PULLMAN, Wash. – John E. Olerud, acclaimed dermatologist, medical professor, former professional baseball player and recipient of the 2011 Washington State University Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, will talk about his remarkable and inspiring career in a free, public address Dec. 9.
Olerud, who earned his bachelor of science degree at WSU in 1965, will present “How Life and Science Are Like Baseball” at 2 p.m. in Bryan Hall Theatre on the Pullman campus. He will receive the university’s highest alumni honor during fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 10 in Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.
“Dr. Olerud’s outstanding scholarship and his leadership in his field of dermatology are both in the best tradition of the distinguished recipients of this award,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “His career exemplifies the sense of intellectual discovery that we try to instill in all of our students and we are proud to claim him as an alumnus.”
Head of the dermatology division at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Olerud also is the father of John G. Olerud, WSU first baseman and pitcher in the late 1980s who went on to play professionally for the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
WSU opens path to dream career
John E. Olerud was born in a small North Dakota town and grew up with the dream of becoming a doctor. While studying zoology at WSU, he played baseball under Coach Chuck “Bobo” Brayton. In 1965, as team captain and catcher, he helped take the Cougars to the College World Series and was named to the All-American Team.
That same year, he graduated from WSU and embarked on a dual career as a medical student at UW and a professional baseball player. In the 1965 Major League draft, he was selected in the fourth round (67th overall) by the California Angels and signed to their AAA Seattle club.
For the next seven years, during summers away from medical school, he played for a number of clubs, including the Seattle Angels, San Jose Bees, El Paso Sun Kings, Tulsa Oilers and Winnipeg Whips. In 1971, he graduated from medical school and retired from baseball.
An ace in the field of medicine
During his distinguished career in medicine, Olerud has become a renowned dermatologist and esteemed professor. A prolific researcher, he has published 92 refereed articles. He has served his profession in many prominent roles, such as the George F. Odland Professor of Medicine and head of the Division of Dermatology at UW, president of the Association of Professors of Dermatology, and principal investigator for numerous federal grants, including a training grant for physicians and scientists in skin biology.
Olerud has received many notable honors, including the UW School of Medicine Resident Teaching Award, now named in his honor, and placement among Seattle Magazine’s Top Doctors (2005, 2009), Seattle Metropolitan Magazine’s Top Doctors (2006, 2008), WA Magazine’s Best Doctors (2011), and the Best Doctors in America® (2011-2012). He was named to the WSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.
“John Olerud leads by inspiration and example,” said Brayton, who nominated him for the Regents’ award. “We can be proud of his exceptional service to the medical profession.”
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Learn more about the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.