Neag Medal Recognizes Extraordinary Impact on Human Health

John Krenicki ’84 (ENG), ’07H and Donna (Samson) Krenicki ’84 (SFA) (left) celebrated at the Neag Medal of Honor Ceremony with past recipients (from left) Cheryl A. Chase ’78 (LAW) and Stuart D. Bear, Marja M. Hurley ’72 (CLAS), ’76 MD, and Laura Yellin; and Carole Neag.(Photo credit Defining Studios).
Donna (Samson) Krenicki ’84 (SFA) and John Krenicki ’84 (ENG), ’07H received the 2019 Carole and Ray Neag Medal of Honor in recognition of their outstanding contributions to biomedical engineering, genomics, and personalized health care through their generous philanthropy (Photo credit Defining Studios).

The Carole and Ray Neag Medal of Honor bears the names of UConn’s most generous supporters—Carole and her late husband Ray Neag ’56 (CLAS), ’01H—and is presented for extraordinary contributions to the field of health sciences.

On May 18, UConn awarded the 2019 Neag Medal to two alumni couples whose philanthropy has profoundly impacted human health: Donna (Samson) Krenicki ’84 (SFA) and John Krenicki ’84 (ENG), ’07H; and Robin D. Froman ’74 (EDU), ’75 MA, ’81 Ph.D., ’84 (NUR), ’87 MS and Steven V. Owen.

“UConn is proud to recognize the magnificent leadership and generosity of Donna and John Krenicki and Robin Froman and Steven Owen,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “Their support has helped fuel advances in human health, and their vision and their loyal friendship to UConn have inspired us.”

The Krenickis have been giving back to UConn for nearly 30 years. In addition to major gifts to support the arts, chemistry, and sustainable energy, the Krenickis have helped lay the groundwork for important advances in health care by endowing a professorship in biomedical engineering and a professorship in genomics and personalized health care.

Robin D. Froman ’74 (EDU), ’75 MA, ’81 Ph.D., ’84 (NUR), ’87 MS and Steven V. Owen received the 2019 Carole and Ray Neag Medal of Honor in recognition of their profound impact on human health through their remarkable careers and philanthropic support for the School of Nursing (Photo submitted by Froman and Owen).

The couple met in McMahon Hall at UConn in 1982. She was a graphic design major from Connecticut. He was a mechanical engineer major from New Jersey. In addition to their philanthropy, the couple has given generously of their time and talent, both having served on the UConn Foundation’s Board of Directors. John recently served on the search committee for the incoming president and CEO of the UConn Foundation, Scott Roberts. Donna serves on the advisory board at the School of Fine Arts.

Thanks to their philanthropy, UConn recruited Ki Chon to hold the Krenicki Professor of Biomedical Engineering in 2014. Chon has more than 20 patents and more than $3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation for his research, which includes developing low-cost, wireless, wearable monitoring devices that help detect arrhythmia of the heart. This is the kind of discovery the Krenickis have committed to helping UConn advance for generations to come.

Froman and Owen have left an equally indelible mark at UConn. The couple, who were unable to attend the ceremony, received their medals prior.

“In the history of the School of Nursing, Robin and Steven stand out for the remarkable depth of their philanthropic generosity and so much more,” said Deborah Chyun, dean of the School of Nursing. “Their friendship, spirit, and counsel have helped shape our programs and improve the field of nursing.”

After founding the Center for Nursing Scholarship at the School of Nursing in the 1980s, Froman returned as interim director 10 years ago to reinvigorate its work. She envisioned a nexus for scholars at all stages in their careers to collaborate and develop new knowledge that would support research, education, and clinical practice. Currently, she leads the Nursing Research Fellows Program at UConn Health.

Photo of Robin Froman (bottom right), recipient of the Neag Medal of Honor, taken Friday, March 29, 2019, at UConn Health in Farmington. (G.J. McCarthy / UConn Foundation)

Both Froman and Owen have earned acclaim in their fields. Owen, professor emeritus of educational psychology at the Neag School of Education, has won prestigious awards for excellence in both writing and teaching at the doctoral level. His prolific career in research and teaching includes nearly 30 years at UConn and almost a decade at two institutions in the University of Texas system, where his expertise was deployed in nursing, preventative medicine, community health, pediatrics, and epidemiology and biostatistics.

When Froman and Owen committed $2.3 million in 2014 for the first-ever endowed chair in the School of Nursing, it was with a keen understanding of this institution and its extraordinary promise. Their support will elevate the School and strengthen the legacy they built throughout their careers.