Graduation ceremonies planned for five schools on Sunday, June 15
Commencement services for five Loma Linda University schools will be held in Drayson Center on Sunday, June 15.
Beginning the day-long commencement services will be ceremonies for the School of Science and Technology and the School of Religion. Speaking at the 8:00 a.m. graduation will be David R. Williams, PhD, professor of African and African American studies, School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston.
Following at 10:30 a.m. will be commencement services for the School of Nursing. Speaking to the graduates will be Cecily L. Betz, PhD, director of nursing training, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Speaking to graduates of the School of Allied Health Professions will be John E. Lewis, PhD, professor of pathology and human anatomy, Loma Linda University School of Medicine. Commencement services for allied health physical therapy graduates will be held at 1:00 p.m., followed by services for the remaining departments at 3:30 p.m.
Ending the day will be commencement services for the School of Public Health. The guest speaker will be Poki Stewart Namkung, MD, chief medical officer for the Santa Cruz [California] County Health Service Agency.
Dr. Williams is a product of Christian education. His elementary and high school education was completed on the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia. Subsequent undergraduate and graduate degrees were earned at Caribbean Union College; Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan; Loma Linda University; and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Prior to accepting his current academic appointments at Harvard University—Norman professor of public health and professor of African and African American studies and sociology—he served for six years on the faculty of Yale University and for 14 years on the faculty of the University of Michigan.
Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized authority on the social influences of health. In addition to more than 150 scientific papers published in professional sociology, psychology, medicine, public health, and epidemiology journals, he has made presentations at key scientific conferences in Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and across the United States.
In 2006, he was rated second most-cited black author in the social sciences by the journal Black Issues in Higher Education.
Dr. Williams is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the recipient of an inaugural Decade of Behavior Research Award, was conferred an honorary doctorate by Andrews University, and was honored as Alumnus of the Year by the LLU School of Public Health.
For nearly two decades, Dr. Williams has been involved in the development of health policy at the national level. In 1992, he was appointed by the Bush administration to a four-year term on the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics. In 1993, he served in an advisory capacity to President Clinton’s Task Force on Health Care Reform. He has provided Congressional testimony on health issues and has served on six panels for the Institute of Medicine.
Dr. Williams has appeared on national television, including ABC’s Evening News, CNN, PBS, C-SPAN, and the Discovery Channel. His research has been featured or he has been quoted in the national print media The New York Times, TIME magazine, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Jet, and USA Today.
Dr. Betz is director of nursing training and director of research at the University of Southern California Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and acting associate professor of clinical pediatrics at University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
In addition to more than 150 publications to her credit in nursing and specialized topics pertaining to the care of children and adolescents with special health care needs, Dr. Betz has authored and edited 10 nursing textbooks that have undergone five international translations. She is the founding editor and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pediatric Nursing: Nursing Care of Children and Families, which is the official journal of two major pediatric nursing associations––the Society of Pediatric Nurses and the Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society.
Dr. Betz has served on numerous professional, state, and national advisory boards that address the needs of children and youth. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and was recently honored by the Society of Pediatric Nurses as the recipient of the 2008 Margaret S. Miles Distinguished Service Award.
Dr. Lewis––who was born and reared in Kenya of British parents––immigrated to the United States at the age of 20. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the Graduate School (now Faculty of Graduate Studies) of Loma Linda University.
In 1964, Dr. Lewis began his college teaching career at San Bernardino Valley College, where he remained professor and chair of the biology and microbiology departments until 1988. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in 1973 by the University of California at Irvine, where he engaged in the isolation and identification of hormones of the immune system. After completing his postdoctoral studies, he joined the department of pathology and laboratory medicine (School of Allied Health Professions at Loma Linda University) in 1974 as an instructor in the medical technology program and as supervisor of the microbiology section of the clinical laboratory.
From 1988 to 2000, Dr. Lewis chaired the department of clinical laboratory science in the School of Allied Health Professions.
Dr. Lewis’s academic and research interests have been in the area of immunology and microbiology. He was internationally recognized for his development of radioimmunoassays for the monitoring of antibiotics. His original contributions to science include eight book chapters, 28 papers, and more than 40 abstracts. In addition, he is a locally, nationally, and internationally recognized expert in the field of HIV/AIDS. He has lectured not only throughout the United States, China, Russia, Japan, Australia, and extensively in Africa, but also to diverse professional and community groups and in a variety of settings—including prisons, junior and senior high schools, colleges, and community service organizations.
Dr. Lewis’s professional and personal contributions have been acknowledged on numerous occasions: the School of Medicine’s Zapara Excellence in Teaching Award, American Association of Clinical Chemistry’s Outstanding Speaker Award, Loma Linda University School of Medicine’s Outstanding Faculty Award, and Walter E. Macpherson Society’s Basic Science Teacher of the Year Award. In 1999 he was named LLU Alumnus of the Year.
Dr. Namkung is a first-generation immigrant who, prior to earning the bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, was a political activist for many years. After completing the doctor of medicine degree at the University of California at Davis and a one-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology, she chose to give priority to family and childrearing.
During a hiatus from her profession, she involved herself in the life of the community through service on many boards and commissions—including chairing the parent-teacher association and the parks and recreation commission for the city of Berkeley. Her volunteer activities reflect her long-standing and abiding interest in the health of her community, with a particular interest in the well-being of women and children.
In 1993, she returned to her professional career—first completing a master’s of public health degree in epidemiology and subsequently a preventive medicine residency from the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health. She is board certified in preventive medicine and public health administration.
Dr. Namkung became health officer of Santa Cruz County in June 2005, and she was elected president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in July 2006. She is the bioterrorism sentinel monitor for California and has served on many NACCHO committees and work groups, including Mobilizing for Action Through Planning and Participation, the Workforce and Leadership Development Advisory Committee, and the Operational Definition Task Force.
Prior to accepting the position of health officer for Santa Cruz County, Dr. Namkung was health officer and director of public health for the Berkeley public health department. In 2003, the California Public Health Association–North honored Dr. Namkung with its Public Health Leadership Award.
By Richard Weismeyer