Award Recipients

2018 Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Victoria F. Roche, Ph.D. (Class of 1981)


Victoria F. Roche is Professor of Pharmacy Sciences and Assistant to the Dean at the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. Dr. Roche received the Bachelor of Science degree in both Chemistry and Spanish from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1973, and both the Masters and the Ph.D. degrees in Biomedicinal Chemistry from the University of Nebraska College of Pharmacy, the latter in 1981.  She joined the Creighton University pharmacy faculty in 1982 and has held numerous administrative positions, including Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Associate Dean for Education and Faculty Development, Associate Dean for Administration, and Senior Associate Dean.  Throughout her academic career she has been responsible for chemistry instruction in Creighton’s pharmacy program, and has offered courses in medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences principles, rational drug design, and independent research. In 2003 she also developed an elective course in Native American Cultures and Health that has engaged pharmacy students in reservation-based health and social service in a Navajo community for over a decade. 

Dr. Roche is the Past President of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and has served the Association as a member of the Janus Commission, Argus Commission, the Caring for the Underserved Task Force, and Chair of both the Section of Teachers of Chemistry and the Women Faculty Special Interest Group.  She was the recipient of the 2007 AACP Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award.  With Creighton and/or external colleagues, she was a recipient of AACP Innovations in Teaching Awards in 1997, 1999 and 2007, was recognized with an Honorable Mention for her 2002 and 2005 Innovations portfolios, and received the 2000 AACP Lyman Award for the best paper published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education the previous year.  In 2014 she was recognized by the AACP Chemistry Section with the Dr. James E. Wynn Memorial Award.  She was the 2012 AACP appointee to the Board of Directors of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and completed a six-year term in 2018.  She was also ACPE’s appointee to the 2013 CAPE Advisory Panel, and served on the ACPE Board Standards Revision Subcommittee that produced Standards 2016 (currently in effect). 

Dr. Roche is also a Past National President and Region V Councilor of the Rho Chi National Pharmacy Honor Society, and has long advised Creighton’s Alpha Alpha Chapter of the Society. She received the national Rho Chi Lecture Award in 2012, and currently serves as the National Historian. 

Dr. Roche has been the recipient of numerous pharmacy teaching and student service awards at Creighton.  In 2010 she received the University’s prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for Teaching Achievement, and she is a past recipient of the University's Distinguished Faculty Administrator Award and the Disability Support Services Director’s Award.  Her educational research centers on the effective instruction of medicinal chemistry to professional students, the use of written and computerized case studies in the instruction of practice-oriented medicinal chemistry, and the impact of focused education and mentored immersion experiences on Indian Health Service career selection.  She is the lead editor on Foye’s Principles of Medicinal Chemistry, 8th Edition, which will be published in 2019.  She has authored or co-authored the Cancer and Chemotherapy and Central Analgesics chapters in two previous editions of the Foye text, and served as the Case Study writer and editor several editions.  She is an author of Essentials of Foye’s Principles of Medicinal Chemistry, a case author on the Review of Organic Functional Groups textbook (Lemke), a  co-author of The Medicinal Chemistry Case Study Workbook, and a co-author of the Computerized Therapeutic Case Studies in Medicinal Chemistry CD.


Honorary Alumnus Award (This award is presented to a non-alum)

James B. Turpen, Ph.D.


A native of Sheridan, Wyo., Dr. Turpen came to UNMC in 1983 as an assistant professor of anatomy.  What ensued was a legendary 34 year career in higher education research, administration, and teaching.  He retired from UNMC at the end of 2017 after a storied career.

Dr. Turpen earned a bachelor’s of science and master’s of science in Zoology from the University of Denver and went on to earn his PhD in biology from Tulane University in New Orleans.  He completed post-degree training in Immunology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. 

Supporting students is what drove Dr. Turpen towards higher education as a career.  For the last half of his career at UNMC, Dr. Turpen has been the principal investigator on the second largest research grant in UNMC history. His grant -- from the Institutional Development Award Program (IDeA) Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) – is unique for UNMC.  The goal for the grant is to "grow" more students who want to make research their career.

Since the grant began in 2001, a total of 381 INBRE Scholars have gone through the program. Of the 381 students, 104 went on to graduate school, 99 went on to professional school, and 26 joined the scientific workforce.   Under Dr. Turpen’s leadership, the grant was renewed several times and netted more than $64 million in funding. The current renewal is for $17.5 million over five years and runs through 2020. Students recruited into the program come from Nebraska’s undergraduate colleges and universities.

An embryologist, Dr. Turpen served as professor in the UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy and as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, as well as executive associate dean for graduate studies.  He also served as UNMC’s Research Integrity Officer from 2011 until his retirement.  As a teacher, he supervised numerous MS and PhD candidates to help them pursue their educational goals.  His tenure also included recognition with UNMC’s Distinguished Scientist Award and a Distinguished Teaching Award.  His other research interests are related to genomics.

Dr. Turpen remains active in retirement. He continues to be a clown for the Shriners -- something he's enjoyed for the past 21 years -- and is in his second year as chair of the Shrine Circus in the Omaha area.  Other community service includes involvement with the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Q Foundation for Kids.

Dr. Turpen left a legacy at UNMC as a legendary figure in building the research enterprise.  He is married to Paula Turpen, PhD who currently serves as UNMC’s director of research resources.


Past Recipients

2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award
M. Patricia Leuschen, Ph.D. (Class of 1976)

2017 Honorary Alumnus Award
Thomas McDonald, Ph.D. (This award is presented to a non-alum)

2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award
James McClurg, Ph.D. (Class of 1973)

2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award
Ernest Prentice, Ph.D. (Class of 1976)