Distinguished Alumni Award

David J. Skorton

2019 Friend Award

David J. Skorton, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and former president of the University of Iowa, is one of the nation's most ardent champions of the sciences, arts, and humanities. Throughout his distinguished career in medicine, higher education, and government, he has advocated for the support of education and the arts as a wise investment in the success of the country.

Skorton began his affiliation with the UI in 1980, serving over 20 years on the medicine and engineering faculty. A board-certified cardiologist, he co-founded the UI Adolescent and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic, one of the first in the nation. His pioneering research on cardiac imaging and image processing continues to influence the cardiology field.

Respected for his tremendous vision and insight, Skorton was appointed the 19th president of the UI in 2003. During his presidency, Skorton set Iowa on a path of innovation that included revitalizing the International Writing Program and implementing the Year of the Arts & Humanities and Year of Public Engagement.

"David remains a true leader and representative of all that is treasured in higher education."

Skorton's quickness to grasp complexity, assemble effective teams, and inspire action make him a highly sought-after leader. In 2006, he left Iowa to assume the presidency of Cornell University. Then, in 2015, he was appointed the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian, where he oversaw 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and education programs. In July 2019, he became president and CEO of the AAMC, which represents the nation's medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies. Skorton also is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Bringing integrity, authenticity, and generosity to all his endeavors, Skorton embodies the core values of Iowa. As John C. Keller, dean of the UI Graduate College, says, "David remains a true leader and representative of all that is treasured in higher education."

About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.

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