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School of Medicine Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine profiles

October 30, 2009

Raphael J. Witorsch, Ph.D.

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Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards

Did you hear the one about cell signaling?

Known nearly as well for his tremendous sense of humor as for his excellence in teaching and expertise in physiology, Dr. Raphael Witorsch is a master at communicating difficult information in a memorable way.

For more than 25 years, Dr. Witorsch’s unique teaching style has won the hearts and minds of his students. “He is able to make even the reproductive system fun.” Dr. Witorsch makes 8 a.m. classes a joy and a reason to come in. “He is an extremely personable, animated and excited instructor who wakes students up from early morning drowsiness and excites us about his topic.” “He conveyed his material in a manner that was both completely understandable and immensely enjoyable.” “We always left his lectures with huge smiles and a more complete understanding of how the body worked.”

“Interestingly, Ray’s abilities as a stand-up comic and storyteller (often side-splitting), are in no way contradictory to his professionalism,” wrote Linda Costanzo, Ph.D.., Assistant Dean for Pre-clinical Medical Education, in nominating Dr. Witorsch for the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. “Somehow, a 50-minute lesson with Ray Witorsch flies by – he is able to convey the beauty of the body systems in a way that enhances the core story, makes it more memorable, and places it in meaningful context.”

In addition to being a highly respected and popular professor of physiology in the School of Medicine, he has also directed the physiology courses in the Schools of Dentistry and Pharmacy. “He can calibrate his presentation to the professional needs of particular groups of students,” added Margaret C. Biber, D. Phil, Professor of Physiology. “Thus, his success has not been limited to the dental, medical and graduate students but has extended to other
students such as nurses, pharmacy students, physical therapists and industrial hygiene students.”

“His classroom is a dynamic, productive arena where students are engaged in active learning and reaching their fullest potential in understanding and applying physiology to their given discipline,” related B. Ellen Byrne, DDS, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, School of Dentistry. “Dr. Witorsch is an excellent teacher who has that special blend of patience, tact, personal concern, talent, communication skills and professional pride
necessary to excel.”

“Dr. Witorsch’s serious commitment to excellence in teaching matches his impressive portfolio of research and service contributions,” wrote Thomas P. Reinders, Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Services, School of Pharmacy. Professor S. Murthy Karnam, Ph.D. agreed, adding that “Dr. Witorsch has selfl essly contributed to teaching generations of graduate and medical students. He has no equal in teaching enthusiasm.”

“His talent in education is innate, as he received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the medical students in 1971, the very first year he taught at MCV,” says Diomedes E. Logothetis, Ph.D., Chairman, Department of Physiology and Biophysics. “I can’t think of a more deserving person than Ray to honor with the highest teaching recognition in the School of Medicine.”