Later in the day, Koch and alumni honored the new Wall of Fame recipients at a celebratory cocktail reception and dinner for their outstanding careers and contributions to medicine, government, education and their communities: Joe Lezama, M.D. ’97; Maude Lofton, M.D. ’79; Reuben Brigety, M.D. ’70, and James “Jim” Free, M.D. ’60.
Lezama serves as associate chief of staff for medicine and specialty care at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and is a professor of medicine and the vice chair of education in the department of internal medicine at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He is known for his extraordinary contributions to government service, including establishing one of the first VA patient safety and quality improvement residencies with national recognition. He was awarded the Laureate Award for his career contributions to the American College of Physicians last fall.
“I wanted to be a Gator since the eighth grade,” said Lezama, a 2020 Wall of Fame inductee who was recognized during the 2022 reception. “For me to not only go to medical school here but then have a career that the University of Florida feels is deserving of a Wall of Fame induction is the highlight of my career. It means so much to me, and it’s so great to be able to have this night where my classmates are here … We’re a class that has a lot of spunk and a little bit of a rambunctious nature, but that’s really carried us to be successful.”
Lofton, a 2021 Wall of Fame inductee, the principal owner of Lofton Enterprises and the board chair at Dallas-based startup drug delivery company CourMed, has built an impressive career as a children’s health advocate and served at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, Howard University and the University of Louisville.
Brigety, the first African American graduate of the College of Medicine and the first physician in the Jacksonville area to perform laparoscopic surgery, is a trailblazer and medical history-maker in Florida who was inducted into the Wall of Fame this year. In addition to paving the way for all future African American physicians at UF, he is celebrated for his service as a senior physician medical consultant for the state of Florida since 1985.
And Free, a member of the college’s first graduating class and the man behind the naming of Gatorade who passed away last year, was posthumously recognized as a 2022 Wall of Fame inductee. His son, Doug, attended the event to accept the award on his behalf.
At the reception and dinner, Koch also recognized Stephanie Byerly, M.D. ’92, a life coach, professor in the department of anesthesiology and pain management at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of obstetrical anesthesiology at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, as the 2022 Notable Alumnus Lecturer and a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Leadership, which is given to alumni who have distinguished themselves in their field and brought honor upon their alma mater through their scholarly achievements.