June 9-22, 2000
Back Issues
First USEM fellows chosen
Growth researcher awarded $500,000 grant
Darden's new Progressive Incubator nurtures students' award-winning ideas

Health System promotes research-industry ties

Outstanding Employees improve the lives of others
Employees honored for years of service to U.Va.
Questions about the new pay plan?
In Memoriam
Hot Links - UVA NewsMakers
U.Va. enters envrionmental education partnership
A record year for CMC
U.Va. looks at former landfill
Commonwealth setles third U.Va. balcony lawsuit
Add to abundant levels of skill and caring an unlimited supply of positive attitudes, mixed with generous dashes of humor, and you have this year's recipients of Outstanding Contribution Awards. These employees excel at meeting the challenges of their jobs at the University, from improving patient care to streamlining procedures in various departments. Even more importantly, countless times they show themselves to be exemplary human beings who enrich the lives of those around them. They were honored at a banquet June 6, along with employees who have worked at U.Va. for 25 years or more.

Helen AntonioHelen Antonio

When one U.Va. anesthesiology resident tries to help another, a commonly heard, friendly retort is "Nice, but you're no Helen," wrote Dr. Victor C. Baum, who nominated senior anesthesia technician Helen Antonio for an Outstanding Contribution Award.

Antonio, who has worked in the anesthesiology department since 1986, is responsible for setting up and stocking several operating rooms, along with induction rooms, where patients wait for surgery. She also assists in putting in the patients' arterial, central venous and pulmonary arterial catheters.

Although Antonio's training as a physician in the Phillippines doesn't qualify her to practice here in the U.S., she informally teaches residents and medical students these complex, invasive techniques. "This is clearly far above the level of her job description, but she does it in such a casual and supportive manner that not only would a resident or student never take offense, but they appreciate the input," Baum said.

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Surgery Dr. David Bogdonoff, the medical director of operating rooms, makes sure others get the benefit of Antonio's expertise. "Working side by side with Helen is an important educational situation for my anesthesiology residents, and much of what they learn about placement of invasive monitoring lines comes from working with Helen," he said. All 13 of the senior residents signed a letter of support for her nomination.

She also manages to stay in a pleasant mood even after getting to her job by 5 a.m. and working in the intense atmosphere of the cardiac operating rooms. "I have never -- not once -- seen her get upset," Baum said.

Her outstanding service also extends to her care of patients. While they are waiting to go into surgery -- serious, life-threatening operations -- she helps them relax by playing music on tapes she has brought from home.

"I can think of no other person ... who exhibits the kind of compassionate care to patients, thoughtful attention to her job and pleasant, supportive interaction with her co-workers," said Dr. Carl Lynch, Robert M. Epstein Professor and chair of the department. "I consider it a privilege to have her working with me."

-- Anne Bromley

Bruce "Sonny" BealeBruce "Sonny" Beale

"The first time I met Sonny, I saw what a lot of people probably see -- the long hair, the tattoos, the lingering aura of rebelliousness that he'll never quite shake off," wrote Amanda Buck, a student employee of the U.Va. recycling program who reports to Bruce "Sonny" Beale, the program's operations manager

"What I didn't realize then was that Sonny doesn't even come close to filling any kind of stereotype," she wrote in her letter supporting Beale's nomination for an Outstanding Contribution Award.

In reading the comments of Beale's many admirers, a clearer portrait emerges. The student workers he supervises value his wisdom, advice and approachability. His customers laud his helpfulness, his flexibility and his commitment to recycling.

"He made suggestions that fit our needs as a department," wrote Debbie McDaniel, an administrative assistant at Student Health. "His concern was that he makes it easy for employees to recycle. This type of attitude has made the recycling program the success we feel it is."

Recycling czar Dennis Clark put numbers on some of Beale's contributions. Working with residents of the Copeley Hill family housing area and the Alderman Road first-year dorms, he saves the Housing Division about $7,500 per year in trash removal bills. To improve the processing of cardboard, Beale recommended a new piece of equipment; it requires almost 40 percent less labor, generates almost 40 percent more revenue and saves $4,000 in cleanup fees for commencement exercises, Clark said.

Three years ago, Beale started a now-successful program to divert the huge amounts of cardboard waste generated on "move-in day," and recently began another to recover useful material from "move-out," including carpets, fans, clothes, cinder blocks and lofts.

