April 13, 2011

Dunnington earns Outstanding Teacher Award

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A professor and department chair of surgery at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is the winner of this year’s Outstanding Teacher Award.

The University is honoring Dr. Gary Dunnington for his outstanding contributions to training new surgeons in the art of surgery and medicine. The award is part of SIUC’s annual Excellence Through Commitment program, which highlights top achievers at the University.

Chancellor Rita Cheng will host a reception in the winners’ honor on April 19 at Morris Library. The University established the Excellence Through Commitment program in 2003. The awards recognize excellence in the performance of faculty, civil service, administrative/professional, graduate student, and student employees.

As the University’s top teacher for 2011, Dunnington will receive a certificate, the title of distinguished teacher and a designated parking spot for one year.

An SIU faculty member since 1997, Dunnington’s colleagues nominated him for the honor based on several factors, including his teaching philosophy, his impact on students, his use of innovation in teaching and assessment and the quality of his teaching efforts.

Dr. J. Kevin Dorsey, dean and provost of SIU School of Medicine, said Dunnington chose early in his career as a physician to be as professor of surgery. The decision has benefited his students, residents and members of his profession ever since.

“Students uniformly praise Dr. Dunnington for his teaching abilities, both in the practice environment in the operating room and in the didactic environments,” Dorsey said. “Several students call him the best instructor they have had. They describe his ability to engage them in the operating room and in the classroom, and several stated that their encounters with him cause them to want to become surgeons, sometimes even despite their previous goals as physicians.

“Dr. Dunnington serves as a role model to students, residents and peers,” Dorsey said.

A native of Indiana, Dunnington earned his Bachelor of Science in 1976 at Ball State University. He studied medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, graduating in 1980 and completing an internship and later a residency at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, finishing in 1985 and winning several awards along the way.

Dunnington is board certified by the American Board of Surgery. He is active in dozens of professional organizations, serving on committees and in leadership positions and has received millions of dollars in grants to further his research and teaching initiatives. He also has authored more than 100 articles, abstracts, book chapters and book reviews and many more invited lectures and presentations.

After completing his residency, Dunnington served as an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Arizona until 1989 when he became an associate professor of surgery at the University of Southern California. He served as senior associate dean for academic affairs at USC from 1996 to 1997 before coming to SIU School of Medicine as a professor of surgery that same year.

Dunnington has won a dozen teaching awards, including outstanding faculty teaching awards eight times at three different institutions. He also is the winner of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award, a prestigious award honoring top medical educators nationwide.

Dunnington also is well known for his ability to attract other top medical educators to his department, Dorsey said.

“Several faculty members have joined the Department of Surgery specifically because they wanted to be involved in education and educational research with Dr. Dunnington,” he said. “(He) is truly and extraordinary educator. His dedication spans all levels of physician education and is local, national and even international in its influence.”