Jane K. and Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. Faculty Leadership Development Award
FOSTERING NEVADA'S FUTURE
Jane K. and Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D.
Faculty Leadership Development Award
by CHRISTINE SEIBER ’15
Reinforcing their commitment to philanthropy, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Dean Thomas Schwenk and his wife, Jane, want to encourage faculty members to hone their leadership skills.
Established in April 2020, the Jane K. and Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. Faculty Leadership Development Award will support a UNR Med faculty member who holds an associate or full professor appointment to improve their leadership attributes and roles in medical schools, communities and professional organizations.
The Schwenks are funding the award annually so it may be given as early as the fall 2020 semester. Additionally, the couple’s estate plans provide for a gift that will convert the fund to a permanent endowment.
“I think the nice part about doing it this way — as opposed to when we’re gone — is it allows recipients to see that this is something they can actually think about doing themselves and passing that forward,” Jane Schwenk said.
A year-long national leadership program is what ultimately brought the Schwenks to Nevada in 2011. Participating in the program motivated Dr. Schwenk, who was chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan for 25 years, to consider medical school dean positions.
Before departing for Nevada, the Schwenks established a similar leadership development fund for the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan. They anticipate UNR Med faculty will see the same positive results.
“Organizations and institutions do ebb and flow according to effective leadership and not-so-effective leadership,” Dr. Schwenk said. “This is particularly true in medical schools, where physicians in particular don’t necessarily come along thinking of themselves as leaders and don’t come along with leadership training and don’t come along with leadership backgrounds and yet are frequently pulled into responsibilities that sometimes become quite large as one’s career grows.”
Dr. Schwenk has led UNR Med’s efforts in medical education, patient care, research and community engagement as vice president for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. Jane Schwenk found herself in small-setting leadership scenarios in her 40-year clinical dental hygiene career. The Schwenks agree that formal leadership training can help people gain confidence.
“It’s all about people,” Dr. Schwenk said. “It’s all about mentoring, supporting, developing and encouraging people to rise to new levels of influence.”