Beale has a sense for marketing, too. Have you seen the "U.Va. Recycling" logos on trucks around Grounds? "Another Sonny Beale invention," Clark said. Beale is also active in both Boy Scouts and the Piedmont Little League, whose president, Clay Ferneyhough, writes, "Sonny's positive attitude and exceptional sportsmanship have been witnessed and impressed upon several hundred children."

There's more. He hunts for old bicycles to refurbish and pass along to children who would not otherwise be able to afford them. The catch? The child, and if possible a parent, must help fix up the bike, thereby learning a skill and stimulating parent-child interaction.

Now that's re-cycling.

-- Dan Heuchert

James DarinJames Darin

These days, you hear a lot about the tumultuous nature of health care in the managed-care world. Rapid change often leads to conflict; when you have conflict, you need trouble-shooters like James Darin

Technically, James Darin's title is patient care services manager for the Health System's outpatient surgical clinics. But his impact goes well beyond the narrow definition of ajob title.

A year ago, Darin was drafted to coordinate the re-centralizing of the Health System's various physical therapy units into a new Core Clinical Services group, meshing together approximately 30 therapists and working closely with more than 200 people crossing seven professional disciplines.

In nine months, he "improved service delivery while reducing Medical Center costs in excess of $1 million," said his supervisor, James E. McGowan, administrator of Patient Care Services.

By now, you might assume that Darin is unpopular with the people he oversees. He's changing their work, cutting costs, improving their efficiency.

You would be wrong. Darin's boss didn't nominate him, though he gladly provided one of 11 letters of support. One of the people he supervises did: Kathleen Henahan, lead professional for physical therapy.

Once assigned the re-centralization project, he threw himself into it, meeting with those affected, learning their jobs and explaining his. "His approachable demeanor and availability to the staff have earned him the respect of the therapists," she wrote.

While streamlining, he focused more, rather than less, on staff development. He has promoted wage personnel into higher roles and pushed continuing education for staff members, going the extra mile to find funding for those opportunities.

"His ability to bring the staff together to tackle often sensitive topics like staffing resources ... has been nothing short of miraculous," Henahan wrote.

Darin seems to specialize in working out sensitive issues.

"We had a number of 'sticky' personnel matters that he basically 'unstuck,'" in a prior job assignment, wrote dermatology department chair Dr. Kenneth E. Greer after McGowan "loaned" Darin to his department to assist in addressing some management issues.

"His calm demeanor in the face of intense personnel differences or opinion is legendary," agreed Dr. Thomas E. Leinbach, chair of dentistry, who worked with Darin as part of a process improvement project. "This man cannot be rattled. He taught us how to deal with each other."

Barbara Deetz, R.N. coordinator for surgical services, summed it up. "If someone were to ask me the one trait that Jim has that is missing from so many other people, it would be his ability to let people feel that they really are needed, and that he cares what happens to them."

-- Dan Heuchert

Michelle FlynnMichelle Flynn

The role of a social worker is to help those in need. Michelle Flynn, a clinical social worker senior at The Women's Place, not only reaches out to patients, their families and the community to improve services, she also looks for ways to better U.Va. employees' work environments.

In her six years here, "Michelle has gone well above and beyond the call of duty in creating meaningful and effective links with agencies in this community," wrote Heather Lee, director of education at The Women's Place, which provides comprehensive health care for women at every stage of life

She "consistently functions as part of the team, developing and implementing protocol, policy and procedure when necessary," said nurse Ann Peery, who nominated her colleague for the Outstanding Contribution Award. For example, Flynn developed, implemented and managed the Perinatal Services Social Work program, which serves women and families who receive reproductive health services here.

"Her skillful networking has not only improved the case management services which are available for patients, but it has greatly improved the Health System's visibility and accessibility in the community," Lee said.

In addition to her social work duties, Flynn is chair of the Medical Center Employee Council. She "has found numerous ways to improve accessibility to the council and to encourage employee participation," wrote Ronald A. Bouchard, Health System chief administrative officer. She arranged to have monthly meeting minutes posted online and for an e-mail address to be established, accessible only by the council chair, to enable employees to voice concerns anonymously if desired, he said.

