Former ECU dean named to Order of Long Leaf Pine
A former dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has been named by the governor to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his outstanding contribution to health care in North Carolina.
Dr. Paul Cunningham, who stepped down from his post as dean of the medical school in September, was presented the award during Vidant Health’s medical staff meeting Nov. 15 by Greenville urologist and N.C. Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy.
“I have known Dr. Cunningham a long time – not only as a talented and gifted surgeon, but as a compassionate human being,” Murphy said. “He always puts patients’ needs above everything else. He leads by example, with camaraderie and with vision.”
Considered among the highest honors the governor can confer, the award recognizes citizens for their exemplary service to the state. Other recipients include Andy Griffith, Bill Friday, the Rev. Billy Graham and Michael Jordan.
Previously an ECU trauma surgeon and educator, Cunningham was named Brody’s dean in 2008. He led the school in its devotion to producing primary care physicians for the state, increasing opportunities for underrepresented minorities in medical education and improving the health status of the citizens of eastern North Carolina.
Cunningham is taking time away to prepare for teaching and research responsibilities before returning to work as a faculty member in the medical school’s Department of Surgery, with interests in trauma and bariatric surgery.
He currently leads the state’s physicians as president of the North Carolina Medical Society.