Louis Schmidt Award

© Robin Williams BSc MPhil PhD FBCA

2017 Louis Schmidt Laureate: Richard A. McNeely

Tucson, AZ, US

Richard McNeely, born in Paducah, Kentucky and raised in Dayton, Ohio, earned a Fine Arts Degree (1969) and then a Master’s degree in Educational Communications (1974) from The Ohio State University. In 1974, he was hired by the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson to the position of Chief, Instructional Materials Development for Medical Audiovisual Services.

When the College merged the audiovisual, television and cinematography services into one Division of Biomedical Communications in 1977, Rick was named Assistant Director of this newly created department. In 1986, he became Associate Director and in 1989 was promoted to Director.

In the early 1990’s Rick served a key role in connecting the College of Medicine in Tucson with the Phoenix campus via microwave services available through an existing statewide network. This connection initiated videoconferencing of health sciences courses and administrative meetings between the two campuses as well as with the public health and nursing programs at Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University.

In 1996, Rick McNeely worked with College of Medicine deans, administrators, and key Arizona legislators to establish a pilot project demonstrating the efficacy of telemedicine in delivering better health care to Arizona’s medically underserved rural areas. The Arizona Telemedicine Program rapidly grew from an eight-site pilot project to a self-sustaining program that today reaches more than 170 sites. Rick was named founding co-director of the program and directed all technical matters. The growth and success of the program was significantly enhanced through the skills of Rick’s Biomedical Communications Division where medical photographers advised on the use of early digital cameras and the television production section supported early teleconference activities. The older microwave system was quickly replaced by a modern T1/DS3 network operated by the Arizona Telemedicine Program. The resulting connectivity facilitated the Phoenix campus becoming a full-fledged College of Medicine in 2007.

Rick McNeely served as president of the Association of Biomedical Communications Directors in 1997, as chair of the Journal of Biocommunication Management Board from 1992-1997 and in 2000 he received the Health Sciences Communications Association’s Golden Raster Award for “…distinguished leadership in the field of biomedical communications, outstanding contributions to health sciences information (and) long and dedicated service…” Too numerous to mention are the many committees Rick has served on within the University of Arizona and several professional societies. His listing of presentations, posters, articles, book chapters, abstracts, workshops and consultancies number several hundred. Rick’s work with the Arizona Telemedicine Program was acknowledged through multiple awards from the US Distance Learning Association, HeSCA, ABCD and the American Telemedicine Association. Rick retired in 2010 from the University of Arizona.