Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


May 15, 2007

College Of Public Health Honors Four Outstanding Alumni

The University of Iowa College of Public Health has selected four alumni to receive its 2007 Outstanding Alumni Awards. The awards, recognizing outstanding past accomplishments, promise for future success and commitment to the college's mission, vision and goals, were presented at the college's annual honors dinner May 11.

The College of Public Health Outstanding Alumni Awards honor up-and-coming graduates as well as prominent alumni who have been in their field of practice for more than 10 years. Several alumni are recognized each year.

"We're pleased to present these awards to four exceptional alumni," said James Merchant, dean of the College of Public Health. "Their leadership in both research and practice addresses important public health issues, which include cancer, obesity and diabetes prevention, as well as important health care delivery priorities for children's health care and for the organization and governance of health care systems."

This year's recipients of the College of Public Health's Outstanding Alumni Award are:

-- Jessica Davila, assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Davila earned a master of science degree in epidemiology in 1998 and a Ph.D. in epidemiology in 2001. An active researcher, she has authored 23 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has served as principal or co-investigator on several research grants focused on cancer prognosis and cancer care delivery. In both 2002 and 2003, Davila earned a Best Overall Poster Award from the American College of Epidemiology. She serves on numerous journal editorial boards.

-- Jeremiah Garza, health project director with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, Calif. Garza earned a master of public health degree with an emphasis in community and behavioral health in 2002. In his current position, Garza builds partnerships that address public policy issues and raise awareness about obesity and type 2 diabetes among children and youth. He also is conducting innovative work in promoting healthy eating and active living in South Los Angeles, and he is helping to develop and implement a groundbreaking nutrition policy for Los Angeles County facilities. In 2004-05 Garza was named Outstanding Employee of the Year and was honored as the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by the West Los Angeles Children's Planning Council.

-- Randall O'Donnell, president and chief executive officer of Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo. O'Donnell earned a Ph.D. in hospital and health administration in 1977. An internationally recognized leader in children's health care, he has served as CEO of Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics for 14 years. Children's Mercy is consistently ranked as one of the top children's hospitals in the nation and has received magnet designation for excellence in patient care. O'Donnell is recognized as one of the first leaders nationwide to advocate for the psychosocial needs of hospitalized children and their families. He is also known as a key leader in an advocacy effort that created legislation to fund the training of pediatric specialists at children's hospitals nationwide. He recently worked with Guangzhou Children's Hospital in China and lectured at the Sun Yat-sen University.

-- Lawrence Prybil, professor of health management and senior advisor to the dean in the UI College of Public Health. Prybil earned a Ph.D. in hospital and health administration in 1970 and is widely recognized for his contributions as a health care leader and educator. His career in hospital leadership included senior executive roles at Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation in Farmington Hills, Mich., and Daughters of Charity National Health System in St. Louis, Mo., where his work helped to propel both systems to their current stature among the best health care systems in America. Prybil returned to the UI to join the College of Public Health in 1999. He serves on numerous boards and is widely published in the areas of health care ethics, hospital governance and organization. His honors include the 2004 Walter J. McNerney Award for Health System Improvement and the Edwin L. Crosby Senior Fellowship in 2006.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,; Writer: Brandy Huseman.

PHOTOS: Photos for this story are available by contacting Debra Venzke at 319-335-9647.