Flynn is also a member of U.Va.'s Executive Committee of the Employee Communications Council. Her many contributions to this council, as well as to the Medical Center, "have served to set an example to her co-workers of someone who cares enough to make the University a better place," said Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Lee agreed. "Michelle is a tireless champion for the image of this organization and for the quality of services that we provide. She is capable of recognizing areas that need improvement and acting with creativity and enthusiasm to bring about the necessary changes."

-- Rebecca Arrington

Frank HillFrank Hill

From operating a crane, to organizing snow removal efforts, to finding a waterline break -- night or day -- the tasks Frank Hill handles vary widely. His approach to them, however, is always the same, say those who work with the Facilities Management employee.

"He takes ownership of a problem, stays focused until the job is completed to everyone's satisfaction, and makes friends in the process," wrote Richard S. Fowler, director of facilities operations, in nominating Hill, a highway equipment operator C, for an Outstanding Contribution Award.

A certified forklift instructor, Hill safely maneuvers "powerful and lumbering machinery as though they were compact cars with power steering,˛ Fowler said.

Whether it's moving obsolete equipment or relocating extremely delicate and expensive research instrumentation, if "Frank's on board, jobs get done well and quickly," said Rick Marshall, director of laboratories in the physics department. "Frank Hill's forklift and crane skills are exemplary."

Hill also works with all departments to load toxic materials for disposal by U.Va.'s Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Another duty he performs is field operations supervisor for snow removal. This service "benefits every employee, student and visitor" here, Fowler said, noting that he keeps co-workers' "spirits up as nerves fray after long, cold hours of repetitious work."

Because of his expertise during snowstorms, the University has come to rely on Hill's judgment when making decisions as to cancellation or adjustments of events due to inclement weather, Fowler said.

The University Police also counts on Hill to insure that access roads and parking lots are accessible to emergency response vehicles during bad weather, said Chief of Police Michael Sheffield. "With a smile, he is always ready for the unforeseen problem. His ability to evaluate and adapt to any emergency need has been a tremendous asset on many occasions."

"Day after day, week after week, year after year ...I've enjoyed working with Frank and respect his opinions," wrote Richard G. Shifflett, a recently retired supervisor who's known Hill since he began working at U.Va. in 1977. "Every boss wishes he had a Frank Hill."

-- Rebecca Arrington

Barry KearBarry Kear

Surgery is not the kind of experience people would choose to have if it wasn't necessary, but a Health System employee's positive attitude can go a long way in making a patient's stay in the hospital bearable. Barry Kear, a patient services assistant with perioperative services who transports patients to the operating room, has received an Outstanding Contribution Award for his winning ways with patients and co-workers

"The most outstanding contribution Mr. Kear makes to providing quality patient care is the way he comforts the patient and family members while he transports the patient to the [operating room] for his/her surgery," notes Elise-Elaine Brigham, a nurse practitioner who is the education coordinator for perioperative services. He happens to have a physical disability that doesn't appear to hold him back as he pushes stretchers and beds, often with little or no assistance, and ferries supplies, specimens and X-rays around the hospital many times a day.

Kear, who has worked at U.Va. for 31 years, has also received many "Employee of the Month" awards from several different departments for his dedicated service. Patients are only in transit for a short time during their stays, but Kear gives them his utmost attention and care, creating "a reflection of the image that the Health System wants to provide to our customers," wrote Doris Shifflett, an administrative assistant for perioperative services, who nominated him. Add to all this a willingness to help his co-workers and even walk to work during snowstorms.

Brigham describes him as "the link between the 'safe area' of the patient's room and the unknown of impending surgery. Naturally, the patient's anxiety level rises when he/she realizes the time for surgery is imminent, but by the time he/she arrives in the OR, much of the patient's fears have been allayed by Mr. Kear's behavior."

-- Anne Bromley

Robert RosseterRobert Rosseter

Most of the University's schools don't have to worry about bringing in revenue, but the School of Continuing and Professional Studies has to support itself by selling its courses and programs. Located in Falls Church, U.Va.'s Northern Virginia Center is probably in one of the most competitive markets. With the help of marketing director Robert Rosseter, who's only been there for two years, the center is more successful than ever.

