Three UTMB employees were honored as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award recipients at the annual luncheon in January on the Galveston Campus.
This year’s recipients, who were selected by the UTMB Diversity Council, included Lorraine Hunter-Simpson, an office manager with Pediatrics Administration; Dr. Jeff Temple, director of Behavioral Health and Research and professor in UTMB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Dr. Oluwarotimi Folorunso, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
The award honors and recognizes the contributions of UTMB faculty, students and staff who promote diversity, inclusion, community partnership, philanthropy and civic engagement. It is presented annually to individuals who carry out King’s dream and have made a profound difference through dedication and service to UTMB and the greater community.
Douglas Matthews, assistant vice president of government relations at UTMB, delivered the keynote address. The first African-American city manager in Texas when he was promoted to that post in Galveston in 1985, Matthews recalled growing up in the island city during the 1950s and ’60s. As a teenager, he helped lead the integration of the city’s two high schools—Ball High and Central High School.
“Teachers at Central High taught us to always strive for academic excellence because you may not be able to control the prejudice of others; however, you can control your response. And a good education was one of the few things that could set a person free,” he said.
UTMB President David Callender congratulated the award winners and encouraged attendees to continue King’s unfinished work.
“We at UTMB find strength in our diversity,” Callender said. “It nurtures our sense of compassion and enables us to fulfill our mission to improve health for the people of Texas and beyond.”
Imelda Wicks, consultant with UTMB’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, read excerpts from the nomination submissions, describing how the three award recipients are fixtures in both the university and in their communities.
Among her achievements, Hunter-Simpson
serves Galveston County with her philanthropic work conducted through the Leah Simone Simpson Scholarship Memorial Foundation, named in honor of her late daughter. Through the foundation, Hunter Simpson provides scholarships to assist transitioning high school students with college expenses.
In addition to serving on several regional, state and national boards, Temple’s
groundbreaking research has engaged community action and service. Most notably, he founded a school-based program that teaches adolescents healthy relationship skills based on some of the same principles Dr. King believed in, said Wicks.
a two-time recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, is known for excellence as a scientist and mentor. He is involved with the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where he works to further the success of minorities. He was key in developing and teaching a new course for undergraduate students in the Joint Admission Medical Program, which supports minority students pursuing careers in medicine.
Dr. Charles Mouton, vice dean of academic affairs in the School of Medicine, closed the annual event by challenging attendees to think like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I think we should take great pride at this institution, setting forth a call, a mission, of doing what I consider to be one of the most noble professions—administering health care to those who need it the most,” Mouton said. “That’s something we should all be truly proud of.”