Three earn the school’s highest honor for non-nurses
September 16, 2022
Michael W. Rohovsky, David A. Rothenberger, and Dee Thibodeau were recognized with the School of Nursing’s Richard Olding Beard Award during a ceremony on Sept. 15.
The Beard Award, which was established in the school’s centennial year of 2009, recognizes non-nurses whose foresight, wisdom and courageous advocacy for the nursing profession have led to better health care for all.
Rohovsky is the former worldwide vice president of Research & Development for Johnson & Johnson, Orthopedics and Neurosurgery. A veterinarian by training, Rohovsky began his career as an assistant professor of veterinary pathology at The Ohio State University before becoming head of pathology at Merrell National Labs and later director of pathology for Arthur D. Little. Recognizing the interconnectivity of animal, human and planetary heath, Rohovsky has been a strong advocate for the expansion of interdisciplinary research and has helped the School of Nursing discover unique synergies in research and adopt more sustainable business practices.
Rothenberger is a physician leader, internationally recognized surgeon, mentor, researcher and former chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota. A lecture series bearing his name at the University is integrated with the curriculum of the Medical School’s Emerging Physician Leaders Program and aims to build on its traditions of health care, leadership and innovation. Rothenberger has been a leader in shedding light on the burnout issues facing health care professionals and a champion of collaboration, mutual respect and the development of interprofessional health care teams to better care for patients. Throughout his career he has been a strong advocate for and valued partner of the nursing profession.
Thibodeau is a senior executive in the information technology industry, a dynamic leader of companies, an experienced board member and an accomplished investor in emerging companies. A natural connector, Thibodeau joined veteran women executives and angel investors to launch the Sofia Fund, which invests in women-led technology and health businesses. She has served on the board of directors of more than a dozen companies and organizations, including M Physicians and M Health Fairview. She has also chaired the Women's Health Leadership Trust and served as board member for the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association. Thibodeau has used her health care and technology experience to advance nursing and create an impact and vision in the health of the community.
Richard Olding Beard
Richard Olding Beard, chair of the physiology program at the University of Minnesota, is credited with bringing nursing into the institution of higher learning when the nursing program was established in 1909 at the University of Minnesota.
Beard passionately advocated for the advancement of nursing believing that educating nurses, rather than training them as had been the practice, would help society recognize the worth of human life, conserve human health and provide for social justice. Historian Deborah MacLurg Jensen has said Beard’s actions were, “a step of the greatest consequence for nursing education.” She proclaimed of his founding the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota, “The final step in the creation of the nursing profession had been taken.”
Past recipients of the Richard Olding Beard Award include Frank Cerra, William Crown, Judi H. Dutcher, Richard Norling, John J. Spillane and Benjamin Mchie.