June 15, 2023
On June 2, the Gillings School community gathered in the Armfield Atrium to celebrate Morris Weinberger, PhD, the Vergil N. Slee Distinguished Professor of Healthcare Quality and Management. Weinberger retired this month from his role as professor and chair in the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM) at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health after nearly twenty years of service to the University and more than thirty years of service to the state of North Carolina.
It was for those dedicated years of service that Weinberger was presented, at his retirement celebration, with the governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine award – one of the highest honors reserved for those who have made significant contributions to N.C. and their communities through exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.
“I’m humbled to receive this honor,” Weinberger said. “Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with amazing faculty, students and staff who have enriched my career and my life. They are the reasons for any successes that we have achieved together.”
Weinberger has served the state since 1988, striving to improve quality of care for older populations with chronic disease through research and service at many of the state’s largest health care institutions, including UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His work to develop and evaluate care strategies and processes for health care systems has been published widely in top academic journals and has earned prestigious awards from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2002) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (2003).
His research has focused on clinician- and non-clinician-delivered interventions in primary care, pharmacist care, and transitions in clinical care. He has also made significant contributions to methodological improvements that address the challenges of conducting randomized controlled trials in real-world clinical and practice settings.
Since 2001, Weinberger has also been a committed teacher, leader and mentor at the Gillings School, serving as faculty in HPM and later as department chair, where he has supported hundreds of researchers and students on their paths to becoming future public health professionals in N.C. and across the country. Many of his former students are now faculty, health care leaders and administrators themselves, carrying his positivity, dedication and commitment to innovation into their own practice.
“His students and mentees are effusive with their praise of the personal connection and genuine investment in their well-being that Dr. Weinberger brings,” one nominator wrote. “Years ago, when I first met him, I mentioned a student of ours from a few years earlier. He shared that she just had a baby, and opened his flip phone and texted her. This was a signal to me that his investment in students extended beyond the classroom and was lifelong.”
“Morris seems to always be in his office with a wide-open door, ready and willing to help any student or staff or faculty member who needs it – without complaint, without requiring a scheduled meeting and definitely with a smile on his face,” another nominator wrote. “Morris never fails to encourage people—indeed, boundless optimism seems to run through his blood.”
His teaching and mentorship have earned recognition at UNC, including the Gillings School’s John E. Larsh Jr Award for Mentorship (2013) and Award for Teaching Excellence and Innovation (2015) and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Class of 1996 Award for Advising Excellence (2015). It also earned him the John M. Eisenberg Excellence in Mentorship Award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2005).
“If there is one word that captures Morris it is tireless,” said one nominator. “He has always worked so hard to help others. His contributions to public health and the state of N.C. are exceptional, and he has my strongest endorsement for this award.”
Those named to The Order of the Long Leaf Pine become North Carolina “Ambassadors” with their names and award dates recorded on a roster maintained by The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society. Among the privileges of membership to The Order is the ability to propose “the following North Carolina Toast in select company anywhere in the free world:
“Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The Summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to ‘down home,’ the old North State!”
Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at email@example.com.