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Med School Professor Erik Hewlett Receives State’s Outstanding Faculty Award

University of Virginia School of Medicine professor Dr. Erik Hewlett has received the state’s highest honor for college faculty.

Hewlett, a professor of medicine, infectious diseases and international health at the School of Medicine, is one of only 12 educators selected by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to receive a 2013 Outstanding Faculty Award. The award recognizes accomplishments in teaching, research and public service.

“I am deeply honored to be chosen for this award, especially knowing and reading about my colleagues at the University of Virginia and at other institutions in Virginia who have received this recognition,” Hewlett said. “I love all the aspects of my work at the University – teaching, research, clinical medicine and development of translational research – and appreciate very much the opportunities that I have had in the course of these activities.”   

In a letter of support for Hewlett’s nomination, School of Medicine Dean Dr. Steven T. DeKosky described Hewlett’s service to the University as “legendary.”

“What is most impressive to me is the impact that he has made as a teacher,” DeKosky wrote. “There is no better teacher than one who is actively expanding the body of knowledge in that discipline.”

Hewlett’s research focuses on bacterial toxins. He runs a National Institutes of Health-funded research lab in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health. His teaching has earned him both the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence (in 1991, the first year it was given) and the U.Va. Alumni Association’s Distinguished Professor Award in 2012.

“My relationship with Dr. Hewlett, spanning over two decades, has evolved from teacher-student, to mentor-student, to advisor-junior faculty member, to faculty colleague,” wrote Dr. Bradley W. Kesser in a letter of support for Hewlett’s nomination. “At each step of this evolution he has provided instruction, guidance and mentorship to me as I navigated my way from medical student to resident to junior faculty member. I knew I had made it as a faculty member when he asked that I call him Erik.”

Hewlett has been with the School of Medicine since 1980, and he served as associate dean for research from 1992 to 2010. He has played a vital role in the enhancement of research at the School of Medicine, working to establish an environment where commercial partnerships and technology development can thrive. During his tenure as associate dean, the school’s annual research funding more than tripled and the amount of research space more than doubled.

Hewlett is a member of the board of directors of the U.Va. Licensing and Ventures Group, formerly known as the U.Va. Patent Foundation, and he served as the group’s chairman for seven years. He also works with the U.Va. Innovation group to promote entrepreneurship, commercialization and technology licensing at the university.

Hewlett has developed and directed a variety of popular courses and programs, including the Medical Student Summer Research Program. He played a critical role in the establishment of U.Va.’s highly successful “Mini Med School,” which educates local residents about medical topics. Participants often cite the program’s “research lab visit” component, which Hewlett created, as a highlight.

In announcing this year’s Outstanding Faculty Awards, SCHEV Director Peter Blake saluted Hewlett and the 11 other recipients as “extraordinary educators who help make Virginia’s system of higher education among the finest in the nation.”

“These individuals strengthen their respective communities and the entire commonwealth through their commitment to teaching, research and service,” he said. “They serve as an inspiration to us all, both in and out of the classroom.”

This year marks the 27th anniversary of the awards program, which is co-sponsored by the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Dominion energy company.

This year’s 12 recipients were selected from 109 applications. The winners each will receive $5,000 in cash, underwritten by the Dominion Foundation, and an engraved award during a ceremony at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond in February.

Hewlett is the 32nd U.Va. faculty member to receive the honor.

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