WVSOM faculty member recognized as Professor of the Year finalist

A faculty member at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) was a finalist in a program designed to reward innovation and creativity at West Virginia’s higher education institutions.

Professor Peter Ward, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of WVSOM)

Peter Ward, Ph.D., a professor of anatomy in WVSOM’s biomedical sciences department, was one of five finalists for the Faculty Merit Foundation’s 2019 Professor of the Year award. Ward said he was grateful for the statewide acknowledgement of his devotion to students.

“Being recognized as a finalist for such a prestigious award is a great honor,” he said. “I hope that I, or another WVSOM faculty member, can again bring the Professor of the Year Award to Lewisburg to showcase the quality of our educators.”

Ward has been a WVSOM faculty member since 2005. In addition to instructing first-year students in anatomy labs and lectures, he leads an anatomy elective in which third- and fourth-year students conduct focused investigations on topics relevant to their future residencies. He has served on numerous WVSOM faculty committees, was faculty chair from 2018 to 2020 and operates the school’s plastination facility, which produces anatomical specimens for educational use. Ward also has worked with Bone Clones, a company that casts simulated human and animal bones from polyurethane resin, to create commercially distributed models illustrating bone injuries.

Ward spent three years as the association secretary for the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. He is nearing the completion of a textbook for which he is the sole author, Clinical Anatomy Explained – Netter’s Musculoskeletal System, an Integrated Anatomical Text, for use at medical schools that, like WVSOM, use an integrated curriculum.

This was Ward’s second time as a finalist for Professor of the Year. He was previously selected as a finalist in 2016. He said he credits his success as a professor to using interesting techniques to engage with students.

“My focus has always been on finding new ways to teach the anatomical sciences effectively,” Ward said. “That could mean making videos to explain difficult concepts, or being able to make a pop culture reference that allows students to suddenly have a lightbulb moment to understand how things work. You’re always looking for novel ways to explain complicated things.”

Ward has received numerous awards in his time with the osteopathic medical school, including five Atlas Club Golden Key Awards, three OPP Integration Faculty Teaching Awards and two President’s Awards of Excellence for Faculty Achievement. Earlier this year he received the WVSOM President’s Outstanding Employee Award, which recognizes employees for exceptional and dedicated service to the school.

The Faculty Merit Foundation’s Professor of the Year typically is named at a spring banquet, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused the event’s cancellation and delayed the announcement. The program is intended to bring outstanding achievements among the faculties of West Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities to the attention of the public.