News Release

May 9, 2005

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

N.Y. State Health Commissioner to Speak at UConn Medical and Dental Schools Commencement Exercises May 15

FARMINGTON, CONN. – New York State Health Commissioner Antonia Coello Novello, M.D., will speak at the 34th commencement exercises of the University of Connecticut schools of medicine and dental medicine Sunday, May 15, at 1 p.m. under the tent at the Academic Entrance, 263 Farmington Avenue.

Dr. Novello has served as New York health commissioner since 1999 and heads one of the nation’s leading public health agencies. With a budget of more that $34 billion, her agency is responsible for protecting and improving the health of nearly 19 million people. Prior to her appointment as commissioner, Dr. Novello served as Surgeon General of the United States and was the first woman and Hispanic to hold the position. She also served as a Special Representative for Health and Nutrition with the United Nations Children’s Fund and spent many years working at the National Institutes of Health.

Among her many honors, Dr. Novello has been awarded the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medallion and Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal of the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Medical Association’s Nathan B. Davis Award, the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars Award, and the Elizabeth Blackwell Award. She is an inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and holds more than 45 honorary degrees.

Dr. Novello was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. She earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees at the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s and doctor of public health degrees from Johns Hopkins University. She is a board-certified pediatrician and nephrologist.

At commencement exercises, degrees will be conferred to 73 medical student and 36 dental student graduates. Graduate degrees in public health, dental and biomedical sciences, and doctorate degrees biomedical sciences will also be conferred.

Chosen by their classmates the following two students have been selected as commencement speakers.

  • Karen Hook will be representing the UConn School of Medicine Class of 2005. She will be going to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for her residency in internal medicine and is interested in academic medicine. Hook is originally from Plainville and currently resides in New Britain.
  • Aaron Liddell will be speaking for the UConn School of Dental Medicine’s graduating class. He is pursuing a medical degree and certificate in oral and maxillofacial surgery and will continue his studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Originally from Sandy, Utah, he currently lives in Farmington.

The UConn Health Center’s Board of Directors Faculty Recognition Award will be presented at the graduation ceremonies.

  • This year’s recipient is Peter Albertsen, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Urology in the Department of Surgery and director of the Urology Residency Program. Dr. Albertsen has been a member of the UConn School of Medicine faculty since 1987. The award honors a faculty member for “outstanding academic and clinical accomplishments and sustained excellence of the highest order in professional endeavors.” He is a resident of West Simsbury.

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

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