Newswise — Bethesda, MD – Richard W. Thomas, MD, DDS, president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, will be inducted into the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Alumni (, joining notable WVU graduates like best-selling author Stephen Coonts, comedic actor Don Knotts, NBA star Jerry West, and NASA astrophysicist Dr. Katherine Weaver. 

Thomas, a board certified otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon, dentist, and retired Army major general, was selected for the honors based on his dedication and service as a “visionary leader” and his “immeasurable and lasting impact” to the nation during his more than 26 years of active military service and his continued Federal service as USU president. 

According to the WVU website, “The Academy of Distinguished Alumni honors West Virginia University graduates who have attained national or international distinction in their profession or discipline. The award has been established by the West Virginia University Alumni Association in cooperation with the University’s 14 schools and colleges.” The university has a permanent display of its honorees in its Erickson Alumni Center on the Morgantown, West Virginia, campus. 

Thomas joins more than 100 WVU alumni in receipt of the award, which was established more than 30 years ago.  He earned three degrees from WVU, including a bachelor’s degree in biological science, a doctorate in dental surgery from the WVU School of Dentistry, and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the WVU School of Medicine.  In addition, he earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. 

Prior to his selection as president of USU, Thomas commanded at multiple levels in the Army, and served in key positions, culminating as director of Healthcare Operations and Chief Medical Officer for the Defense Health Agency.  He previously served as Commanding General of the Western Regional Medical Command in Tacoma, Wash., Surgeon General of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Assistant Army Surgeon General, and Chief of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.  He deployed multiple times in support of combat operations in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.  As president of USU, Thomas is responsible for the academic, research and service mission of the university. His responsibilities also include oversight of the University’s graduate health professions education and healthcare research, to include emerging technologies and treatments, in support of the Military Health System and Department of Defense.


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About the Uniformed Services University:

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is the nation's only Federal health sciences university.  USU educates, trains and prepares uniformed services health professionals, officers and leaders to directly support the Military Health System, the National Security and National Defense Strategies of the United States and the readiness of our armed forces. For more information, visit: