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Kwasigroch receives national award for teaching

Dr. Tom Kwasigroch

JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 4, 2015) – Dr. Tom Kwasigroch, the associate dean for student affairs at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine and professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, has received an award from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Kwasigroch earned The Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award from the AAMC for his efforts in medical education since joining ETSU in 1979.

“Dr. Kwasigroch started on our faculty during the freshman year of our very first class, and has taught every single one of our graduates,” said Dr. Robert Means, dean of the Quillen College of Medicine. “We all are pleased he is being recognized on a national level for all that he has done in his 30-plus year career here at Quillen. It is an honor to have him on the faculty.”

During his time at the medical school, Kwasigroch has taught and mentored thousands of students and has worked with six of Quillen’s seven deans. He is the most awarded faculty member at the medical school, having received more than 50 awards. He is a 14-time winner of Professor of the Year at Quillen and is also a five-time recipient of the Gender Equity Award from the American Medical Women’s Association. He was recognized nationally as a McCann Scholar for Excellence in Mentoring and Teaching in 2005.

Kwasigroch has cultivated a reputation for being on the leading edge of education. In 2012, as director of teaching programs in gross anatomy, he obtained iPad technology for each dissection table to integrate educational apps that maximize learning in the anatomy lab. He has hosted visitors from other schools seeking to gain insight into how they can adopt similar innovations. In 2013, he was the first at ETSU to flip the classroom to encourage active learning and enhance students’ ownership of their education.

Kwasigroch and his colleagues currently are conducting research on innovative embalming procedures to provide more realistic learning experiences for continuing medical education programs.

As associate dean for student affairs, Kwasigroch obtained spin bikes for Quillen and is a champion for the Professional and Academic Resource Center, which provides free, broad-spectrum counseling to students. His office established the “Quillen Showcase,” where medical students and faculty display their skills in arts and entertainment. He also was the motivational force behind the construction of the Student Study Center, a modern student learning center.

Kwasigroch served with the 6th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C., and as a first lieutenant, infantry platoon leader, company executive officer, and battalion liaison officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal.

He received his Ph.D. in anatomy and embryology from the University of Virginia and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Freie Universität-Berlin in Germany.

“I have been incredibly blessed throughout my career. I have had wonderful mentors, both academic and military, over the years who guided my development. Also, I have had constant support from the administration at Quillen to follow my dreams and do my part to help make the education of our students second to none in the country,” Kwasigroch said. “At Quillen, we have engaged, delightful, dedicated students who are doing their best every day and who strive to continue to improve their learning skills so that they are ‘better tomorrow than they were today.’ As faculty, we owe it to them to be trying at least as hard as they are to make this all work.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to the AAMC, National Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the student members of the local Delta Chapter of AOA at Quillen for their support of me for this award. I am humbled by and appreciative of this recognition.”

Kwasigroch will accept the award at the annual AAMC conference in Baltimore later this month.

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