The Friends of the Medical School honors former JABSOM dean

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Dr. Jerris Hedges, former dean of the University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine, was named recipient of the Honorable Judge James S. Burns Award by the Friends of the Medical School (FOMS). The esteemed award recognizes JABSOM faculty, alumni or community members who have made notable contributions to the medical school.

At the 2023 JABSOM White Coat Ceremony held at Kaimukī High School on July 28th, FOMS President Norma Murayama and Emme Tomimbang Burns, Hawaiʻi veteran broadcast journalist and wife of the Honorable Judge Burns, presented the award to Hedges.

“The James S. Burns award was created to honor the legacy of Judge Burns and the recipient is one who dedicates oneself to the betterment of JABSOM. The Friends of the Medical School picked the perfect individual– retired Dean Jerris Hedges. During his 15-year tenure as the Dean of JABSOM, he devoted himself to advancing the medical school in so many areas and has changed the face of medicine for the state of Hawaiʻi,” said Murayama.

Hedges retired in February 2023. During his leadership, the medical school experienced tremendous growth– increasing its class sizes, providing robust scholarships and expanding its research beyond Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi while also strengthening its connections with communities across the state. Under Hedges’ tenure, JABSOM became known for its contributions to public health and efforts to address the physician shortage. The school achieved national recognition, ranking highly in primary care education and community impact (read more about Dr. Hedges’ accomplishments as JABSOM dean).

“In my former role as JABSOM dean, I have been honored to build upon the Burns legacy. Our school's success is our collective success,” said Hedges. “Our wonderful school has chosen excellent students for decades and sponsored programs to create opportunities for those students, especially those students whose families have contributed to Hawaiʻi for generations. Our excellent alumni, faculty, and current learners share the kuleana to advance the health of the cultures and peoples of Hawaiʻi.”

The Honorable Judge James S. Burns Award is a koa wood bowl, a traditional gift of honor. The significance was not lost on Dean Hedges as he had a strong, longstanding friendship with Jim Burns, son of John A. Burns, the medical school’s namesake.

“I was privileged to know him personally as a friend during his tenure as President of the JABSOM FOMS and later as a member of the University Health Partners of Hawaiʻi,” Hedges said. “I doubt that Jim and I enjoyed more quality time than Emme did with him, but I want to share that I valued all the conversations and lessons he provided. Jim, like his father, loved Hawaiʻi and worked tirelessly to make Hawaiʻi a healthy, safe, and prosperous state.”