Dr. Kenneth D. Tuck, a practicing eye physician and surgeon from Roanoke, Va., was presented the Maryville College Medallion during the College’s annual Founder’s Day Banquet held Oct. 21 in the new Clayton Center for the Arts, located on the East Tennessee campus.
The Medallion is the highest award presented by the College. Recipients are chosen on the basis of their exemplary service to Maryville College, their outstanding service to their community and church and their prominence and leadership in their chosen profession or career.
Winners are selected by the College’s board of directors upon the recommendation of the president and an ad hoc committee.
“Ken Tuck is an example of all that is best at Maryville College - a serious scholar, a dedicated professional, and a generous contributor to the community,” said Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart. “He is extremely deserving of the Maryville College Medallion and joins an impressive group of 21 individuals whom the College has recognized, since 1990, for their significant contributions to this institution.”
Tuck is a 1954 alumnus of the College and current member of its board of directors.
During the award presentation, three individuals spoke about Tuck’s personal and professional accomplishments and his commitment to his alma mater.
Grandson Peter Coats, a 2009 graduate of the College, talked about Tuck’s childhood in rural Virginia and his perseverance to become a medical doctor. Dr. Ben Cash, professor of biology and chair of the College’s Natural Sciences Division, spoke about Tuck’s commitment to the sciences at Maryville College, to students and to faculty members. Elizabeth Bulette, another member of the College’s Board of Directors, described Tuck as a model board member.
The speakers specifically commended Tuck’s personal interest in and visible involvement at the College. They praised his support of faculty and staff professional development, renovations of biology labs in Sutton Science Center, the construction of Bartlett Hall and the Clayton Center for the Arts, the renovation of Anderson Hall and the Bonner Scholars endowment.
Cash also thanked him for mentoring MC students.
“There are numerous examples of ways in which Ken has given back to his alma mater, but one thing in particular that makes him a remarkable trustee is his ability to galvanize his fellow directors, fellow alumni, friends of the College and the community to want to be a part of this outstanding institution,” Bulette said. “Ken’s unwavering passion for his alma mater, his desire to not just show up, but to show up informed, engaged and excited about all of Maryville’s possibilities - given its faculty, its students, its alumni and friends, its leadership, its beautiful campus and its worthy mission.
“This is why Dr. Ken Tuck is ‘the Gold Standard of Trusteeship,’” she added.
Tuck enrolled at Maryville College in 1950 - a first-generation college student from Moneta, Va., where his parents owned and operated a tobacco and dairy farm. He had long dreamed of becoming a physician and majored in biology at Maryville. Graduating in 1954, he was accepted at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and added “M.D.” to his name in 1958.
In 1959, Tuck joined the Public Health Service in San Francisco, Calif., working as an ear, nose and throat specialist. He turned his attention to ophthalmology in 1961, entering a residency program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Before returning to Roanoke, Va., to set up his practice in 1964, he served with the Indian Health Service in Arizona.
As a practicing ophthalmologist for nearly 47 years, he has seen nearly 40 patients each working day. As a past president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), he has been instrumental in bringing doctors from developing countries to the United States for education and training with some of today’s leaders in eye care. Through this outreach program (a partnership between the AAO, Rotary Club International and the World Health Organization), sight is being restored now to millions who live with avoidable blindness.
In addition to his service with the AAO, Tuck has served as president of the Virginia Society of Ophthalmology, president of the Medical Society of Virginia and president of the Foundation of the Medical Society of Virginia. Since 2006, he has been a clinical assistant professor at the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Tuck’s awards and honors include the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Roanoke Valley Academy of Medicine, the Award of Honor by the Virginia Society of Ophthalmology, the Salute to Service Award from the Virginia Medical Society, a resolution of commendation from the Virginia General Assembly and Maryville College’s Alumni Citation.
As president of the executive board of the Maryville College Alumni Association, Tuck joined the College’s Board of Directors in 2004. He was elected to fill another slot in 2007 and is currently serving as chairman of the Board’s Advancement Committee.
Tuck is married to the former Sara Huff, and the couple lives in Roanoke. They have three grown daughters, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.