"In this relatively short amount of time, Robert has become one of the most effective, influential persons employed by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies," wrote director Steve Gladis, who nominated Rosseter for an Outstanding Contribution Award.

During "a time of exceptional growth," Rosseter has worked with staff, media and students in developing and promoting the center's programs, including its new information technology certificate program. Rather than simply sending out a barrage of costly advertisements and leaving enrollment to the chance that they'd be seen, he laid out a strategic plan that is working so well, the center is over-budget, unlike past years. The information technology program brought in $400,000 in its first year. Rosseter also created a free, monthly e-mail newsletter for students, corporate clients and other constituents.

"His tactical use of relation-building activities, including press releases, targeted marketing materials and media interviews, combined to establish not one, but two completely over-subscribed programs that have waiting lists for admission," said coworker Russ Lentner.

"Not only did this method save his marketing budget," explained Gladis, "but we all discovered that the resulting impartial news stories brought in many more calls for information than traditional advertisements. In the case of our new Information Technology Certificate, one front-page story in The Fairfax Journal eventually brought in over 1,000 requests for information."

"Everyone counts on him because he never shies away from giving thoughtful, truthful opinions that are always in the best interest of the University," Gladis said.

Rosseter applies the same organization and thoroughness to whatever area he tackles. When the center was short-staffed, he volunteered to oversee the registration process and not only succeeded in streamlining it, he also "made the students happier and more informed, improved the morale of the registration staff, increased registration revenue and increased knowledge of registration issues among the entire 30-person staff," according to Gladis.

-- Anne Bromley

Linda ShifflettLinda W. Shifflett

The list of people who nominated Linda Shifflett for this year's Outstanding Contribution Award reads like a Who's Who at the University, including the president and two vice presidents

Though she's spent her 25 years at U.Va. working for its upper echelon of administrators, Shifflett's regard for all at the University is "doggedly democratic," wrote Polley McClure, U.Va.'s former vice president and chief information officer who is now in a similar post at Cornell.

"Whether a state senator, a physical plant worker, a corporate CEO, or an ITC employee, he or she is greeted with the same enthusiasm by Linda," the office manager for U.Va.'s Office of Information Technologies.

Shifflett recently received flowers from the messenger mail employee who handles the needs of her office "for being so nice." McClure agrees. "I have never worked with a more capable and caring person. ...Linda is simply without peer."

When McClure left U.Va. last year, Dr. Robert Reynolds became interim vice president and chief information officer. It was Shifflett's "special kind of efficiency and detailed knowledge of the University˛ that helped convince him to accept the position. "Knowing that she would serve as the organizational point person for my new responsibilities was essential and reassuring,˛ he said.

Shifflett's "thorough attention to detail, diligence in duty and unsurpassed knowledge of the University proved invaluable to me on occasions too numerous to count," concurred President John T. Casteen III. "She was the person to whom most everyone on my staff and throughout Madison Hall turned for advice about navigating the University's administrative waters."

ITC's Trisha Gordon wrote of her colleague, "She competently handles the mundane and the insane with equal efficiency, good humor and professionalism." During the past year, she has provided key support for such major events as the e-summit, various state governmental meetings and the national meeting of the Common Solutions Groups, comprised of vice presidents and advanced technology officers from the major Internet 2 universities.

Within ITC, Shifflett has "implemented countless new processes that have streamlined our internal operations. Many of her innovations are relatively small ones ... but the cumulative effect is quite profound," Reynolds said.

"Would Linda credit herself with these attributes? No doubt she would say she is just doing her job," Gordon said.

--Rebecca Arrington

David ShortDavid P. Short

For nearly two decades, David P. Short has been quietly working his magic as a member of the Buildings and Grounds crew at the University of Virginia's College at Wise.

A 1980 graduate of U.Va.­Wise, Short began his service to the college as a student worker in facilities management. A year after graduation, Short was hired as a full-time utilities serviceman there.

Short now supervises a crew of 14 full-time employees plus a contingent of student workers. With Short as a mentor, the time students spend mowing lawns and painting walls becomes more than a means to a paycheck.

"He gives them the confidence and direction that cannot be taught in the classroom," wrote John Reeves, director of facilities, who nominated Short for the award. "None of his student workers leave this college without a true sense of commitment and pride that follows them throughout life."

