Upstate News

April 10, 2009
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

SUNY Upstate President David R. Smith, M.D., to receive 2009 Distinguished Citizen Award

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — David R. Smith, M.D., president of SUNY Upstate Medical University, will receive the 2009 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America’s Hiawatha Seaway Council at its annual Boypower Dinner, to be held May 6 at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center at Oncenter, 800 S. Salina Street. Steve Forbes, president and chief executive officer of Forbes and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, will be the guest speaker.

Smith is being recognized for his leadership, innovation and vision for enhancing the region’s healthcare.

Since becoming president of SUNY Upstate—the region’s largest employer—Smith has launched several major initiatives to meet the institution’s vision for responsive regional growth:

? Upon his arrival, he launched “Engaging Excellence,” an employee-driven effort to create the best workplace possible, and to lay the groundwork for the university’s strategic planning process. To date, the process has resulted in hundreds of enacted and proposed improvements.

? In Fall 2007, Smith proposed the $500 million “Upstate Initiative”—a bricks and mortar plan for campus expansion, which has already gained $320 million in approved capital funding. (Projects include major research space expansion, a new academic building and cancer center.)

? Smith has overseen the expansion of the university’s academic and degree programs and plans to grow the student body by 30 percent over the next five years, to meet the growing demand for doctors, nurses, and other professionals.

Since joining SUNY Upstate, Smith has been elected to the board of directors of the Metropolitan Development Association, the University Hill Corporation, CNY Biotechnology Research Center, Syracuse 20/20 and others. Smith serves as vice chair of the National Board of Trustees for the March of Dimes and was the 2008 Honorary Chair for the CNY March of Dimes “March for Babies.” He holds a number of professional memberships including American Public Health Association, Medical Society of the State of New York, and Onondaga County Medical Association. He has been a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1985.

Smith was appointed the sixth president of SUNY Upstate Medical University in June 2006. Prior to his appointment at SUNY Upstate, Smith served as the chancellor of the Texas Tech University System; interim chancellor and president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center; president of the Health Sciences Center and former dean of its School of Medicine. Smith also served as the Commissioner of the Texas Department of Health.

A native of Ohio, Smith received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He completed his pediatric residency and chief residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Smith is married to Donna Bacchi, MD, MPH, a board certified pediatrician and chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at SUNY Upstate. The Smiths have two grown children, Christopher and Jocelyn.

Previous winners of the Distinguished Citizen Award include Stickley Furniture owners Alfred and Aminy Audi, former Onondaga County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro, U.S. Rep. James Walsh, and former Syracuse Mayor Tom Young.

To attend the Boypower Dinner or for more information on the event, call 463-0201.


With an institutional mission to provide healthcare, education, research and service, SUNY Upstate is the only academic medical university in Central New York State and the largest employer in the region. As a health care provider, it directly serves 1.8 million residents in 17 counties, an area covering about 1/3 of New York State’s land mass.

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