Renowned educator honored for service to KYCOM

Steve R. Harris, Ph.D., was named this year’s John A. Strosnider, D.O., Memorial Lecturer at the annual Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) Founders Dinner on Sept. 13. The award recognizes Harris’ service to the medical school, along with the community, that spans two decades and countless student physicians.

Established in honor of John A. Strosnider, founding dean of the medical school, the award is presented annually. Previous recipients include G. Chad Perry III, Burlin Coleman, Bennie Ray Bailey, Paul E. Patton, William H. Owens, Terry Dotson, Hal Smith, Walter E. May, William Betz and Edward G. Stiles.

Harris began at then Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine (PCSOM) on June 1, 1998, just one year after the school’s founding in 1997.

Before his first visit to Pikeville and accepting the position at PCSOM, Harris admits that not only did he lack ties to the region but he had actually never set foot in Kentucky. He remembers feeling as though he was taking a leap of faith since he had a competing job offer at the time. Harris credits Strosnider as the number one reason he came to serve at the school.

“The first thing I remember about ‘Stro’ is his enthusiasm,” said Harris. He also remembered Strosnider’s love for the mountains and the beauty of the area.

Harris reflected on student fundraisers, milestone achievements, the growth of the medical school, accreditation visits and mistakes made. He encouraged “the tremendous staff at KYCOM” to never underestimate the value of what they can do for their students, even if it’s just listening.

“When I refer back on the history our school, we’ve seen a lot of change,” said Harris. “I’m proud we did it together, as a team. I’m proud I’ve taught every student that has graduated from our school.”

With a vision that still holds true today, KYCOM carries the legacy of Strosnider as its guiding principle and continues to train osteopathic physicians to serve in the mountains of Appalachia and other rural areas.

“Our mission is still just as important,” Harris reminded the room full of colleagues and friends. “What we do at that school matters.”