The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation selected a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston professor as a 2019 Piper Professor.
Dr. Carolyn Utsey, a professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at UTMB, was honored with the prestigious award and received a $5,000 grant from the foundation. The Piper Professor Awards were first introduced in 1958 and honor effective and dedicated professors from two- and four-year colleges and universities in Texas.
“Many individuals influenced my faculty career as they encouraged and mentored me throughout my professional development,” Utsey said. “I am thankful for these individuals and the many opportunities that I have had to teach, encourage, and mentor. The Piper Professor award is truly an honor for me.”
Utsey, who has worked at UTMB for the past 28 years, began her career in health care as a physical therapist before earning her PhD in Educational Psychology. In her nearly three decades at UTMB, Utsey has served as a teacher, mentor and friend to students and colleagues alike.
Dr. David L. Callender, president of UTMB, said the award was a great honor but should not come as a surprise.
“Dr. Utsey exemplifies all the traits you want from a professor and a leader in education of the next generation of health care professionals,” Callender said. “She is passionate, caring, driven and we are fortunate to have her here at UTMB.”
In letters of recommendation sent to the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, Utsey was described as a selfless leader, encouraging mentor and an inspiring professor.
“I have been able to see her serve others in so many unique ways, but the common denominator in all of it is that she serves them with her whole heart,” one of the letters states. “You can see her passion for helping others through her actions, you can hear it through her words, and you can experience it by learning from her.”
Among her many different roles, initiatives, and undertakings, Utsey also helped lay the foundation for the Global Health Interprofessional course at UTMB and was instrumental in developing the career advancement Physical Therapist Assistant to Physical Therapist clinical doctorate program, one of only two like it in the nation.
“She truly is a role model in developing innovative curriculum and learning opportunities to meet student and community needs,” Dr. Vicki Freeman, a professor and chair of the Clinical Laboratory Sciences department at UTMB, told the selection committee.