A rare honor for a longtime leader


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By Jan Jarvis

Dr. Yorio
 
Thomas Yorio, PhD, wears his lucky frog tie on days that matter – when UNT Health Science Center sought to establish various new schools, for example.

He was wearing that tie March 7 when President Michael R. Williams announced that the UNT Board of Regents had bestowed the unique honor of Provost Emeritus on Dr. Yorio in recognition of his commitment to UNTHSC. The title of Emeritus is one of the highest honors the UNT Board of Regents may confer to a faculty member.

Dr. Williams, who was once Dr. Yorio’s student, said the long-time educator has made numerous contributions to UNTHSC and touched many lives over his 40-year career.

“He has a real heart for people, and that has been demonstrated through his leadership,” Dr. Williams said during a reception.

Dr. Yorio, who stepped down as provost in October 2016, thanked everyone at the reception for giving him numerous opportunities to learn from them during his career.

“All of you – the faculty, staff and the students who have worked tirelessly over the years to achieve success,” he said. “That’s who really needs to be honored.”

Dr. Yorio was recognized for his pivotal role in transforming an osteopathic medical school into a graduate university with multiple schools.

He joined UNTHSC as an eye researcher in 1977, just seven years after the university was founded as the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. He served as Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, which he helped found.

Dr. Yorio Dr Williams

He also started the first Research Appreciation Day, was a driving force in the creation of the pharmacy school and served as Interim Dean of the School of Public Health. In 2008 he was named Provost.

“I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to build my career in one place, serving in different capacities and been involved in the development of the Health Science Center,” Dr. Yorio said. “But more importantly, it was to have had the opportunity to work with outstanding colleagues in our faculty, staff and students. Without their dedication, what we have today would not have happened.”

Dr. Yorio said he was most proud of the doctoral students and postdocs he was able to mentor.

“They were so important in my growth as well as theirs,” he said. “They not only challenged conventional thinking but they were eager to search for new approaches and apply critical thinking skills. I really cherished those interactions.”

Dr. Yorio’s expertise in glaucoma pharmacology has won him international recognition. He is a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, where he served as a Trustee and Vice President and received its Distinguished Service Award. In 2014, he received the Ernst H. Barany Prize from the International Society for Eye Research in recognition of his outstanding contributions to ocular pharmacology.

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