University of Nebraska Medical Center

Current Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Toni Ganzel

Toni M. Ganzel, MD, MBA

Class of 1978

Toni M. Ganzel, Dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Nebraska. She completed an internship in general surgery and a residency in Otolaryngology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and earned a master's degree in business administration in Medical Group Management from the University of Saint Thomas in Minneapolis. Dr. Ganzel joined the University of Louisville in 1983 as an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, later rising to Director of the division of Otolaryngology and full tenured professor.  

In 2001 she was named Associate Dean for Student Affairs and in 2003 named Senior Associate Dean for Students and Academic Affairs. In May of 2013, Ganzel was appointed Dean of the School of Medicine. Under her leadership, the School of Medicine has developed a new strategic plan, transformed the curriculum and instructional facilities, centralized its faculty practice group, strengthened the research infrastructure, enhanced community engagement, enriched diversity, and inclusion efforts, expanded faculty and staff development and initiated a comprehensive wellness program. In 2020, she received an additional appointment as Vice President for Academic Affairs. In this role, she oversees research at the Health Science Center and serves as a strong advocate for the academic mission within UL Health for adult clinical care and Norton Healthcare for pediatrics. 

Dr. Ganzel is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, is a Harvard Macy Scholar and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM). She has held a number of leadership positions in academic and clinical medicine, including President of the Kentucky Society of Otolaryngologists, President of the Kosair Children’s Hospital Medical Staff, Executive Council of the Association of Academic Departments of Otolaryngology, Chair of the Graduate Medical Education Committee of the American College of Surgeons, Chair of the Careers in Medicine Advisory Board for the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Chair Elect 2019-20 and Chair 2020-21, AAMC Council of Deans (COD) Administrative Board and COD Liaison to the AAMC Group on Institutional Planning.  She is a board member of Lou Med Board and Louisville Chapter of the American Heart Association. Honors and awards include Louisville Business First Healthcare Achiever of the Year, the Tower Women’s Leadership Award, Commitment to Compassion Award, the LGBT Ally of the Year Award and Today’s Woman Most Admired Woman in Education.  
She and her husband Brian, a cardiac surgeon, have two daughters: Natalie, age 30 and Paige, age 27. 

Dedication to Student Excellence Award

Dennis Strauss

Dennis Strauss, MD

Class of 1968

Dennis F. “Denny” Strauss, MD is a 1968 graduate of the UNMC College of Medicine. Upon graduation, Dr. Strauss went on to radiology residency in California, where he practiced before returning to Omaha for most of his career.  
If you were to ask Dr. Strauss what his contributions to student excellence are, he would humbly offer that he lectured in radiology to senior medical students. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg of all the support he has offered in service to UNMC’s College of Medicine students.  

Throughout the latter part of his career and into retirement, Dr. Strauss spent more than 15 years volunteering with UNMC’s Alumni Association. He served in several different leadership positions with the College of Medicine Alumni Association, now Alumni Council, overseeing a period of growth in activities offered for students to include sponsorships of new scholarship funding, student orientation events, Match Day, graduation, and more. These activities have impacted countless medical students and will continue to make an impact well into the future. 

When called upon for any volunteer opportunity, Dr. Strauss is the first to say yes. He has attended countless campus events and consistently contributed philanthropically to the College and its students. In 2009, Dr. Strauss served as Chair of the then School of Allied Health’s Campaign Committee, leading that committee to unprecedented success. He is extremely involved and cares deeply about the University, the College, and its students.  

Dr. Strauss brings an outstanding commitment and enthusiasm with him in whatever he does. Past students describe him as being passionate about teaching, someone who can make complex things easy to understand and who likes to throw in a few jokes to help students remember the topics he discusses. He has quietly and selflessly contributed his talents and efforts to the cause of significantly advancing the College of Medicine and UNMC.  
Dr. Strauss and his wife Chris have three adult children. In his free-time he enjoys photography, attending car-related events and racing, as well as Husker football.  

