ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — University of New Mexico President Bob Frank has chosen two recipients for this year’s UNM Presidential Awards of Distinction: Gov. Susana Martinez and Dr. Howard Yonas, a distinguished professor and chair of the school’s Department of Neurosurgery.
“Both Gov. Martinez and Dr. Yonas have made critical contributions to the health and well-being of New Mexicans; one through policy, the other through practice,” Frank said in announcing the pair. “I am pleased to recognize their outstanding accomplishments and to express the high regard we have for the impact they have made on the lives of so many in our state.”
In selecting Martinez and Yonas, Frank focused on their work on health care. Yonas is helping develop a telemedicine network to bring specialized care where there has been none. Martinez is being recognized for her efforts to expand health care coverage in the state under new federal laws and regulations.
The Republican governor, Frank noted, worked with the Democrat-controlled Legislature,to establish a health care exchange and increase the number of health care providers in rural areas. She also help reform Medicaid, providing basic health care and preventive medical services for 200,000 additional low-income New Mexicans.
“At the time, she was only the second Republican governor to do that,” Frank said.
Yonas is a nationally recognized cerebrovascular surgeon who was instrumental in forming the Department of Neurosurgery at UNM. He has initiated several key neuroscience projects, including the development of a state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit and a multi-specialty outpatient clinic.
Also, under his leadership, the UNM Health Sciences Center recently received a $15.1 million grant to test a statewide telemedicine network for stroke and brain-injury patients.
“With this cutting edge approach, Dr. Yonas and his team are basically bringing a neurosurgeon to hometowns across New Mexico,” Frank said. “UNM will be able to provide face-to-face consultations via the Internet with doctors, patients and their families who live in parts of the state that lack this specialized care.”
Frank will present the awards – bronze medallions – during the commencement ceremony in December.
Martinez and Yonas are the third and fourth recipients of the award, which Frank established last year to recognize outstanding career achievement, scholarly excellence, leadership in a profession, noteworthy public service or humanitarian endeavor. The first recipients were Steve R.J. Brueck, a distinguished professor of electrical engineering and physics, and Cleve Moler, emeritus professor of computer science.