Drs. Ory, McLeroy receive prestigious title of Distinguished Professor

January 4, 2013
Kenneth McLeroy, Ph.D.

Kenneth McLeroy, Ph.D.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) has named Drs. Marcia Ory and Kenneth McLeroy from the School of Rural Public Health as Distinguished Professor – the most significant award given for recognition of outstanding research and scholarship within The Texas A&M University System.

Distinguished Professors are recognized by their peers as being preeminent world authorities in their fields and for making one or more contributions widely recognized to have redirected the flow of related research or scholarship. The title is bestowed in perpetuity.

Ory, Ph.D., and McLeroy, Ph.D., are the first Distinguished Professors from the school.

“There are only four active faculty members in the entire health science center who have received this recognition,” said Craig Blakely, Ph.D., M.P.H., dean of the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health. “It is a great honor to join such a select group. I distinctly remember our efforts to recruit these two colleagues to Texas years ago. It was evident at the time that they were headed down this path. We are all proud of their achievements and this deserved recognition.”

Marcia Ory, Ph.D.

Marcia Ory, Ph.D.

Dr. Ory is a Regents Professor of health promotion and community health sciences, with an adjunct professorship in the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University. As director of the Program on Healthy Aging, she has made substantial contributions to identifying factors associated with healthy aging, as well as implementing and disseminating evidence-based programs for improving the health and functioning of older adults. Having spent 20 years at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Bethesda, Md., before coming to the TAMHSC, she is credited for helping generate the multidisciplinary study of aging, health and behavior.

Working collaboratively with a variety of community, state and national partners, Dr. Ory has personally advanced the science of public health translational research. She is a key member in many national networks, including the Healthy Aging Research Network and the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, and has previously directed many national research efforts such as Active for Life®, the Health Maintenance Consortium and the Behavioral Change Consortium. She also is known for her excellence in mentoring the next generation of scholars and practitioners, having received the Gerontological Society of America Distinguished Mentor Award.

An international leader in healthy aging, community-based prevention and wellness, Dr. Ory has authored or co-authored more than 10 edited books, 35 book chapters, 20 edited issues in professional journals and more than 240 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Since coming to the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health in 2001, she has contributed to more than 300 presentations at international, national, state and local venues. Twenty-one articles have been cited more than 100 times, and another 22 have been cited at least 50 times. Her 2002 article, “Setting the Stage for a New Century of Health Behavior Change Research,” has been recognized as a highest-cited paper by Essential Science Indicators. Additionally, she has generated more than $1 million annually in expenditures for research and service.

Dr. Ory currently is principal investigator (PI) on two falls prevention grants funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two National Council on Aging contracts to examine the national effectiveness of chronic disease self-management programs for older adults, and a Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services evaluation of the reach and effectiveness of “Texercise.” She is co-PI on a Robert Wood Johnson-funded statewide evaluation of childhood obesity prevention policies in Texas and the academic partner for the NIA-funded Community Research Center for Senior Health.

Dr. McLeroy is a Regents Professor of health promotion and community health sciences and previously served as the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He is well known for applying social ecology to health promotion and public health, as well as his work on community-based interventions and program evaluation.

Dr. McLeroy is PI on the CDC-funded Prevention Research Center (PRC) the Center for Community Health Development and previously served as PI on the National Institutes of Health-funded Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, a program targeting rural and minority health disparities research. The 37 PRCs work as an interdependent network of academic, community and public health partners to conduct prevention research, strengthen the ability of communities and universities to collaborate on efforts to bolster population health, and to train and mentor future leaders in public health and community-based health promotion.

Dr. McLeroy has authored 68 referred publications in top-tier journals; eight themed issues in referred journals; six books and book chapters; and 90 editorial forwards, book reviews and other scholarly publications. One of his articles on social ecology has been cited more than 1,800 times in the professional literature.

Sought as a speaker at national and international conferences, Dr. McLeroy has made more than 180 professional presentations and served on a number of scientific boards and review committees, including grant review panels, for the National Cancer Institute, CDC, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, United Kingdom Medical Research Council, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, National Center for Research Resources, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and others.

Dr. McLeroy currently serves as editor of the Framing Health Matters Department for the leading journal in public health – the American Journal of Public Health – as well as editor of the Social Health Section for the American Journal of Health Promotion, associate editor of the Journal of Primary Prevention and on a number of journal editorial boards.

Nominations for Distinguished Professor can be made by any TAMHSC faculty member and are provided to the vice president for research and graduate studies, who convenes a review panel of current Distinguished Professors to consider the candidates. Chosen candidates then are recommended to the TAMHSC president for approval.

Distinguished Professors not only bring honor and recognition to the TAMHSC but also comprise a body of individuals with expertise and desire to be a resource for the institution’s progress. The president and vice president for research and graduate studies meet with Distinguished Professors at least semiannually to discuss opportunities for the advancement of research and scholarly activity. The nominating college also provides a one-time $5,000 award as a bursary in a TAMHSC account on his/her behalf to facilitate academic and research endeavors.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell