June 7-20, 2002
Back Issues
Board adopts $1.44B budget
Goodwins fund new Cancer Center trials
U.Va.’s Outstanding Employees
Years of Service
Faculty Actions

Summer season plays offer waves of laughter

Notable -- awards and achievements of faculty and staff
Carey charted successful tenure as dean of the Medical School

U.Va.'s Outstanding Employees

• Reggie Baker greets patients with extra care

Reggie Baker
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Randolph “Reggie” Baker

Randolph “Reggie” Baker genuinely cares for the patients he encounters daily at the West Hospital Complex entrance, a gateway for cancer and kidney patients.

Baker’s caring began more than 25 years ago when his brother died from cancer at age 16. “He was real sick, and he needed lots of help,” Baker recalled.

Baker, a supervisor of the front door team, personally greets thousands of patients each year. He has trained himself to become familiar enough with patients’ schedules to anticipate their needs. A 20-year U.Va. employee, Baker has received an Outstanding Contribution Award for providing excellent customer service.

“I believe Randolph is able to go above and beyond what is expected of him because of his outgoing personality and genuine caring for human beings,” said Emanuel Brown, Baker’s supervisor since 1998.

“I know the routine. One day a patient will look healthy, then they lose their hair, soon they are helped from their vehicles, and soon they are gone. It is very sad,” Baker said. “But I enjoy getting to know them. I like helping them.”

Brown said, “Reggie remembers patients’ names, their family names and even their next clinic appointments. He makes their sometimes-painful and unpleasant visit more bearable.”

This kind of assistance earned Baker the Employee of the Month award for December 2000. One of the people who nominated him commented, “A Cancer Center patient had faced roadblocks in his personal life and was feeling very despondent and overwhelmed, physically and emotionally. Reggie noticed and spent more time than usual with the patient.

“Later, the patient reported that the extra time spent with Reggie saved his life.”

— Katherine Jackson

• Boyajian is ‘public face’ of family medicine

Robert Boyajian
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Robert Boyajian

Being just another friendly face is not enough for Robert Boyajian.

As the man at the front desk in the University’s Department of Family Medicine, he is a constant source of smiles, greetings and felicitations, but the extent to which he reaches out to patients, co-workers and anyone who comes his way goes far beyond the call of duty.

“I believe that Bob is the ‘public face’ of family medicine, and we’re looking good because of him,” Dr. M. Norman Oliver, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine, wrote in recommending Boyajian for an Outstanding Contribution Award.

“I regularly sreceive accolades from patients about his attention to their concerns,” said Dr. Sim S. Galazka, Walter M. Seward Professor and chair of the department. “To give an example, an elderly patient had no telephone access and had a serious heart condition and medication complications requiring frequent contact. I was unable to resolve this problem through standard means. Bob found a way for this patient to obtain a phone, an absolutely critical instrument in keeping her well.

“This is not unusual behavior for him. He truly cares about our patients and personally works with them with compassion, warmth and understanding,” Galazka wrote.

Boyajian was a patient in 1995 before he began volunteering at the main hospital’s information desk. He was recruited for full-time employment and continued as a hospital auxiliary member in various capacities, including assisting with a newsletter and helping organize the annual Relay for Life.

After moving to his current position in family medicine, he volunteered to work after hours in the gift shop so it could remain open in the evenings.
“The gift shop has experienced record evening sales due to Bob’s enthusiastic salesmanship and capable supervision,” said Lithe A. McCaslin, gift shop manager for the hospital auxiliary.

“He is a model for all of us in his dedication and caring,” Galazka said.

— Lee Graves

• One kidney less, Liz Courain is a bigger human being

Liz Courain
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Liz Courain

Among an employee’s qualifications for an Outstanding Contribution Award, donating a kidney to one of your charges certainly ranks right up there.

But Liz Courain’s selfless act of organ donation (see Inside UVA, Jan. 11) only served to illuminate her many contributions to the U.Va. Health System, where she is director of volunteer services.

At a time when health care organizations nationwide are struggling financially, volunteer workers are more valuable than ever. Courain leads a force of more than 1,200 volunteers, yet takes time to interview all of her adult group, supervise their orientation and follow up with them to make sure their experience is personally satisfying.

“Since volunteers work for personal satisfaction and not money, Liz must motivate them and not simply command,” noted Dorothy Richards, president of the U.Va. Hospital Auxiliary.

Courain also has the rare ability to come up with a good idea and see it through. Her supporters point to the establishment of a bank of language interpreters, who give non-English-speaking patients the same access to care that English speakers receive.

“Liz is an irresistible force who has never met an immovable object,” declared Ronald A. Bouchard, the system’s chief administrative officer.

Bouchard recalled Courain’s decision to donate a kidney to an ailing volunteer. She did extensive research, consulted with the people her decision would affect, prepared diligently for surgery, then told her story to others.

It’s the same way she approaches everything, he said.

“She first lived what she teaches — when you see a need, find a way to fill it. Get all the facts. Identify the people who will be impacted. Seek their input. Prepare yourself to the extent possible for the challenge ahead. Take action. Deal with the results. Share the good news — it attracts energetic, dedicated people to your cause.”

— Dan Heuchert

• Raydell Cross: the “conscience” of UVa’s College at Wise

Raydell Cross
Raydell Cross

For 22 years, Raydell Cross was an indispensable resource at the University’s College at Wise and a veritable storehouse of knowledge about all matters related to purchasing, accounts payable and campus telephone service.

Cross left her native Wise County, where the University’s only four-year branch college is located, shortly after graduating from high school, but decided to move home when her son, Greg, was ready for junior high. She began working at the college in 1980.

She was the switchboard operator for a year before moving to accounts payable, where she was known for her understanding of purchasing procedures and for her mischievous wit.

“We used to handle work-study payroll and process student parking stickers and registration fees,” Cross recalled. “I loved meeting the students and joking with them.”

Mary O’Quinn, the psychology professor who nominated Cross for the award, described her as the “efficient and staunch defender of the college.”

Cross was the person faculty looked to for help with travel policies and reimbursements. And administrators sought her guidance on the dos and don’ts of purchasing.

“For a great many people, policy has simply been ‘ask Raydell,’” wrote George E. Culbertson, senior vice chancellor and provost, in support of Cross’ nomination. “This has been the case because Raydell has been consistently scrupulous in her work, profound in her understanding of changing policy and genuinely desirous of working with college personnel, faculty and administrators.”

Registrar Sheila Cox Combs described Cross as the “conscience” of UVa-Wise. “She knows the rules and regulations about spending money and works hard to make sure that everyone here works within those rules,” Combs wrote.

Cross, who retired from the College in April, says she misses her extended family at UVa-Wise. “I miss the people,” Cross said. “The college is a great place to work. I enjoyed it so much.”

— Jane Meade-Dean

• Roberts works behind the scenes of interior design

Shirley Roberts
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Shirley Roberts

Shirley Roberts had no design for the path her career would follow when she became a U.Va. employee 34 years ago.

From her first job as a secretary in the department of psychiatric medicine to her current position as head of the Interior Design Office in the Health System, she has dedicated herself to producing quality work.

“Shirley Roberts did not simply do the job,” said Jules I. Levine, associate vice president for the Health System, in recommending her for an Outstanding Contribution Award. “She has had a wonderful positive influence on the institution by sensitizing everyone to the importance of the interior environment, the impact it can have on the healing of patients and the work environment for faculty and staff.”

She is praised for her interpersonal communication and problem-solving skills and professionalism, as well as her sense of humor, energy and patience. Always cost-conscious, she’s known as a fair but tough negotiator by vendors and the University’s purchasing department alike.

Her contributions can be seen all around Grounds, from the Health System to the President’s Office.

Roberts created the position, which will be eliminated when she retires this month, in the 1980s. Over the years, she has faced many challenges but has felt rewarded by being able to meet and work with so many different people. “It was exciting to make their space look the way they wanted it to look and be very functional,” she said.

Linda Watson, director of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, praised Roberts’ legacy to the recently completed library renovation. “[People] may not know who was behind the scenes, working on their behalf, but my guess is that’s the way Shirley would want it — letting her work speak for her.”

Nancy Ellen Artis, educational director at the Children’s Medical Center, said, “She has been a dedicated steward of the University.”

— Jane Ford

• For buses, riders, Feggans offers service with a smile

Clarence Feggans is a guy you want to have around. And he is around … and around, and around, and around, as he drives his regular daily bus route for the University Transit Service.

Few U.Va. employees have the opportunity to interact with as many members of the University community each day as do UTS drivers. Students, faculty, staff, visitors — they all ride the bus. Feggans sees to it that their encounters are friendly, safe and efficient.

“Clarence greets his passengers with a warm ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon,’ and takes time to explain options to customers who are looking for directions to specific areas on the Grounds,” David J. Kloss, assistant director for transit operations, wrote in nominating Feggans for an Outstanding Contribution Award. “Mr. Feggans is a role model for all to emulate.”

Feggans’ passengers aren’t the only ones to benefit from his work. His mentorship of the ever-changing fleet of student drivers provides a cornerstone for the organization. His supervisors seek him out for his input and knowledge of the bus operation. His professional performance on charters brings in repeat business for UTS. Feggans even volunteers to lend a hand on weekends with his former colleagues on the crew that services the bus fleet. (He moved from under the engine cowl to the driver’s seat nearly eight years ago.)

In short, he is a shining beacon of professionalism, inside and outside UTS, his supporters say.

“He cares about his job, and that trait shines through in everything he does, every single day,” said Kendall Howell, assistant to the director of the Department of Parking and Transportation Services.

— Dan Heuchert

• Munson known as the ‘go to’ coworker

Janice Munson
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Janice Munson

For the 240 graduate students in biomedical sciences, Janice Munson is part fairy godmother, part banker. As the fiscal administrator for the School of Medicine’s Graduate Programs Office, she has helped students get a reimbursement plan for health insurance, resolve their administrative or funding problems and organize the annual research symposium for their work.

“Ms. Munson regularly acts as an advocate for students,” said Michael D. Davis, president of the Graduate Biosciences Society.

The Graduate Programs Office provides financial and administrative services that span several U.Va. schools and more than 20 departments and interdisciplinary programs.

After her first year on the job in 1991, Munson saved the office more than $400,000 “just by scrupulous oversight of expenditures ... and encouraging/ facilitating submission of institutional and individual fellowship and training grants,” wrote Gary K. Owens, associate dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs, in nominating her for the Outstanding Contribution Award.

Several program administrators on the staff who supported her nomination said they depend on her for keeping them up to date. This year she steered the group through a new accounting system.

“Because of her circumspect accounting and research skills, Ms. Munson is known as the ‘go to’ person for program administrators,” wrote Jane C. Adair and several others in supporting their colleague.

In addition, she designed a training program to make sure program and fiscal administrators handle graduate funding correctly. It may be “the only known instruction for program staff involved in support of both departmental and interdisciplinary graduate programs,” said associate professor Joel W. Hockensmith, director of the biochemistry & molecular genetics graduate program.
“Janice simply goes above and beyond the call of duty as a fiscal administrator and takes on the role of an educator,” he said.

— Anne Bromley

• If the pipe breaks, they call Durrer

Charles E. Durrer spent Christmas with a broken water main.

Durrer, director of utilities at Facilities Management, was cited for his extraordinary efforts on behalf of the University, including responding to several broken gas lines, water line ruptures, steam line problems and resolving a Christmas-day water main failure that could have disrupted fire protection.

“This put things on hold for everybody’s family,” said Durrer, who praised co-workers Vern Lamb, Sandy Gardner and Frank Hill for their efforts that day. “[The family] understands when the University calls, we have to go.”

A self-taught man with a firm understanding of engineering concepts and thorough knowledge of building codes, Durrer is frequently consulted by engineers, regulatory officials and others for technical input during design and construction, both on Grounds and from other universities.

Durrer is credited with saving the University money through increased efficiencies in chilled water plants, devising less expensive ways of replacing sewer and water lines, managing storm water and suggesting better utility routes in several renovation plans.

“In emergency situations, Charlie Durrer’s exceptional responsiveness, vast technical expertise and model leadership of his crews have restored interrupted utilities to our clinical and research facilities in stunningly short time spans,” said Will Shaw, assistant director of the Health System physical plant. “He has always produced the necessary human, equipment and material resources, sometimes seemingly out of thin air.”

N. Earl Ward, senior project manager of Facilities Management’s planning and construction department, said, “We have avoided costly redesign, interruption to service and rework that could have been encountered if it were not for Mr. Durrer’s involvement.”

“I try to do 110 percent in the 20 years I have been here and I try to instill that in my people as well,” Durrer said.

— Matt Kelly

• Russell raises the bar for nurse practitioners

Dale Russell
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Dale Russell

John Zenker knows there must have been a time before Katherine Dale Russell became outcomes manager in neurosciences. “But it’s almost impossible to remember how we got along,” said Zenker, a physical therapist.

Russell and a colleague proposed the position of outcomes manager in January 1999 while both were in U.Va.’s graduate program for nurse practitioners. In just one year, their work netted a savings of more than $2 million, due to fewer patient complications and shorter stays.

The cost of in-patient care is not the only improvement Russell has made.

