The 2012 Kansas University Endowment Chancellors Club awards have honored public administration professor and former Lawrence Mayor John Nalbandian for his teaching career and Richard Barohn, chairman of the KU Medical Center’s neurology department, for his research.
KU Endowment announced the award winners Monday morning.
Nalbandian has been a KU faculty member since 1976, and he was a Lawrence City commissioner from 1991 to 1999, serving as mayor twice during that span. He has received numerous state and national honors for his work as a professor and as an elected official, but he said the Chancellors Club honor topped them all because it came from the place where he’d worked for so long.
“After 35 years, they know all the bruises, all the positives, all the negatives about this guy,” Nalbandian said. “They know everything, and so to get an award like this is the culmination of a wonderful set of teaching experiences.”
He said that since 1976 he’s taught virtually every student who’s gone through the KU master’s program for people aiming for careers in local government — a program currently ranked No. 1 in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Rosemary O’Leary, a distinguished professor at Syracuse University who’s been hired to join the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration in 2013, was once a student of Nalbandian’s. In a release, she said his classes changed her life.
“Out of the nearly 100 professors I had while earning my degrees, John Nalbandian easily stands out as the best,” O’Leary said.
Often along with his wife, Carol, Nalbandian has provided consulting and training services for dozens of government organizations, including the cities of San Antonio, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C. He is on the board of the Willow Domestic Violence Center, and he’s a former chairman of the Lawrence Public Library Board of Trustees.
Barohn, the winner of the research award from the Chancellors Club, has been the chairman of the neurology department at the KU Medical Center since 2001.
According to a release, Barohn’s research has included the development of treatment trials for neuromuscular diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
He is a principal investigator for a nearly $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that the Medical Center received in 2011, devoted to translating scientific discoveries into treatments. He is also director of KUMC’s Frontiers: the Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, which was funded by that NIH grant.
Robert Griggs, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center who nominated Barohn for the honor, said in a release that his leadership of the KUMC neurology department had also made a huge impact.
“In the 11 years since he assumed the chairmanship of the Department of Neurology, Dr. Barohn has taken a small, good department and transformed it into an academic powerhouse with internationally recognized programs in multiple subspecialities of neurology,” Griggs said.
The Journal-World was unable to reach Barohn on Monday for comment on the honor.
Nalbandian and Barohn were honored at an event Friday, and both will receive a $10,000 prize provided through the KU Endowment.