2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Dr. Deborah Podolin Whiting
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Dr. Deborah Podolin Whiting graduated from HMHS in 1983. She was an excellent student and outstanding athlete and competitor in both track and field and tennis. A doubles player on Jeff Holman’s 1980 Tournament of Champions team she was recognized for her athletic accomplishments by induction into the HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Dr. Whiting pursued her undergraduate degree at Davidson College graduating in 1987. She secured her Masters in Exercise Physiology (1990) and a Ph.D. in Biology (1995)) from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her dissertation work was honored by the University who awarded Dr. Whiting the Graduate Research and Creative Works award. This was one of more than a dozen awards she received in recognition of her stellar academic work including several grants, fellowships and the NIH National Research Service Award.
After earning her Ph. D., she accepted appointments at university positions that allowed her to continue her academic work in medical physiology. Her post-doctoral fellowship was served at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She later served as an Assistant Professor at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. More recently, she held positions as Associate Professor at the Drexel College of Medicine and her current position as Associate Professor at Rowan University Osteopathic School of Medicine. She has published over twenty papers in refereed journals such as the Journal of Applied Physiology, Endocrinology, Metabolism and the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
While Dr. Whiting is deservedly recognized for her academic pursuits, she is perhaps best renowned for her achievements as a teacher. Her excellence has been recognized since her days as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Colorado. Every university at which she has labored has recognized her with awards for pedagogy describing her as: Mentor of the Year, Master Educator, or deserving of recognition for “Excellence in Teaching”. Among these ten individual honors, the most prestigious was announced when Dr. Whiting was named the Northrup Educator of the Year. This national award was initiated by her students at Rowan. Consider what they said about Dr. Whiting:
“I know her through advocacy for students. She is always a vocal supporter and advocate for what students should have to be successful.”
“In medical school, we are not required to attend every lecture. Dr. Whiting’s classes are the best attended in this school. She makes every topic relatable and fun.”
“You can always count on her to stay after class, to answer questions. She is wonderful and giving to her students.”
Her classroom methodology is engaging and as she once put it, “There is not much I won’t try even if it’s beneath my dignity, if I think it will get my point across or excite the students.” Her ability to deliver her curriculum in a salient way is equaled by a passion for ensuring that her students succeed. Her willingness to mentor students and support those who are wrestling with the challenge of medical school knows few limitations. As her husband, Dr. Phil Whiting stated, “She is accessible 24-7, often willing to meet students for tutoring on weekends…she is a true advocate for her students.”
Her colleague, Dr. Carl Hock, Senior Research Associate and Professor at Rowan University Medical School, described Dr. Whiting as a “very talented individual with a genuine passion for medical education…her students are really appreciative of her thoughtful approach to organizing instruction.”
Dr. Whiting has played a critical leadership role in rewriting the curriculum at the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine. She led the school through a challenging revision of the content and delivery of instruction. Recognizing how gifted a teacher Dr. Whiting is, she was asked to become a mentor to faculty, observing their classes and offering feedback to help improve instruction. As you might imagine this could be very challenging work. Dr. Hock noted that she engaged in this work in such a positive way that “…even the crustiest of faculty received her suggestions well… Deb raises the level of performance of those around her whether faculty or students.”
Being involved in service and giving back to others has been a constant in Dr. Whiting’s life. She has not limited sharing her gifts with only the Rowan community. Some years ago, she cycled 3500 miles cross country to raise money and awareness for World Hunger. Closer to home, she served for six years on the Board of Trustees for the Haddonfield Friends School and as their volunteer Director of Development. Recently, she returned to the Friends School Board. Deborah has also served on the Board of the Neighborhood Center in Camden, as a volunteer for the Haddonfield-Japan exchange that takes place at the high school and with the Friends Meeting Refugee Assistance Fund which provides micro grants to refugee families.
Finally, Dr. Whiting remains an exceptional competitive athlete. She continued her successful tennis career in college where she played on an NCAA Division III championship team. She has remained active in competitive tennis throughout her adult life. At age 45, she was a ranked 11th nationally as a tennis player and has since become a two-time gold medalist in the National Senior Games. In many ways this connects very directly with her career, her interests in biology and aging and the benefits that accrue from staying active.
Dr. Whiting does all of this while raising a family. Deborah is married to Dr. Phil Whiting. They have three children, Becca, an HMHS alumna is a freshman at the University of Colorado; Sarah, a sophomore at HMHS and William, grade 8 attends Haddonfield Friends.
In recognition of her extraordinary work as a teacher, scholar and role model, the Haddonfield Alumni Society is pleased to present Dr. Deborah Podolin Whiting our Lifetime Achievement Award Medal.