PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University honored College of Pharmacy alumnus Dr. Robert H. Higgins with the 32nd Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award during a ceremony today on the Pullman campus.
WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and Joe King, president of the WSU Board of Regents, presented the award at the 4 p.m. program at Wegner Hall.
“How do you respond to an honor like this? It is a very humbling experience but an experience that fills one with pride,” Higgins said.
In his talk, “Opportunities and Leadership,” the Phi Gamma Delta alumnus spoke of fond memories of time spent at WSU.
“Washington State University certainly prepared me well for this voyage of life and for that I am most grateful, and to be honored by you for this voyage has certainly exceeded my goals and expectations,” Higgins said.
A retired Navy Rear Admiral, his U.S. Navy career included serving as Navy Deputy Surgeon and Navy Medical Corps chief. His honors include receiving the highest military peacetime award.
Following Navy duty in Vietnam and the United States, he had a medical private practice in Wenatchee. He left the practice in 1972 and returned to active naval service.
His extensive Navy background includes work in family practice, family medicine, residency training, emergency medical services and clinical services at Navy hospitals in Bremerton; Pendleton, Calif., and Charleston, S.C.
In 1987, after commanding the Pendleton hospital, he was promoted to Rear Admiral and assigned as Medical Officer of the Marine Corps at the Commandant’s Office in Washington, D.C. Two years later, he became Navy Deputy Surgeon, Deputy Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and Navy Medical Corps Chief.
Since his retirement from the Navy in 1993, Higgins has become involved in a project to reform Vietnam’s health care after witnessing its conditions first-hand while on duty there in 1966-67.
“I was appalled that they have no health care,” he said.
Higgins is a past president of the Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians. He is a past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and of the World Organization of Family Doctors. He is recipient of the award of merit from the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians, which he founded.
Active in wildlife conservation and the Boy Scouts of America, his WSU support includes service to the WSU Foundation and the WSU College of Pharmacy.
A Uniontown native and a Pullman High School graduate, he earned a pharmacy degree from WSU in 1957. Higgins was a pharmacist for five years before earning his medical degree from the University of Washington Medical School in 1965.
A reception followed the ceremony.