Collaboration and communication between staff members has increased and the coordination of in-patient and follow-up care is much better, according to Heather Turner, a nurse who considers Russell a mentor.

In nominating her, Russell’s supervisor, Susan Prather, wrote, “She is so sincere and articulate in our need to provide excellent care for every single patient that she has truly been a role model for all patient care providers.”

The patients in the Neuroscience Service Center come in with head or spinal cord injuries, brain tumors or cerebral hemorrhage. They go from intensive care through a pain-staking recovery in some cases. Russell’s clinical research involves trying to improve the mechanisms of their care, from a better medication cycle to improved feeding-tube protocol.

Russell also teaches in the Nursing School and lectures nationally on outcomes management. A year ago, she revived Nursing Grand Rounds, a lecture series where U.Va. nurses report on their research, as a way to educate and inspire each other.

“Dale has created a new paradigm and set the highest standard for the role of nurse practitioner,” wrote Dr. David Vincent, chief resident of neurosurgery.

Her accomplishments are noticed by more than just her colleagues.

According to Vincent, “The only group that thinks more of Dale than her co-workers is the patients — they absolutely adore her.”

— Anne Bromley

• Ooh, la la! Terri Smith is a treasure

Terri Smith
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Terri Smith

Terri E. Smith, administrator for the French department, pushes the envelope of human capabilities in an office setting. She’s a conference organizer par excellence, a budget manager, menu planner, student supervisor, Oracle ace, visa expert, problem solver, hand-holder to faculty members and mother-confessor to graduate students.

Just ask the three faculty members who have served as department chair and nominated Smith for the award. John Lyons, Mary McKinley and Roland Simon have depended on her down-to-earth manner, devotion and discretion for the past five years.

In that time, she has organized two world-class conferences, including the 34th annual meeting of the North American Society for 17th-Century French Studies held in March. She also has supported faculty searches, faculty research, visiting professors and graduate students, and supervises the office staff with care and humor.

No detail is too small or beyond her efficient touch. She took on the aging faculty lounge, replacing furniture and adding a water cooler and coffee machine, and encouraged more informal contacts between faculty members and students.
Smith keeps a certain sangfroid about her duties. The week before the department was to host the international conference this year, there was a bomb scare in Cabell Hall, where the French department offices are located, and it had to be evacuated.

“Terri Smith was seen in the parking lot with her cell phone in one hand and a file folder in the other,” the nominating faculty members wrote. “Not even an evacuation and yellow police tape could keep [her] from getting her work done on time.”

Adds Cheryl Krueger, associate professor and language program director: “By watching her remain poised and helpful in difficult situations … I have been inspired to evaluate and improve my own interpersonal and administrative skills.”

“There’s no doubt about it,” noted Janet Horne, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the French department, “she’s a gem!”

— Charlotte Crystal

• Barbara Strain streamlines supply ordering

Barbara Strain
Photo by Matt Kelly
Barbara Strain

Barbara A. Strain saved the Health System $6 million over two to three years.

As manager of Supply Standardization and Logistics, and before that as clinical supply analyst, she has been instrumental in creating a system of group purchasing, product evaluations and supply chain logistics. This resulted in standardization in many clinical areas and across department lines, a goal thought impossible for academic medical centers. She said the plan included re-examining long-standing contracts to keep up with technology and consolidating similar purchases.

Strain, of Albemarle County, had been the chief technologist of clinical microbiology until she took over her current position in 1997. She has been an employee of the University for 17 years, holding a variety of jobs.

“I had no idea how much it would save,” said Strain. “Since they had just created the position, I had hoped to at least save my salary.”

The policies worked so well, the Medical Center has created a division of Standardization and Logistics to work with all services on ordering and reorganizing storage areas.

“It is exciting to know that you are recognized by your peers and it is heart-felt,” she said of being named an outstanding employee.

“She has had a major influence in achieving high cost savings and in reducing inefficiencies throughout our supply chain,” said Jane Erwine, director of value analysis for the Medical Center.

Her system of supply standardization has been recognized as a “best practice” model among University Health System Consortium Hospitals across the country and has placed U.Va’s Medical Center in a national spotlight for implementing a successful program.

She also was praised for reducing needle stick injuries at the Medical Center, conducting regular fire drills and fire prevention programs, as well as improving the alarm system at Jordan Hall.

“She is seen as a leader in the effort to maintain a safe environment for patients, visitors and employees,” said Ronald A. Bouchard, chief administrative officer for the Health System administration.

— Matt Kelly


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