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Award honors staff who exemplify Meliora

April 22, 2016

The Meliora Award recognizes staff members whose work performance and dedication during the preceding year exemplify the University’s motto, Meliora (“Ever Better”).

President and CEO Joel Seligman and Robert Witmer Jr., chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees, will present the Meliora Awards—as well the Witmer Award for Distinguished Service and Staff Community Service Award—at a reception in honor of the recipients on Wednesday, April 27.

Department of Public Safety

The Department of Public Safety team receiving the Meliora Award include: (from left) Deputy Chief Gerald Pickering, Commander Michael Epping, Investigator Lorraine Strem, Commander James Newell, Officer Tiffany Street, Officer Michael Fitzgerald, Commander Dana Perrin, and Chief Mark Fischer.

The Department of Public Safety team receiving the Meliora Award include: (from left) Deputy Chief Gerald Pickering, Commander Michael Epping, Investigator Lorraine Strem, Commander James Newell, Officer Tiffany Street, Officer Michael Fitzgerald, Commander Dana Perrin, and Chief Mark Fischer.

When two undergraduates were reported missing on December 5, the Department of Public Safety quickly mobilized for action.

Public Safety Chief Mark Fischer immediately initiated a team response, in collaboration with the Rochester Police Department, which resulted in the missing students being found and rescued the next day.

Public Safety was extensively involved in locating the pair. The team used social media, investigative intelligence, and other data to identify leads and interview those who might know something about the missing students.

As a result of the combined efforts of Public Safety and the RPD, a lead was confirmed that the students’ were located in a house in the city of Rochester. On the evening of December 6, the students were successfully rescued by a RPD SWAT Team.

The case of the missing students—who were kidnapped, tortured, and threatened with further violence—is “as extreme as [Chief Fischer] has seen in his extensive law enforcement experience,” writes Holly Crawford, the University’s vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer, in her nomination letter. She adds that the team’s response demonstrates “excellence in job performance; initiative; service to constituents; and contributions to an environment characterized by collaboration, cooperation, tolerance, and mutual respect.”

Team members include Fischer, Michael Cali, Michael Epping, Michael Fitzgerald, James Newell, Dana Perrin, Gerald Pickering, Tiffany Street, and Lorraine Strem.

“It is not overstating things to say that the lives of these two students were saved by the department’s attention to the situation and to their engagement and cooperation with the Rochester Police Department,” write Richard Feldman, dean of the College, and Matthew Burns, dean of students. “Public Safety, as the first responders to the report of our missing students, deserves the lion’s share of credit for avoiding what could have been a devastating outcome.”

Hajim School Undergraduate Academic Support

The Hajim School Undergraduate Academic Support team includes: (from left) Alvin Lomibao, Kelly Johnson, Nick Valentino, Lisa Norwood, and Rohan Palma.

The Hajim School Undergraduate Academic Support team includes: (from left) Alvin Lomibao, Kelly Johnson, Nick Valentino, Lisa Norwood, and Rohan Palma.

The Hajim School Undergraduate Academic Support team is being celebrated for its efforts to retain and support underrepresented students at the University.

Led by Lisa Norwood, assistant dean for undergraduate affairs at the Hajim School, the team has developed a four-step approach: identify that “at-risk” population early; enhance coordinated faculty and institutional support; increase peer support among high-achieving upperclassmen; and develop learning communities with “an ethos of active community engagement and academic collaboration.”

The team introduced the “STEM-Gems” initiative, which aims to foster the success of first generation, low-income, and minority students majoring in engineering and computer science. The STEM-Gem program shows students that “they are highly valued for their decision to pursue these most challenging but rewarding careers,” writes Rob Clark, dean of the Hajim School.

In addition to Norwood, the Academic Support team includes Nicholas Valentino, academic counselor and STEM-Gem coordinator; Kelly Johnson, academic counselor and advising coordinator; Rohan Palma, academic counselor and global initiatives coordinator; and Alvin Lomibao, assistant director of undergraduate programs

The project has proven to be successful. The total enrollment of underrepresented  minorities at the Hajim School has increased from 52 students in the fall of 2009 to 211 students in the fall of 2016.

