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April 15, 2015

Outstanding staff members celebrated

  • 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.

The names of this year’s  recipients will be inscribed on plaques in the Medical Center and in Wallis Hall on the River Campus.

Witmer Award

Jacqueline (Jackie) Beckerman, senior director for the patient experience and the Strong Commitment

Jackie BeckermanJackie Beckerman is the driving force behind the success of the Patient and Family Centered Care initiative at UR Medicine, colleagues say.

Nominators cite numerous examples of her leadership, professionalism, and strong organizational skills throughout her 28-year career at the Medical Center.

“Many of the successes we now embrace are due to the tireless efforts of this exceptional leader and visionary,” write nominators Kathleen Miller, director of census management at the Medical Center, and Michael Leonard, associate chief quality officer.

With the University since 1987, Beckerman has worked as a service administrator with the Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology; director of alumni affairs for the School of Medicine and Dentistry; director of constituency relations; and director of service excellence for the Medical Center.

In her latest role as senior director for the Office of the Patient Experience and the Strong Commitment, she serves as a critical resource and spokesperson for staff, faculty, and leadership on the patient experience and patient and family centered care. Beckerman has spearheaded efforts to promote ICARE (Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence) values among staff for the treatment of patients and families She also oversees employee engagement activities and events to promote a culture in which employees feel highly valued.

“Jackie’s daily actions embody both the mission and the vision of UR Medicine,” writes Wendy Gelbard, associate professor of emergency medicine, in a letter supporting Beckerman’s nomination. “With her heart, soul, and actions, she personally improves the well-being of our patients by teaching us all to deliver compassionate patient- and family-centered care.”

Kathy GiardinaKathy Giardina, senior accountant with the Department of Biology

Kathy Giardina’s position requires her to manage complex budgetary matters within the department—including 30 research grants, faculty start-up accounts, capital equipment accounts, as well as departmental operating and teaching budgets.

She does it all “with the highest level of professional competence, integrity, and good-natured personal attention to every single individual she deals with,” writes John Jaenike, professor and chair of the Department of Biology, who nominated Giardina for the award.

Giardina has been with the department for more than 40 years and in her current role since 2007. She manages funding streams that support faculty research in the department and is lauded for her ability to ensure that the funds are being used appropriately and efficiently.

She continues to make notable contributions, Jaenike says, including the coordination of the budgetary side of a successful $12 million grant proposal from Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov—the largest grant ever received by the department.

Giardina has also put together a forward-looking teaching lab budget and identified a way to expand funding for undergraduate research.

Numerous faculty members applauded her professionalism, efficiency, patience, and kindness.

“She is valued by all for her abilities, her character, and for her unfathomable institutional knowledge acquired during 40 years of dedicated service,” says Daven Presgraves, professor of biology. “Kathy sets a standard of professionalism, dedication, and integrity that pervades the department’s administrative staff.”

Liz Lattimore Elizabeth (Liz) Lattimore, chief administrative officer for Golisano Children’s Hospital

Liz Lattimore has demonstrated an “unfailing commitment to children in our community” through the initiatives she has spearheaded during her 17 years of service to the University, writes Anne Swantz, associate director of the Sovie Center for Advanced Practice, who nominated Lattimore for the award.

Lattimore provides support for Golisano Children’s Hospital’s inpatient and outpatient business needs and services, financial management, and strategic planning.

She has been instrumental in expansion and renovation projects such as the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the Pediatric Treatment Center, the pediatric surgical suite and pediatric ambulatory space, and other hospital-based programs.

Lattimore is one of the key figures responsible for the planning and operational design of the new 247,000-square-foot Golisano Children’s Hospital, which is expected to open in July.

She has also collaborated with faculty and staff to create programs that serve the community. She was a lead supporter of Project Search, an initiative that created internships for students with developmental disabilities, among other community projects. A board member of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester Inc., Lattimore was also instrumental in the opening of the organization’s “House within the Hospital.”

“Liz’s dedication, work ethic, creativity, resourcefulness, and unique blend of a deep understanding of the business of academic medicine and an intense compassion for the children and families we serve have made her the most sought-after member of any team that has anything to do with child health,” writes Nina Schor, the William H. Eilinger Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, in a letter supporting Lattimore’s nomination.

Sally Roche, Rush Rhees Library building coordinator

Sally RocheWith 51 years of experience with River Campus Libraries, 20 of which she has served in her current role as library building coordinator, Sally Roche’s impact on the libraries runs deep.

It’s her job to ensure that library spaces are kept in fine condition and that they keep pace with the changing needs of student learning and faculty researchers—something that can be challenging at Rush Rhees Library, a building erected in 1930. Roche has overseen asbestos-abatement projects, improvements to wireless and computer connectivity, the cleanup of flooding and leaks, and other building projects that have succeeded because of strong relationships she has built with other University departments and with vendors. She recently championed the development a 10-year facilities and master plan for Rush Rhees Library and has provided essential information that will help bring the plan to fruition.

“It’s hard to fathom someone being as productive, impactful, dedicated, creative, and of a high standard of service such as Sally has demonstrated over 51 years,” writes Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, in a nomination letter.

Her commitment to students is unparalleled, say those who have worked with her. She has supported the Students’ Association $5K Challenge and the Walk for Study Space, where dozens of ideas emerged about upgrading study space in the River Campus Libraries.

“Throughout interactions with many other student leaders on campus, we know that Sally is dedicated, thorough, and proud of her job here at the University,” write Students’ Association President Antoinette Esce ’15 and Vice President David Stark ’16 in a letter supporting Roche’s nomination. “It’s rare to find someone with so much experience who still finds excitement in new ideas.”

