April 16, 2014
Annual Staff Awards
This year’s winners will be recognized at a reception on Monday, April 21.
The recipients of this year’s staff awards are being honored for their significant contributions to the University. The Witmer Award for Distinguished Service is presented to staff members whose careers have been characterized by outstanding and sustained contributions to the University. The Meliora Award recognizes staff members whose work performance and dedication during the preceding few years exemplify the University’s motto, Meliora. The Staff Community Service Award honors a nonmanagement staff member whose commitment best exemplifies service to the University and the Greater Rochester community.
Their names will also be inscribed on plaques that will be placed in the Medical Center and in Wallis Hall on the River Campus.
Nora Dimmock, Meliora Award
Nora Dimmock, director of the Digital Humanities Center, is praised for her role in developing the center as “a nexus for digital scholarship, in particular in the humanities” on the River Campus.
“Her work over the past year has been outstanding. Her contributions continued to be vast, leading to the advancement of research and teaching at the University of Rochester, and to external grant funding in support of research and teaching,” writes Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, in a nomination letter.
As the go-to person for faculty with digital projects or grant proposals in mind, Dimmock has supported the University community in areas of research, grant writing, and curriculum and program development. She has actively contributed to at least four major grant proposals during the past year. More extensive projects include the new Digital Media Studies program, Rettner Hall, and the Seward Family Project. Dimmock is frequently invited to speak at conferences and symposia in the area of digital scholarship. She recently received the University’s 2013 Messinger Libraries Recognition Award.
“A knowledgeable, enthusiastic, creative, and tireless expert on things digital and beyond, she has had a significant impact on the lives of numerous students and faculty across Arts, Sciences & Engineering and beyond,” writes Thomas DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary research, in a letter supporting Dimmock’s nomination.
David Long, Meliora Award
Colleagues say David Long, Lean performance improvement manager at Strong Memorial Hospital, is a natural leader who is vital to efforts aimed at improving patient care and increasing satisfaction among patients and staff.
“His ability to coach staff and find common themes within the complex process of emergency medicine is unparalleled,” writes Jason Morgan, nurse leader in the Department of Emergency Medicine, in a nomination letter. “This skill not only removes barriers but unites staff from various disciplines—ultimately building cohesiveness and a unified vision.”
Long was part of an effort called Rapid Intake to decrease the time patients wait in the emergency department waiting room for a provider. He has continued to help revise and refine the process in an effort to further improve the results. The department’s providers now consistently see at least 80 percent of patients—and often more—within 30 minutes of their arrival, compared to 40 percent prior to the new program.
In addition to his role with the emergency department, Long also supports other Lean teams throughout the organization.
“As with every project Dave participates in, he inspires motivation, enthusiasm, and a sense of confidence within a team that quickly translates to positive results,” writes Jackie Beckerman, senior director of patient experience and the Strong Commitment, in a letter supporting Long’s nomination.
Witmer Award for Distinguished Service
Shirley Brignall, Witmer Award
Since joining the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1954, on the day before her 19th birthday, Shirley Brignall has been an indispensible member of the department, colleagues say.
Brignall, administrative assistant to 10 different department chairs, has supervised a large number of clerical and secretarial staff members, organized numerous department events, and served as a repository of the department’s institutional memory.
“In all of these activities she has excelled and exceeded expectations and displayed fierce and unselfish loyalty to our department and University,” writes Dan Watson, chair of the department.
Brignall is often the first person colleagues seek out for advice and assistance. In addition to her extensive knowledge of the University and her numerous contacts in other departments and offices, she is a resource to many postdoctoral researchers and assistant professors coming from abroad, assisting them with visa and immigration needs, writes Arie Bodek, the George E. Pake Professor of Physics, in a letter supporting Brignall’s nomination.
“Enhancing the quality of work life in ways that make a significant difference for colleagues or constituents is what Shirley has been doing all these years,” Bodek writes.
Kelly Luther, Witmer Award
Kelly Luther is a natural leader who has a vision for strategic planning, her colleagues say.
Luther began working at the Medical Center 19 years ago in the outpatient medical clinic, where she provided social work services to some of the community’s most at-risk patients.
In 2010 she was named director of social work and patient and family services at Strong Memorial Hospital, a role in which she oversees social work, interpreter services, the communication center, chaplaincy services, hotel and lodging services, guest services/ambassadors, and home care liaisons.