“As a minority and first-generation college student, I knew very well at the start of my undergraduate career that I had a big challenge ahead of me,” writes STEM-Gem student Jenny Quintero ’16, in a letter supporting the group’s nomination. “But now that I am almost finished, I can honestly say that the STEM-Gem program significantly helped me reach and surpass my goals.”

Quintero will graduate in the spring with a BS in biomedical engineering and a minor in chemical engineering. She says she aspires to attend graduate school “with the vision to become a leading contributor to the nation’s health-care and biomedical innovation.”

Brian Martin, Wilmot Cancer Institute’s associate director for administration

Brian Martin

Brian Martin

In his almost 20 years guiding the growth of the Wilmot Cancer Institute, Brian Martin has seen remarkable change.

The institute has grown from two locations, at Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital, to 11 sites across Western New York in just the past four years.

Throughout the process, colleagues say Martin has kept his focus on the patients. When Wilmot acquired Pluta Cancer Center, Martin considered how the changes would affect billing and out-of-pocket-costs for patients, ensuring clear communication and arranging for staff to be on-site to answer questions.

“To every situation, Brian brings a calming presence and unassuming manner. His open style of communication and respect for diverse perspectives brings everyone into the conversation,” write Eva Benedict, CEO of Jones Memorial, and Amy Pollard, CEO of Noyes Memorial.

Martin is currently overseeing the creation of the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center, a regional hub for cancer care in Dansville that includes services at Jones Memorial Hospital and Noyes Health.

“What sets Brian apart from numerous other talented individuals at the University is his affable manner, absolute dedication, high level of professionalism, and inclusive style,” writes Jonathan Friedberg, director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute and the Samuel E. Durand Professor of Medicine, in his nomination letter. “In my 14-year tenure at the University, I can think of no better candidate who absolutely typifies the values of the Meliora Award.”

Orthopaedics PROMIS Team


Back row: John Costik, Chris Dasilva, and Allison McIntyre. Front row: Owen Papuga, Rachel Tomidy, Christine Arcara, Teaira Pittman, Judith Baumhauer, Mark Peterson

The Orthopaedics PROMIS Team is being honored for its efforts to develop and refine the process of obtaining patient-reported outcome measures in clinical orthopaedic practice. Patient input is a valuable tool for physicians in assessing the success or failure of treatment.

A collaboration of administrative, clinical care, and research staff, the team designed a plan to find the best way to collect patient-reported outcome measures while also providing a visual representation of the scores for the provider to see and share with the patient. The result was an 18-month process of experimentation, refinement, and education.

The initiative required collaboration among registration staff, clinical support technicians, nurses, and doctors. The PROMIS (Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System) initiative has become a part of the strategic plan for the Medical Center, with the goal of incorporating the program into all clinical-care outpatient departments and divisions within 18 months.

“The PROMIS team has slowly but surely transformed the way patients interact with their doctors and the way doctors view patient outcomes,” writes Vicky Hines, chief operating officer of the Medical Faculty Group. “The Department of Orthopaedics first implemented PROMIS in their own practice, and are now leading change for every other ambulatory practice of UR Medicine.”

The team helped the Wilmot Cancer Institute adopt the PROMIS model to help oncology patients “at the time of a difficult diagnosis and throughout their treatment course,” writes Elizabeth Guancial, assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology. “It is clear that the PROMIS team listened to the patients and staff involved in collecting the health assessments and developed a process that is user-friendly and minimizes clinic disruption.”

Team members include Christine Arcara, Tim Barber, Judith Baumhauer, Christopher Blankenberg, Katelyn Boldt, John Costik, Christopher DaSilva, Vladimir Javkovski, Kimberly Farr, Gary Kobel, Allison McIntyre, David Mitten, Catherine Muzytchuk, Kimberly Murphy, Owen Papuga, Mark Peterson, Teaira Pittman, Paul Rubery, and Rachel Tomidy.

“Taking the assessment was quick and easy,” wrote one patient who used the PROMIS system. “I have been blessed by my involvement in PROMIS. I’m hopeful others will have the same opportunity to receive such thorough medical care.”

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