VCU to hold 21st Convocation

Four faculty members to be honored for outstanding accomplishments

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University will honor four outstanding faculty members during the 21st Convocation ceremony. The annual event is the formal opening of the academic year and acknowledges the quality and excellence of VCU faculty by honoring professors who will receive awards for distinguished teaching, scholarship, service and overall excellence.

Dr. Eugene P. Trani, VCU president, will deliver the keynote address at the Convocation, to be held Wednesday, Sept. 10 at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 922 Park Ave.  University faculty and staff are invited to attend the Convocation reception at 4:30 p.m., and the ceremony that follows at 5:30 p.m. 

The 2003 Distinguished Faculty Award recipients are:

  • Lester Van Winkle, School of the Arts

    Distinguished Teaching Award

    A professor in VCU’s Department of Sculpture for 34 years, Van Winkle played a major role in the development of the graduate sculpture program that is ranked first in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, Van Winkle has served as mentor and guide to students in all levels of the program from freshman foundation courses, through beginning and advanced sculpture, to graduate level seminars and studios.

  • Nicholas P. Farrell, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences 

    Distinguished Scholarship Award

    Farrell, professor of inorganic chemistry, is an internationally recognized leader in the field of platinum chemistry. He came to VCU in 1993 with an established reputation in the field of bioinorganic chemistry. In a brief time, he succeeded in assembling a research group. His most notable achievement to date is the design, synthesis and development of the first genuinely novel platinum-based drug to enter clinical trials since the chemotherapy treatment, cisplatin,  thirty years ago.

  • JoAnne K. Henry, Ed.D., R.N., School of Nursing

     Distinguished Service Award

    Henry, director of the University Office of Health Policy and Research, has been a VCU faculty member for more than 25 years. She has worked to advance health care of the traditionally un-served and underserved. As director of the Community Nursing Organization, the service unit of the school charged with  responsibility for developing new models of nursing practice and community partnerships, she has received about $700,000 in foundation grants to support community and outreach activities.

  • Earl F. Ellis, Ph.D., School of Medicine

    University Award of Excellence

    Ellis, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, is director of VCU’s M.D./Ph.D. program, where his responsibilities include recruitment, admissions, orientation, counseling, faculty mentor recruitment, scheduling program events, student evaluations and budgetary issues. Ellis has been a major contributor to VCU’s multidisciplinary research team studying traumatic brain injury. He recently invented a novel approach to study the effect of traumatic injury on individual brain cells in tissue culture, where physicians can perform biochemical and functional studies on the processes of brain injury.

For more information on the honorees, visit

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see