Luther has been active in program development and enhancement, playing key roles in the development of the Virtual Care Center, the growth of the Hillside Scholarship Work Connection in the Ambassador Program, and the formation of the Comprehensive Care Coordination Center.
“Kelly wastes no time—or anyone else’s, for that matter—in taking ideas and transforming them into new processes,” reads her nomination letter from Peg Bierley, chief social worker; Marina Marchioli, administrative director; and Mardy Sander, chief social worker.
Michael Goonan, vice president and chief financial officer of the Medical Center, writes that Luther contributes to the University’s positive image in the community.
“Over the years, Kelly has built her reputation in the community as one that gets things done, is open to new ideas, and always has the University’s best interest in mind while putting systems in place to help guide patients and families through their health care journey.”
Suzanne O’Brien, Witmer Award
During her five decades as a University employee, Suzanne O’Brien has touched the lives of thousands of students, faculty, and staff.
O’Brien, a 1959 alumna of the University, has served as a secretary, an academic advisor, director of academic advising, coordinator of career services and placement, and associate dean of undergraduate studies. In 2009, she became associate dean of the College.
“As mentor, colleague, advisor, and teacher, Suzanne has had a far-reaching impact on our campus community,” writes Marcy Kraus, director of the College Center for Advising Services and dean of freshmen, in a letter supporting O’Brien’s nomination.
O’Brien was instrumental in the design and development of the Rochester Curriculum in the mid-1990s and has continued to manage the academic cluster program.
Throughout her career, the University has recognized her for her accomplishments. In 2003, O’Brien was awarded a Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning and, in 2007, received a Susan B. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award.
“The University of Rochester has benefitted from Suzanne O’Brien’s wisdom, clarity of thought, creativity, dedication, and sense of fairness for over 50 years,” writes Richard Feldman, dean of the College, in his nomination letter. “Over that time, she has shaped many of the student service offices in the College, she has mentored the many staff members who have worked with her, and she has improved the College experience for the thousands of students she has advised.”
Marjorie Searl, Witmer Award
Colleagues praise Marjorie Searl for her many varied contributions to the Rochester community and the Memorial Art Gallery.
Searl joined the gallery in 1987 as a curator of education, holding other positions as curator of American art and assistant director for curatorial affairs, before becoming chief curator in 2001. During that time she has forged many longstanding community connections.
Grant Holcomb, the Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director of the Memorial Art Gallery, in his nomination letter cites her role in significant temporary exhibitions and her contributions to the gallery’s permanent collection as examples of her “far-reaching museum and community leadership.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that the high-water mark of her career was the role she played in the creation and development of the gallery’s Centennial Sculpture Park,” Holcomb writes. The project—the largest in the gallery’s history—included the commissioning of four site-specific sculptures and the creation of new gardens and pathways. Searl played a key role in most, if not all, aspects of the park, Holcomb says.
In her role as chief curator, she also gave frequent lectures and public presentations and worked on many grants and publications. Searl retired from her position in December 2013.
“Among her greatest achievements—beyond her teaching, scholarship, and curatorial impact—is her exceptional leadership style,” writes Susan Dodge-Peter Daiss, the former McPherson Director of Education at the Memorial Art Gallery, in a letter supporting Searl’s nomination. “Leading by example, Margie has modeled the kindness, integrity, and respect that characterizes true collegiality.”
Staff Community Service Award
Kim Robinson, Staff Community Service Award
Kim Robinson, an HR assistant with Strong Staffing, started volunteering with the University’s Office of Human Resources Office of Organizational Development and Staff Diversity in 2012 and immediately became engaged with the office’s community partners—promoting children’s literacy, participating in the office’s interview boot-camp training for women seeking employment, and donating clothes from her own closet to women in need.
“Kim’s volunteer efforts, as well as her service to the community reflect an ongoing and outstanding commitment to education, employment, and health care, all of which are of key importance to the University of Rochester,” writes Janice Holland, a multicultural recruitment specialist with the Office of Organizational Development and Staff Diversity, in a nomination letter.
A committed volunteer and advocate for at-risk women and children, Robinson is a volunteer with Sojourner House at Pathstone, an organization that assists women and their families in reaching their goals concerning education, employment, family stability, sobriety, and financial independence.
“Kim has worked tirelessly to serve the women and children of Sojourner House, holding events for our families, donating food and clothing, contributing to our literacy program, and even offering job interview training for the women,” writes Mia Young, a development officer with Sojourner House. “She has done more for Sojourner House than we possibly could have asked for and continues to bring hope and pure happiness to the people she serves.”