College of Arts and Sciences honors 2015 Hall of Fame inductees

By Rae Yen Tan

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The College of Arts and Sciences inducted five people to its Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Friday afternoon.

Dean Mark Kornbluh presented inductees Dr. David Johnson, Roger Di Silvestro, Linda Gill, , Bobbie Ann Mason, and Kevin Kiernan with medallions to commemorate the event.

“They’re selected for their accomplishments that also reflect well on University of Kentucky,” said Rich Schein, a geography professor and chairman of the Geography Department.

Dr. Johnson graduated from UK with a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1970 and a master’s degree in botany in 1972. Johnson has won several awards for his research in advancing effective therapies for lung cancer, including the Distinguished Southern Oncologist Award from the Southern Medical Society and the Freedom to Discover Award from Bristol Myers Squibb.

“When you think of all the men and women who’ve attended this university, it’s truly amazing to be included among a very select group of inductees.” Johnson said. “Without my family’s support, I wouldn’t be standing before you.”

Di Silvestro graduated UK in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He was the CEO for Athlon Sports Communications, a company focused on sports marketing and publishing, and he co-wrote “The Art of Constructive Confrontation” in 2005, a guide on how to make “productive personal and professional relationships with reduced conflict.”

“I think employees are victims of bad training,” Di Silvestro said during his speech. “They’re chewed out for things they weren’t shown to do.”

Di Silvestro said when he first came to UK in 1965,  he thought he would never get out alive. He said now it feels good when his peers recognize him for the work he has done.

Gill graduated from UK with a bachelor’s degree in Math and Chemistry in 1962. She and her husband, Jack Gill, are interested in cardiovascular science and medicine.

“Jack has founded more than a dozen medical companies, and I’ve been a volunteer for over 40 years in cardiovascular (intensive care units) at Stanford, Harvard,and Houston Methodist,” said Gill, who also said she and her husband returned to UK to create the Gill Heart Institute with the desire to provide better heart health care for all Kentuckians. She said that the medical professionals at Gill Heart Institute are the real heros.

“They’re the ones who treat people with bad hearts,” Gill said. “I accept this award on the behalf of the Gill Hart Institute medical professionals.”

Mason graduated UK in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Mason’s writing has won many awards — her first fiction book, “Shiloh & Other Stories,” won the PEN and Hemingway Award Her writing has won the Kentucky Book Award and the southern Book Critics Circle Award.

“It’s a very great honor,” Mason said of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “One I never would have imagined when I was a student.”

Kevin Kiernan is a senior professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. He was chairman of the department from 1986 to 1990.

In collaboration with students and colleagues at UK, he established the Collaboratory for Research in Computing for Humanities, which serves as a framework and support network for faculty members who launch projects in the digital humanities. Kiernan’s first book, “Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript,” refashioned the dating Beowulf, making him the manuscript’s leading authority.

“I have a close connection with UK,” Kiernan said. “My kids have degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences, so it’s nice to feel that I was appreciated.”

Many faculty members of the College of Arts and Sciences were at the ceremony to support the inductees, including Dick Jefferies, an associate professor of anthropology.

“I think they have outstanding accomplishments,” Jefferies said.