Distinguished Alumni Award

Gerard P. Clancy 83BA, 88MD

2011 Achievement Award

Gerard P. Clancy, 83BA, 88MD, applies his medical expertise and leadership to transform health care—not just for individual patients but for entire communities.

After completing a B.A. degree in biochemistry and a research fellowship in molecular biology at the University of Iowa, Clancy earned his medical degree in 1988. Following in the footsteps of his late father, John Clancy, a psychiatry professor at the UI for 35 years, he became a resident at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

By 1991, Clancy was chief resident in general psychiatry at UIHC. From 1992 to 1995, he served in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of major and head of the Division of Medicine at Ellsworth Air Force Hospital in South Dakota, before returning to the UI. A visit to an Iowa City homeless shelter, where many clients suffered from mental illnesses, sparked a desire to help—as well as the realization that such patients required a new approach. He initiated several innovative, multidisciplinary programs—"hospitals without walls"—that took medical services out into the community.

Such efforts continued throughout his rapidly progressing career (which included graduation in 1997 from the Harvard Executive Program in Health Care Policy and Management), earning him a reputation not just as an accomplished physician but as a champion for the underserved. In 2001, Clancy was named dean of the medical college at the University of Oklahoma. Then, in 2006, he also became president of the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa. An energetic, hands-on leader, he still makes time to teach students and to work with them one evening a week at a clinic that serves the disadvantaged.

In 2008, with a $50 million donation from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Clancy led a successful effort to transform medical education at the school. The OU College of Medicine in Tulsa became the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine. The first of its kind in the U.S., the school focuses on directing the university's many resources—clinical services, medical education programs, research, financial support, and leadership—to improve the health status of all Oklahomans, particularly those in underserved rural and urban populations.

Driven by appalling statistics demonstrating severe healthcare inequities—such as estimates that poorer residents of north Tulsa typically live 14 years less than those in the southern area of the city—Clancy hopes to find solutions to such problems. In 2009, Clancy convened the first National Summit of Urban Health, and he also offered his expertise during the recent overhaul of the American healthcare system.

For such efforts, Clancy has received numerous awards, including the Excellence in Community Psychiatry Award and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The UI College of Medicine honored him several times as an outstanding instructor and in 2005 bestowed upon him a Distinguished Alumni Award for Early Achievement. In 2004, the Oklahoma Medical Association presented him with its Community Service Award, and in 2009, Tulsa People magazine named him Tulsan of the Year.

Through his work at the community, state, and national level, Gerard P. Clancy has demonstrated his devotion to patients and his fidelity to the humane ideals of academic medicine.

Clancy is an annual member of the UI Alumni Association.

About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.

Related Content

Hollywood writer Josh Parkinson leads the inaugural Adaptation for Television course.

The UI student-founded nonprofit has launched endeavors like the 10,000 Hours Show, Mission Creek Festival, and Quire.

