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Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Awards 2019 Alumni Medallions

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently honored four alumni who have distinguished themselves in their respective professions and demonstrated service and dedication to their communities and to the University. The four individuals received the biennial College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Medallion at a special celebration at the Inn at Villanova on Oct. 3, 2019.

David S. Wilkes, MD, ’78 CLAS received the 2019 Rev. Kail C. Ellis, OSA Alumni Medallion, named in honor of the Rev. Kail C. Ellis, OSA, PhD, assistant to the President, Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and associate professor of Political Science. Emily Felsenthal ’10 CLAS and Jennifer Park ’08 CLAS are the recipients of the 2019 Young Alumni Medallion, which recognizes undergraduate alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years. Hugh Davis ’85 PhD, ’83 MS, P ’13 was honored with the Graduate Alumni Medallion, which recognizes an alumna or alumnus of the College’s master’s or PhD programs. The awards are bestowed on individuals who demonstrate a great capacity for creativity, innovation and contribution to the common good.

David S. Wilkes, MD

David S. Wilkes, MD, ’78 CLAS
Dean, University of Virginia Medical School

As a leader in medical education, David S. Wilkes, MD, has served as researcher, teacher, administrator, mentor and executive. He joined the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 2015 as dean and James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science.

A specialist in pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, Dr. Wilkes obtained an undergraduate degree from Villanova University before receiving a medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in 1982. He completed an internship and residency at Temple University Hospital and a pulmonary and critical care fellowship at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Before arriving at University of Virginia, Dr. Wilkes was executive associate dean for research affairs at Indiana University School of Medicine and assistant vice president for research at Indiana University. He was also director of the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Physician Scientist Initiative. He currently serves on the Board of Visitors of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the Villanova University Board of Trustees.

Dr. Wilkes has co-authored more than 100 research papers and holds six US patents. He is founder and chief scientific officer of ImmuneWorks, Inc., a biotech company which develops novel treatments for immune-mediated lung disease. Dr. Wilkes was the recipient of Indiana University’s President Medal, the highest distinction given to a faculty member for recognition of accomplishments and service to the university. He is national director of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and has served on several advisory boards and committees of the National Institute of Health. A military veteran, Dr. Wilkes served three years as a major in the US Air Force Medical Corps where he earned a commendation medal for service.

Emily Felsenthal

Emily Felsenthal ’10 CLAS
Founder and Executive Director, Victor’s Vision

Emily Felsenthal is a sixth-grade math teacher in Denver as well as the founder and Executive Director of Victor’s Vision.

As a student at Villanova University, Felsenthal spent considerable time living and volunteering throughout Latin America, growing a passion for Latin American culture and working with underprivileged youth. After a week in Chulucanas, Peru in 2009, Felsenthal made a personal commitment to better the lives of the children she’d met there. In March of her senior year, she started Victor’s Vision, a nonprofit educational program that supports impoverished Peruvian youth in their pursuit of higher education.

Since graduating from Villanova in 2010, Felsenthal has committed herself to education both domestically and abroad. As Executive Director of Victor’s Vision, she has led the program’s growth—now serving more than 75 students in Chulucanas and sending more than a dozen students to university in the last two years. In the US, she worked for a nonprofit that supports students in the St. Louis public school system, was a Teach for America corps member in Chicago, and went on to teach and found restorative justice programs in low income schools in Chicago, Los Angeles and, now, Denver. Today, Felsenthal teaches sixth grade math at Skinner Middle School and coaches teachers through Teach For America—all while pursuing a master’s degree in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Park

Jennifer Park ’08 CLAS
Director of Certification and Community, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities

Jennifer Park is the Director of Certification and Community for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities, the nation’s most comprehensive philanthropic effort to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence. The initiative is a part of the $200 million Bloomberg American Cities Initiative, a suite of investments that empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward.

In that role, Park created and launched What Works Cities Certification, the first-ever national standard of excellence for well-managed, data-driven local government, helping cities benchmark their progress and leverage data to deliver better results for residents. She also oversees the What Works Cities Community, a professional network that provides hundreds of city executives, leaders, and staff with access to peers in other cities, leading experts and resources, and virtual and in-person educational opportunities.

Prior to joining What Works Cities, she was at Echoing Green, a global nonprofit providing early-seed funding, fellowship, and strategic support to social entrepreneurs. There, she supported Work on Purpose, a framework to leverage life and work lessons from social entrepreneurs to inspire others in the private or social sector to realize their unique way to make a social impact. Earlier in her career, she worked in political advocacy at Everytown, the Presidential Inauguration Committee, and President Barack Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign. Park graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Villanova University and attended the University of Southern California.

Since graduating from Villanova, she continues to be an active member of the Villanova Community. She recently served as co-chair for the Class of 2008 ten-year reunion and served on the five-year Reunion Committee. She has served as a committee member on both the Villanova University Club of New York City and Los Angeles. She also volunteered as an alumni interviewer for the Villanova Scholarship. Her other volunteer and board service are with the Korean American Community Foundation, the Urban Institute and the Urban Libraries Council.

Hugh Davis, PhD

Hugh Davis ’85 PhD, ’83 MS, P ’13
Chief Business Officer, Frontage Laboratories

Hugh M. Davis, PhD, is the Chief Business Officer, in charge of Business Development, Sales, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships for Frontage Laboratories, Inc. located in Exton, Pennsylvania and Shanghai, China.

Dr. Davis has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. His most recent position was with Johnson & Johnson where he served as Vice President and Head of Biologics Development Sciences in the Janssen BioTherapeutics (JBIO) division of Janssen R&D, LLC since 2001. JBIO is responsible for creating and characterizing all biologic assets for J&J, across all therapeutic areas. In this role, Dr. Davis and his team were instrumental in the development and approval of many biologic therapies including Remicade®, Stelara®, Simponi®, Sylvant®, Darzalex® and Tremfya®. Prior to J&J, Dr. Davis led the Pharmacodynamics & Exploratory Research Laboratory in the Clinical Pharmacology Unit at Glaxo SmithKline from 1996 to 2001.

Dr. Davis has published more than 75 manuscripts in refereed journals, book chapters and invited review articles in areas of therapeutic drug discovery, clinical pharmacology and development in immunology, oncology, metabolic disease, bone metabolism and cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Davis has presented as an invited speaker at many national and international meetings and is currently on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Empire Discovery Institute in New York state.

Following receipt of his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Gannon University in 1980, Dr. Davis went on to get his master’s and Doctorate degrees in Biochemistry under Dr. John Edwards from Villanova University in 1983 and 1985. Dr. Davis then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Centocor, Inc., where he patented the characterization of the CA 125 cancer antigen, a marker used in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Dr. Davis has taught Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics at Delaware County Community College, Immaculata University, Thomas Jefferson University and, for more than 30 years, at Villanova University, primarily teaching Allied Health majors in General, Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry. Dr. Davis is a member of the Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council.

About Villanova University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenging and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova's colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.