Early Career Achievement Award

Geoffrey Talmon

Geoffrey Talmon, MD, MEd

Class of 2003

Geoffrey Talmon, MD, MEd is Vice Chair for Medical Education in the UNMC Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology and Associate Dean for Medical Education in the UNMC College of Medicine. Dr. Talmon received his medical degree from the College of Medicine in 2003 and completed his residency training in Pathology at UNMC in 2007. He also did a fellowship in Surgical/Medical Pathology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and received a Master of Education degree from Johns Hopkins University. 

For his entire career, Dr. Talmon has been actively involved in medical education and training and mentored numerous medical students, residents, and fellows, serving as director of multiple courses at all levels and the pathology residency program from 2009-2015. 
He was inducted into the Golden Apple Hall of Fame, after earning his seventh consecutive Golden Apple Award for excellence in education from the second-year medical students. Entering the Hall of Fame means that he officially became "retired" from future award consideration — only the seventh faculty member so honored. He is also a recipient of the Hirschmann Prize for pre-clinical education, was named the 2021 UNMC Varner Educator Laureate, and served as the inaugural James Linder Distinguished Residency Director Chair. 
About teaching, Dr. Talmon says, “What I really like is the ability to not just teach what other people taught, but build new things, try out new things and interact with lots of different groups of students. One of the best parts of this journey — there’s always something fun and new to try.”  
Dr. Talmon helped found the UNMC’s Interprofessional Academy of Educators (IAE), with its mission to train and support innovative educators at the university. In addition to “teaching the teacher,” Dr. Talmon also has taught in the High School Alliance Program for more than a decade, inspiring Omaha-area high school students to consider a career in the health professions. 
In 2023, Dr. Talmon was recognized with the University of Nebraska Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award, part of the NU President’s Excellence Awards. It is the highest honor for a teacher in the NU system.  
Dr. Talmon and his wife, Mindy Lacey, MD ‘07, live in Waterloo and have two children. 
Follow Dr. Talmon on Twitter @PathTeacher 

Honorary Alumnus Award

Anthony Yonkers

Anthony J. Yonkers, MD

Dr. Anthony “Tony” Yonkers joined UNMC in 1968 as a part-time faculty member, the same year the Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery department was formed.  In 1970, he joined the faculty full-time, and went on to serve for 43 years, including 25 years as department chair.  

Around the time he joined UNMC, Dr. Yonkers also joined the Air Force Reserve, became a flight surgeon and retired in 1998 as a colonel.  

One of the biggest rewards of his career was training generations of UNMC residents. He approached training residents as a way to keep himself up to date on his craft and took great pride in watching residents develop and go on to practice all over the country.  

Dr. Yonkers’ long list of accomplishments and awards reflect his dedication and passion. In recognizing his retirement in 2013, many of Dr. Yonkers’ former residents weighed in on his illustrious career. Of the many ways he was described, here are just a few highlights: 

  • He treats everyone with equal respect; whether you are a coworker or a patient, he gives 100% genuine concern and attention. 
  • He has made a career out of making otolaryngology fun. His spirit of enthusiasm and enjoyment of what he does is infectious. 
  • He is a genuine person who would give anyone the last shirt off his back without thinking twice about it. He is an inspiration to all of us that youth and energy is not in age but attitude and willingness to just do it. 
  • His personal generosity never wavered. He opened his home and his personal life up to his residents on a regular basis. And that created a deep loyalty to him, like family, that is felt well past when residency ends. 

In addition to his professional career, Dr. Yonkers was a co-founder and the first president of Omaha’s Sunrise Lions Club and served as a leader of the organization for over four decades. His commitment to the Lions Club and service to the community is another example of his compassion and generosity that he exhibited in medicine and medical education.   

Upon his retirement, the department created the Anthony J. Yonkers Professorship in Otolaryngology, the first named Professorship for the Otolaryngology Department.  The professorship honors Dr. Yonkers' career and his focus on the many residents he trained and mentored. Funding from the Yonkers Professorship supports the Residency Program within the Department and will do so in perpetuity. In addition, the department’s conference room was re-named “The Anthony J. Yonkers Conference Room” a move that requires approval from the president of the NU system. The naming serves as a constant reminder of the compassion, humor, and humility that Dr. Yonkers so generously shared for over four decades at UNMC.