As reported by The Hartford Courant, January 8, 2010.

UConn Dean Gets Presidential Award

By MaryEllen Fillo

Connecticut wasn't the only place where Democratic politics was the center of attention Wednesday. While longtime Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd was announcing he would not seek re-election, and fellow Democrat Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was waiting to move in on the action, Dr. Cato Laurencin, dean at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and UConn's vice president for health affairs, was hobnobbing in Washington with the ultimate Democrat, President Barack Obama.

Laurencin was one of 22 people presented the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in ceremonies there.

"It was fantastic," Laurencin said of the presentation, which included a reception with the president in the White House Blue Room.

"My first impression of the president was that he was impressive looking and extremely personable. He looks just like he does in his pictures, and is extremely engaging and sincere."

The awards, given to those selected for their mentoring services to students at any grade level, included a $10,000 prize.

Laurencin had expected his BFF, actor and comic Bill Cosby, would be with him, but last-minute scheduling changed that.

"I will be telling him about it, though," said Laurencin.

As for washing the hand that shook that of the president of the United States?

"There are some here who have said they will not be washing their hands after shaking hands with the president," said Laurencin, an orthopedic surgeon who also holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering. "But I am a physician as well as a scientist who believes in hand-washing."