Park University President Michael H. Droge, Ph.D., has been honored by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, as its 2012 Distinguished Alumnus. The honor, given to Droge for achievements in his professional career, was presented at the GSBS-UTMB's commencement ceremony on May 4.
After graduating as valedictorian from Stanley (Kan.) High School, Droge earned bachelor's degrees in biology and German at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, in 1973. He became a Fulbright Scholar that year and studied at the University of Bonn, Germany, returning to the United States to earn a master's degree in zoology at Texas Tech University in Lubbock in 1976. He earned his doctoral degree in physiology and biophysics from UTMB in 1982.
Droge said the timing of the award is particularly special to him, as May marks the 30th anniversary since receiving his doctorate. In addition, his wife, Molly Droge, M.D., earned her medical degree from UTMB.
"The University of Texas Medical Branch remains an excellent medical school, as well as graduate school in biomedical sciences," Droge said. "I am truly humbled to receive this award."
While working on his doctorate, Droge received support from the National Institutes of Health pre-doctoral training funding for studies in the Marine Biomedical Institute. Upon completion, Droge was awarded UTMB's James Beall Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in a doctoral program. His postdoctoral training was in neuroscience at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. From his appointment as assistant professor and biology program coordinator in the Department of Biology at Texas Woman's University (first at Dallas and later at the Denton main campus), Droge became associate professor and then full professor within 10 years. He was founding director in 1997 of the Center for Undergraduate and Graduate Research Support at TWU. Three years later, he became dean of graduate studies and research.
"Dr. Droge has been an asset to UTMB from the time he began his graduate work," his nomination letter reads. "He has continued to excel and is currently an internationally known leader in education and educational arenas. Throughout his entire tenure, Dr. Droge has maintained his commitment to excellence and his appreciation for the education he received at UTMB. He continues his focus on students and remains the humble servant that he was when his career began."
In 2002, Droge became provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Park University and became the University's president in 2009.