December 2002 Bulletin

Orthopaedist’s "stellar"career honored

University of Kentucky names building after D. Kay Clawson, MD

By Carolyn Rogers

Orthopaedic surgeon D. Kay Clawson, MD, of Lexington, Ky., received a unique birthday gift on his 75th birthday—the University of Kentucky (UK) chose that day to name a four-story wing of its ambulatory care center the "D. Kay Clawson Pavilion" in his honor.

D. Kay Clawson, MD, right, and his wife, Nan, "do the honors"

Dr. Clawson, dean of the UK College of Medicine from 1975 to 1983, was informed of the honor this past June; he says it "came as a total surprise."

More than 100 friends, family and colleagues attended the August 12, 2002 ceremony, including his wife of 50 years, Jan, and family members from Kentucky, Seattle and Massachusetts. Numerous university officials lauded Dr. Clawson, including the former university chancellor who hired him in 1975. "It was a great occasion," Dr. Clawson says.

"A fitting tribute"

The selection of the building named in Dr. Clawson’s honor was "a fitting tribute," says Emery Wilson, MD, current dean of the UK College of Medicine. Dr. Clawson was the driving force behind the funding and construction of the Kentucky Clinic during his tenure as dean, Dr. Wilson explained.

"Without the proper infrastructure, we could not even hope to become a top-20 public research institution," Dr. Emory said. "During his tenure, Dr. Clawson worked tirelessly to raise funds for the ambulatory care center and several other additions to the medical center, helping it to become what it is today."

While serving as dean, Dr. Clawson also "reformulated the medical practice plan, appointed a number of outstanding department heads and center directors and enhanced the administration of the college by establishing positive relationships with the student body," Dr. Emory said.

First orthopaedist to serve as dean

Dr. Clawson’s tenure as dean was notable for another reason as well. In 1974, he was the first orthopaedic surgeon to become a medical school dean. Later, he was the first orthopaedist to become a university executive vice chancellor. Today, he is still the only orthopaedic surgeon to be elected to the Council of Deans or to chair the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Dr. Clawson says many orthopaedists and others don’t realize "I had a whole career in orthopaedics before coming to Kentucky. I was at the University of Washington for 17 years and chaired the department of orthopaedics there from 1965 to 1975," he says.

Once in Kentucky, however, Dr. Clawson says his attention soon focused on securing funding for the construction of the Markey Cancer Center, starting a new problem-oriented curriculum and establishing the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation—a practice plan that was revolutionary in its time.

Educational Achievement Award

Just six weeks after receiving the UK honor, Dr. Clawson was feted again, this time by the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA).

On September 23, 2002, the KMA presented Dr. Clawson with the 2002 Educational Achievement Award, an honor bestowed each year on a Kentucky physician or other person who has made a significant contribution in medical education.

"Doctor Clawson is a consummate scholar, clinician and medical educator whose professional career is extraordinary," said KMA president Donald R. Neel, MD, as he presented the award. "He has been sought by teaching centers literally around the globe for his clinical talents and teaching skills."

Dr. Clawson was selected to receive the award for the focal role he played in the core development of national programs to refine medical excellence and promote the educational process.

As Dr. Neel told the crowd, "Dr. Clawson’s honors and publications would fill a book." His list of professional activities is equally impressive and extensive. To name just a few, Dr. Clawson was a founding member of both the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine and the Association of Orthopaedic Chairmen. He served as chairman of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons and as president of the Harvard Medical Center Alumni Association. He has also served on the AAOS executive committee and on various other Academy committees throughout the years.

"Dr. Clawson is truly a protean physician," said Dr. Neel in his concluding remarks. "A noted scholar, educator, clinician and medical statesman, he has helped pioneer many seminal events in the development of education in this country."

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