The 2022 Evening of Excellence gala, which celebrates healthcare and community leaders while raising funds for research at the University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Medicine, was held March 24 at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum.
Honorees were Gregory L. Skuta, M.D., who served for 12 years as president and chief executive officer of the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI), and G. Rainey Williams Jr., chair of the University Hospitals Authority and Trust and chair of the OU Health Board of Directors. Skuta was presented the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Medical Service, and Williams received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Community Service.
Evening of Excellence, now in its 37th year, is organized by the OU College of Medicine Alumni Association. Since the event began, the alumni association has awarded $3.6 million in grants to 162 researchers in the college.
“We are pleased to honor these two individuals for their dedication to our institution and to the health and well-being of Oklahomans,” said Mary Zoe Baker, M.D., president of the OU College of Medicine Alumni Association. “Evening of Excellence is also important for furthering research on our campus. The grants we have been able to provide to researchers have allowed them to launch innovative studies and leverage the results of those studies to obtain larger federal grants.”
Skuta joined DMEI in 1992 and served as its third president and chief executive officer and as the Edward L. Gaylord Professor and Chair of the OU College of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology from 2009 to 2021. During his tenure, he oversaw completion of the $47-million expansion of DMEI, which included construction of the David W. Parke II, M.D. Pavilion and renovation of the Thomas E. Acers, M.D. Pavilion, which together doubled laboratory space and greatly increased clinical capacity.
During Skuta’s leadership, the organization brought in over $45 million in donations, which made possible not only the expansion but a number of other initiatives. These include the renovation of the third floor of the Acers Pavilion into The Chickasaw Nation Center of Excellence for Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration; the acquisition of several critical pieces of technology; the recruitment of seven vision scientists, 17 ophthalmologists, and four optometrists; and the recognition of faculty with numerous awards as well as the establishment of four endowed positions.
A native of Illinois, Skuta was born in Benton and grew up in Tuscola, where he was a 1974 graduate of Tuscola Community High School (TCHS) and was inducted into the TCHS Hall of Fame in 2014. He received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Illinois; completed his ophthalmology residency at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he was chief resident; and served as a glaucoma fellow at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida.
Skuta has contributed to more than 120 publications, book chapters, and educational products. He served as a principal investigator for the National Eye Institute-sponsored Advanced Glaucoma Intervention Study and the Collaborative Initial Glaucoma Treatment Study. In addition, he was a member of the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee for the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study. He has delivered lectures and presentations at more than 250 meetings throughout the world.
Skuta served as president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in 2014 and received the AAO Life Achievement Honor Award in 2013. He currently serves as the chair of the AAO’s Foundation Advisory Board and is a member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees. He is a board member and treasurer of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research/Alliance for Eye and Vision Research, and he serves on the Board of Directors for the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company.
In addition, Skuta is a past president of the American Glaucoma Society and American Eye Study Club, an emeritus director of the American Board of Ophthalmology, and a past member of the Board of Governors of the World Glaucoma Association. He is listed among the Best Doctors in America and Castle Connolly Top Doctors.
Skuta and Anne, his wife of almost 38 years, have three adult children – Jon (wife Amy), Cate (husband Justan Wright), and Matt – and one granddaughter (Adelyn Grace Wright).
Williams is president of Marco Capital Group, a privately owned investment partnership operating in Oklahoma, Texas, and the southwestern United States. Marco Capital Group has been an active private investor over the past 25 years, investing in a broad number of private equity, real estate, and other alternative investments. Williams has led Marco since it and its predecessors were established in 1989.