Described by those who know him as "a man of few words," Short has made his mark with his dedication to his job and his loyalty to the employees he supervises. He sets a shining example for his pupils. "David can often be seen on weekends and after hours mowing the lawns here at U.Va.-Wise," Reeves wrote. "He sees that a job has to be done and he does it. It's a matter of pride and principle."

Despite a never-ending list of "urgent˛ work requests, Short's calm exterior never belies the stresses inherent to his job. "It's a balancing act of trying to get people where they are needed and to make decisions about what should be done first," Short said. With his guidance, the result is a smooth and seamless flow of activities.

"I can think of no one who has been so patient, determined and loyal to the college and his responsibilities here," Laura Pritchard wrote in support of Short's nomination. This is the third year he has been nominated.

-- Jane Meade-Dean

Judy WarderJudy Warder

It's amazing sometimes to see how one small decision gets made, and then one thing leads to another, and people's lives -- and an institution -- are changed.

So it was in 1994, when Judy Warder was asked to serve as a study coordinator for several industry-sponsored drug trials in the Medical Center's electromyography lab. It was a somewhat unusual request, said Dr. Lawrence Phillips II, the lab's medical director, because Warder is a technician and not a registered nurse, as most study coordinators are. But she agreed to accept the extra duties anyway, and did an exemplary job.

The subjects of the trials were patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a neuromuscular ailment that kills its sufferers within five years of the onset of symptoms. But Warder did not think of them as mere "trial subjects."

"She has gradually assumed the role of coordinating overall clinical care for patients, which does not end once the drug trial ends," Phillips wrote in nominating Warder for an Outstanding Contribution Award. "She has become their friend, ombudsman, counselor and advocate. Often, after an ALS patient dies, the surviving family maintains contact with Judy as they go through their grieving and adjustment process."

Those contacts led Warder to meet Patricia Dart, a local attorney whose brother died of ALS at another hospital. Together, they co-founded the Blue Ridge ALS Support Group in 1997, which Warder continues to co-direct, coordinating the monthly meetings, choosing the program, and composing and distributing a monthly newsletter for group members.

The ripples extend even further. Warder and Dart led fund-raising efforts that led to February's opening of the Richard R. Dart ALS Clinic at the U.Va. Medical Center, a comprehensive care facility for ALS that is unique in the state. Warder is often invited to speak to lay, patient and professional groups around the state about caring for ALS patients.

"Judy is an invaluable asset for the department of neurology and for the University of Virginia," Phillips wrote. And it all started because Warder took on a position for which some might have thought she was underqualified.

-- Dan Heuchert

Tammy WilkinsTammy Wilkins

Office Manager Tammy Wilkins is the "good-humored traffic cop for command central at the University," wrote Treasurer Alice Handy in her letter supporting Wilkins for an Outstanding Contribution Award. Both Wilkins and Handy, who is also president of U.Va.'s Investment Management Company, report to "command central" head, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Leonard W. Sandridge.

"Managing the life of someone whose operating style is to be accessible to everyone is no small task," Handy said of Wilkins's role in Sandridge's office. On any given day, she answers countless e-mails and some 75 phone calls, while scheduling meetings, and responding to the requests of board members, faculty, employees, students, alumni and others.

The "embodiment of multi-tasking, Tammy is the vital link between Mr. Sandridge's office and the managers reporting directly to him," said Tim R. Rose, chief executive officer of the University of Virginia Foundation.

Wilkins has worked at U.Va. for almost 16 years, with all but six months of that time for Sandridge. Over the years as the University's physical and financial needs have grown, the office has gone through many changes and names -- from the Budget Office, to the Office of Vice President for Business and Finance, to the Office of the Executive Vice President and now extending to the Health System. Throughout this expansion, Wilkins' "dedicated work ethic and pleasant demeanor have remained constant," Sandridge wrote.

"Given the increased schedule I have kept over the past several months, Tammy has coordinated at least 100 meetings per month," he said of his "right-hand" assistant. "She has amazing 'instant recall' of names, facts and documents." And no matter how busy she is, she "always takes the time to make sure our visitors are comfortable and have what they need," he said.

"I very much appreciate Tammy's outstanding contributions. ... The roles she plays on a daily basis have never been more important to what we do," Sandridge said.

-- Rebecca Arrington


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