L.A.-based artist Charles Ray to receive CLAS Alumni Fellow award, give talks this month. Unpainted sculpture by Charles Ray, 1997, fiberglass and paint, 60x78x171 inches. Photograph by Josh White and courtesy of the Matthew Marks Gallery. Charles Ray (75BFA) was walking through the UI physics and astronomy department one day when he came across an inspiring scene. Ray, an art student whose curiosity extended far beyond the studio, hoped to hitch a ride out to the observatory for some evening stargazing. Instead, he found a group of students constructing a satellite bound for a space mission. "It just blew my mind," recalls Ray. Just as mind-blowing were the sculptures Ray was creating across the river, years before he would establish himself as one of the world's most important artists. For one physics-defying piece, he fashioned a 2,000-pound slab of concrete atop a slender tree trunk. For another, he dropped a massive wrecking ball onto a crumpled steel plate, as if Sputnik had just crashed outside the old Art Building. Charles Ray "It was such a formative experience for me," the Los Angeles-based sculptor says of his time in Iowa City. "It did something to my soul and my brain. Even though I was young, the university and my mentors gave me a great deal of independence. My curiosity was endless." A professor emeritus at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Ray returns to campus this month to speak and receive the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Alumni Fellow award. Rather than just waxing nostalgic about his time at Iowa, Ray has organized a three-day lecture series April 16-18 with two fellow art scholars. Iowa native Graham Harman, a philosophy professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, will open the series by discussing his theory of aesthetics known as object-oriented ontology. On the second day, Ray will speak about the nature of sculptural objects. And Richard Neer, an art historian at the University of Chicago, will bookend the series by lecturing on the question of provenance, or art's origin. Ray will also give a separate public lecture April 17 in Art Building West titled "My Soul is an Object." Recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation, Ray is known for his strange and enigmatic sculptures so loaded with nods to the past that they've been called "catnip for art historians." His 2014 Horse and Rider, for example, is a 10-ton solid stainless steel work in the tradition of a war memorial, but depicts the artist slouch-shouldered atop a weary nag. Ray is also famous for his wry re-imaginings of familiar objects, like the 47-foot-long replica of a red toy fire truck that he parked in front of New York's Whitney Museum of American Art for a 1993 biennial exhibition. Ray and his studio team often spend years working on a given piece, which can fetch as much as seven figures at auction. His sculptures can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other major U.S. museums. Ray is currently preparing for a retrospective show in Paris next year?one of several upcoming international exhibitions. Isabel Barbuzza, UI associate professor of sculpture, describes Ray's work as beautiful and witty, while using scale in unexpected ways. Ray's 8-foot-tall Boy with Frog?commissioned for a prominent spot in Venice, Italy, then removed after some controversy (a version now stands outside the Getty Museum in Los Angeles)?is among Barbuzza's favorites. "His sculptures have a presence you can only see when you're in front of the work," she says. "They're very moving, and to me it's interesting what happens with scale?the viewer relates to the piece in a very profound way." Steve McGuire (83MA, 90PhD), director of the School of Art and Art History, says few others have contributed more to contemporary art than Ray. "This is a big deal for us to be able to celebrate his career," McGuire says of presenting Ray with the alumni fellow award. "I think it's pretty meaningful to him, and of course it's really meaningful for our school." A Chicago native, Ray arrived at Iowa as a gifted artist but hardly a model student. Ray's dyslexia made schoolwork a chore, and his parents had sent him to military school with the hopes of straightening out his academics. It was at the UI, however, where he finally found his language in the studio and, in turn, his footing in the classroom. "Through the syntax of sculpture, I could express myself intellectually for the first time," Ray says. "That gave me a kind of confidence." Ray studied under UI art school pillars like Wallace Tomasini, Julius Schmidt, and Hans Breder. But it was his bond with Roland Brenner?a South African professor and former pupil of sculptor Anthony Caro?that proved to be the most influential. Ray still remembers his first sculpture in Brenner's class, a steel configuration with long stems and discs at the end. Its bouquet-like resemblance didn't sit well with Brenner. "That showed me you made something, but didn't want to discover something," Ray recalls Brenner telling him. "Don't ever do that in my class again." The two would become lifelong friends. Iowa City is a different place today than the 1970s, particularly the transformation of the arts campus after the flood of 2008, Ray says. Still, his visits back to campus over the years always remind him of those crisp and clear Iowa nights at the observatory and gazing out the studio window while exploring the frontiers of sculpture. "It feels like you can see right through the galaxy when you look up," Ray says. Handheld bird by Charles Ray, 2006, painted steel, 2x4x3 inches The UI is home to six pieces by Ray, all found in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building and displayed through the university's Art on Campus program. Among them is Handheld bird, a tiny but ornate piece depicting a creature in an embryonic state. Lunchtime Lecture Series What: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fellow Charles Ray and two guest art scholars?Graham Harman and Richard Neer?will deliver a series of public lectures this month at the UI. When, where: 12:20 p.m. April 16?18 at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More information: events.uiowa.edu/26915 My Soul is an Object: Artist Talk with Charles Ray What: A public lecture by renowned sculptor and UI alumnus Charles Ray When, where: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More about Ray: charlesraysculpture.com/ Support the UI School of Art and Art History

The Iowa Black Alumni Association promotes the general mission and purposes of the University of Iowa.

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Statement unless you have disabled them in your browser.