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Wake Forest awards Dean, Gentry Medallion of Merit, celebrates 175 years


February 26, 2009

At Wake Forest University’s Founders’ Day Convocation Feb. 26, the university presented its highest award for service, the Medallion of Merit, to Dr. Richard H. Dean and Marvin D. Gentry.   The Medallion of Merit was one of many honors bestowed during the event, which also marked Wake Forest’s 175th anniversary.  Several alumni, faculty members and students were recognized for their service, teaching, research, scholarship and athletic accomplishments.

The ceremony featured an address on the history of African Americans at Wake Forest by Anthony Parent, professor of history.  Parent, who joined the faculty in 1989, highlighted prominent individuals, pivotal moments, major events and social trends as Wake Forest addressed desegregation.    

President Nathan O. Hatch presented the Medallion of Merit to both Dean and Gentry.

Dean is president emeritus of Wake Forest University Health Sciences and one of the preeminent vascular surgeons in America. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Military Institute and a medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia.   In 1986, he came to the Wake Forest University School of Medicine as chair of the department of surgery and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center as chief of surgery.  He became the university’s senior vice president for health affairs in 1997, and the first president and chief executive officer of Wake Forest University Health Sciences in 2001.  During his tenure, the clinical and research missions at the medical center grew substantially, and he led an effort that included acquisition of land and expansion of the Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem.

Hatch honored Dean for his “vision, candor and determination,” and his commitment to placing the medical center among the nation’s best.   “In the last years of his presidency, he selflessly gave his crucial support to the integration of the medical center, an event of unequalled importance in its history,” said Hatch.  He also recognized Dean’s “audacious initiative and untiring effort in redeveloping the former industrial core of Winston-Salem.”

Gentry is the former president, chief executive officer and chair of the board of Fortis Homes, one of the region’s largest home builders.  He is a lifetime member of the Wake Forest Board of Trustees, having served on the Health Affairs Committee since 1995 and as its chair since 1997.  Since 1998, he has also served on the board of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, including several times as chair. 

Hatch recognized Gentry for his “remarkable devotion” to Wake Forest.  “Marvin Gentry’s relaxed, affable personality and strong work ethic have characterized his volunteer service to his alma mater,” said Hatch.  Acknowledging Gentry’s long affiliation with the medical school, Hatch said, “Though many had struggled with the complexity of our medical center’s organizational issues, Marvin Gentry was determined to find a solution, now realized with the adoption last year of an agreement that promises improved healthcare delivery and further national recognition of our essential medical enterprise.”

Gentry received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957 from Wake Forest and graduated from Columbia University’s Executive Management Program in 1982. 

Several annual teaching and research awards were also presented.  Sheri Bridges, associate professor in the Calloway School of Business and Accountancy, was awarded the Kulynych Family Omicron Delta Kappa Award for Contribution to Student Life.  The Reid-Doyle Prize for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Christian Miller, assistant professor of philosophy.  The Award for Excellence in Research was presented to both Miller and Martin Guthold, assistant professor of physics.

Three members of the Babcock Graduate School of Management faculty won awards.  The Kienzle Teaching Award was presented to Charles Iacovou, associate professor of management and interim senior associate dean, and the Cowan Faculty Research Prize was awarded jointly to Jack Meredith, professor of management and Broyhill Distinguished Scholar and Chair in Operations, and Michelle Roehm, Board of Visitors Associate Professor of Marketing.

One award went to a member of the Wake Forest School of Law faculty.  Christine Nero Couglin, professor of legal writing and director of the Legal Research and Writing Program, received the Joseph Branch Excellence in Teaching Award.

New student members of the national honor societies Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa were also recognized during the ceremony.  Special recognitions paid tribute to Wake Forest’s field hockey team, which reached the Final Four in field hockey for the ninth consecutive year; the football team, which made its third consecutive bowl appearance and won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history; the men’s soccer team, which won its fourth ACC regular season championship, reached the College Cup for the third straight year, and had six players chosen in the Major League Soccer draft, the most-ever from one school; and the men’s tennis team, which won the doubles championship at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Indoor Tournament, marking the first tennis national championship of any sort for Wake Forest men’s tennis.

Press Contacts:

Pam Barrett
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


Richard H. Dean, Medallion of Merit winner.
Richard H. Dean, Medallion of Merit winner.
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Marvin D. Gentry, Medallion of Merit winner.
Marvin D. Gentry, Medallion of Merit winner.
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