Students Recognize Outstanding Teachers with 2012 Paff Awards

To pay tribute to one of the Miller School’s most memorable faculty members and recognize the outstanding faculty who uphold his spirit, students awarded 15 George Paff Teaching Awards on April 11 to faculty they admire for imparting medical education with the kind of dedication, compassion, excellence and zest Paff made famous.

Among the winners, selected by a vote of students in each class, were J. Donald Temple, M.D., associate professor of medicine and director of the William J. Harrington Medical Training Programs for Latin America, who collected a record 24th Paff Award, this year from the Class of 2014, and Maureen Lowery, M.D., professor of medicine, who received two awards, one from the Class of 2014 and another from the M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2015, the first Paff award bestowed by students in the new four-year dual degree program.

“We are a close-knit group and we are especially close to our professors,” said Anthony D’Andrea of the M.D./M.P.H. class, who praised Lowery for being “pragmatic, highly efficient, committed,” and for possessing “the ability to personalize cases” when teaching.

Temple, who has seemingly forged a permanent path to the awards podium, told students he considered himself fortunate.

“I’m a lucky guy,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to be doing what I love to do. I want to thank you for allowing me to be part of your education.”

The awards ceremony, which took place at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s Jose Berrocal Auditorium, also honored an intern and a resident among the Paff winners, as well as two outstanding senior medical students, Veronica Penyak, who was awarded the Janet Canterbury Award, and Joshua Moore, who won the Thomas Crowder Award. Both awards are named for former faculty members.

Addressing the audience of faculty, students and staff before the awards were bestowed, Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., said that the annual Paff ceremony indicates that faculty members are “passionate and talented” about what they do and students continue to be “satisfied customers,” both important barometers for good medical schools.

“The Paff Award is a really important recognition because it is coming from our students,” Goldschmidt said. “They recognize the excellence of members of our faculty who have had an enormous impact on our students as they learn the medical profession. I thank you all for your dedication and commitment.”

Earning the Paff Awards from the M.D. Class of 2015 were Carmen Gomez, M.D., professor of clinical pathology; Richard Riley, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology; and Thomas Champney, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology and anatomy. In presenting Champney’s award, William Burns, president of the Class of 2015, shared some of the professor’s qualities, including that he “teaches with enthusiasm” while interjecting “humor when necessary.”

In addition to the honors to Lowery and Temple, the Class of 2014 also presented a Paff Award to Warren Kupin, M.D., professor of medicine, who reminded students to “pay it forward” as they pursue their medical careers.

The Class of 2013’s Paff Awards went to Fahim Habib, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, who said he was “humbled to be in this group;” Nadia Amin, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine; and Christopher Estes, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Speaking on behalf of the Class of 2012, senior class president Vivian Urbieta said the class “could not have accomplished what we have without our great teachers and mentors.” The class presented its Paff Awards to Janice Maldonado, M.D., assistant professor of clinical neurology; Amar Deshpande, M.D., assistant professor of medicine; and Christian Diez, M.D., assistant professor of clinical anesthesiology.

“We all know that great teachers wouldn’t be here without great students,” Diez said as he thanked the students. “You are the reason we come to work.”

Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education and associate professor of medicine, introduced the awards ceremony as a “time-honored tradition.”

“The faculty selected by the students for this year’s awards are nothing less than stellar,” he said. “They are representative of the incredible group of dedicated teachers we have at the Miller School, and their passion for teaching is infectious.”

Stacy Lieberman, M.D., a first-year resident at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital was presented with the intern Paff Award (she won the 2011 Janet Canterbury Award when she was a medical student), and Ying Zhuge, M.D., a general surgery resident, was honored with the resident Paff Award.

This year’s Paff Teaching Awards ceremony was organized by Pamela Leone, M.P.H., Class of 2014, and Melissa Stone, Class of 2015.

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