr. Flynn joined the University of Miami in 1978 at the behest of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s founding chairman Edward W. D. Norton, M.D. He is now one of the leading ophthalmologists and researchers in the country. “It is unbelievable and joyous to receive this award,” Dr. Flynn said. “When Dr. Norton interviewed me, he told me, ‘We have plenty of retina specialists. We need someone to take on the really tough cases.’ I said, ‘I’ll scrub the floors, I’ll wash the walls, if you give me the chance.’ He offered me the job. And I’m still enthusiastic!”

During his 41 years, Dr. Flynn has trained hundreds of ophthalmology residents and retina fellows, and is recognized as a world leader in the care of patients with vitreoretinal diseases such as retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, and severe infections of the eye (endophthalmitis). He has authored or co-authored more than 571 peer-reviewed publications, 106 book chapters, and eight textbooks, and has delivered 31 named lectures around the world. He received the 2011 University of Miami Medical Group’s Faculty Hero Award, the 2012 Bascom Palmer Professor of the Year Award, and countless other awards outside the University.

“If I can see farther, it is because I stand on the shoulder of giants,” Dr. Flynn said in closing, acknowledging Bascom Palmer, M.D. who performed the first-ever corneal implant, and his mentor, Dr. Norton.

“If you can enjoy what you do and have a positive impact, it doesn’t get any better,” Dr. Flynn said.

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