Meliora Award

Lynn LevandowskiLynn Levandowski, administrator, Wilmot Cancer Institute

Lynn Levandowski is a leader who is a “tireless motivator.” She has gained the respect of her colleagues for being hard-working, approachable, fair, compassionate, and genuine.

As an administrator, Levandowski works with staff at the Wilmot Cancer Center, Highland Hospital’s Hematology Oncology Outpatient Unit, and the Pluta Cancer Center.

“Lynn’s vision and embracing of the Meliora motto have had a significant impact on shaping what the Wilmot Cancer Institute is today and what it is poised to be in the years to come,” write Jessica Reynolds, lead secretary and medical oncology coordinator at Pluta Cancer Center, and Jennifer Yaeger, office manager at Wilmot Cancer Institute and the Infusion Center at Highland Hospital, who nominated Levandowski for the award.

In addition to championing the implementation of eRecord, Levandowski is a Lean Expert Practitioner who has led numerous projects to improve efficiency among staff members, reduce financial waste, and improve communications among staff, patients, and families.

She makes patient care a priority in everything she does, colleagues say, and her work has led to an increase in the satisfaction levels of patients, their families, and staff members.

“Lynn’s level of dedication to the patients is at the core of her work ethic and how Lynn assumes and takes on any task,” writes Brian Martin, associate director for administration at Wilmot Cancer Institute. “She truly believes in what she does and is committed to making the patient experience better in any way possible.”

University History Book Team

group of seven people Telling the story of the University’s growth from a small undergraduate program to a leading research university over 150 years was a sizable undertaking. But the team behind Our Work Is But Begun: A History of the University of Rochester 1850–2005 was up for the challenge.

“Together, they have worked seamlessly and energetically, with an unwavering commitment to excellence over an extended period to write, edit, design, and produce the book,” writes Bill Murphy, vice president for University Communications, who nominated the team for the award.

Team members include Valerie Alhart, Stephen Dow, J. Adam Fenster, Phyllis Mangefrida, Melissa Mead, Michael Osadciw, and author Janice Bullard Pieterse.

Tracing 155 years of transformation at the University, the book’s meticulously researched narrative is supported with photos, profiles, and anecdotes highlighting academic and student life at Rochester. The team worked diligently to strike a balance between narrative and images—to bring people and events from the University’s history to life.

“Our Work Is But Begun is a much needed addition to the literature on the history of the University of Rochester,” writes Paul Burgett, vice president and senior advisor to the president, in a letter supporting the nomination. “Without Janice Pieterse’s excellent authorship, supported by the steady and brilliant work of the nominees, this successful outcome would not have been possible.”

The book was originally published last October and celebrated during Meliora Weekend. A second printing was recently completed.

group of peopleVISTA Collaboratory Project Team

Twenty-four video displays at 50-megapixel resolution combine to create a display that measures 20 feet wide and 8 feet tall—the 1,000-square-foot VISTA (Visualization-Innovation-Science-Techology-Application) Collaboratory creates an immersive experience for the visualization and analyzation of big data across many disciplines.

The 20-member team that brought the space to life in Carlson Library is being honored.

“The work that this team has done will assist in making the University of Rochester one of the leading institutions in computational and data science research over the next few years,” writes Brendan Mort, director of the Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC), who nominated the team.

Members include Amy Ariola, Doug Bentley, Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, Terrance Collins-Howard, Randall Cook, Michelle Crews, Kate Crowley, Liz Dombkowski, Diane Evans, Amit Fernandes, Greg Fuller, Bert Gartner, Dan Hance, Jon Hogrefe, Zahra Kamarei, Sara May, Michael Scott, Peter Schenck, Carl Schmidtmann, and Jason Wagner. Team members hail from University IT; CIRC; Purchasing; River Campus Libraries; Campus Planning, Design, and Construction; and the Office of the Vice President for IT.

“These people worked as one fluid, cohesive organization,” writes David Topham, the Marie Curran and Joseph Chamberlain Wilson Professor and vice provost and executive director of the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation. “Many demonstrated exceptional leadership and organizational skills and evinced competence and integrity, completing the work with no micromanaging needed.”

Staff Community Service Award

Catherine ThomasCatherine Thomas, director of volunteer services and community outreach at Wilmot Cancer Institute and interim associate director for the Department of Psychiatry

Catherine Thomas is a “relentless community volunteer” who fights on behalf of disenfranchised children living in poverty in Rochester.

Through the University’s Office of Organizational Development and Staff Diversity, Thomas has been involved since 2009 with the City of Rochester’s Pillars of Hope program, which provides mentorship to low-income children who struggle with reading and writing skills.

“She is always providing above and beyond agency requirements by recruiting others for assistance,” writes Janice Holland, a senior human resources representative with the Office of Organizational Development and Staff Diversity, in a nomination letter.

Thomas’s commitment to Rochester youth extends to service to several other organizations, such as Young Women’s College Prep charter school and the Black Women’s Leadership Forum.

Thomas currently serves on the development committee for Young Women’s College Prep; the Youth In Charge of Positive Thinking Board; and the Rochester Jewels, as advisor  to the board. LaShunda Leslie-Smith, president and CEO of Young Women’s College Prep, says Thomas has provided outstanding leadership and volunteerism to the school. She cites Thomas’s help in creating the school’s 100 Women to the 10th Power campaign to raise money for students to attend summer enrichment programs throughout the region. As a result, 10 students attended summer programs last year.

“She had decided not to sit idly by but instead to use her gifts to help young girls in Rochester get the education they deserve,” Leslie-Smith writes in a letter supporting Thomas’s nomination.

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