Six College of Public Health and Health Professions employees have been named UF Superior Accomplishment award winners in the Health Science Center division. John Anderson, Kristen Cason, Stephanie McBride, Aaron McEnery, Tamara Millay and Brenda Wiens will be honored at an awards banquet March 28.
The award program recognizes employees who contribute outstanding service, efficiency and/or economy to the university, or play a role in the quality of life provided to students and employees. Health Science Center division winners are submitted as nominees to compete for the university-level Superior Accomplishment Awards.
John Anderson, a research coordinator in the department of environmental and global health, spent most of 2015 in Kisumu, Kenya, coordinating a large and complex research project. Richard Rheingans, Ph.D., an associate professor of environmental and global health, serves as principal investigator of the study, which aims to identify the socio-economic determinants of childhood exposure to diarrheal diseases in a peri-urban area in Kenya. Partners include the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Great Lakes University of Kisumu and Kenya Medical Research Institute/CDC.
Anderson faced numerous challenges in coordinating the study, including labor disputes, lost supply shipments, negotiating with community leaders and motivating a team to work under very difficult situations.
“Not only did he succeed in carrying out this extremely difficult project, he did it in a way that won the admiration of absolutely everyone around,” a nominator wrote. “He worked tirelessly, often working late into the night in the laboratory to keep things on track. He stepped in to sort through institutional conflicts that an accomplished mediator would be proud of.”
Kristen Cason is an academic assistant in the department of biostatistics in PHHP and the College of Medicine. In this role her duties include organizing and facilitating new student orientations and coordinating the department’s student application process from beginning to end.
Colleagues say she is adept at managing multiple requests at once and works continually to improve department processes and record keeping, as well as her own skills set. Co-workers also praised the way she interacts with students, many of whom are arriving at UF from other countries and are adapting to student life in the U.S.
“She interacts regularly with our students, and she does so with a really warm demeanor and with genuine concern for their wellbeing,” a co-worker wrote. “I can say that I’ve never seen her have a bad day at work. She is always upbeat and positive and solving problems to make our students’ experiences better.”
Stephanie McBride, an administrative assistant in the dean’s office, is responsible for coordinating multiple events for the college, such as the spring convocation ceremony and the PHHP family picnic.
McBride has also created several new programs that have increased morale and fostered teamwork across the college and with other Health Science Center colleges, co-workers said. These include a new employee orientation, the HPNP Field Day to raise money for UF’s Campaign for Charities and a healthy lifestyle challenge competition with the colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy.
Last year she managed a massive office and lab space move that affected more than 100 college faculty, staff and students in four buildings. To keep employees up-to-date on move plans and instructions, McBride sent out weekly emails and designed a webpage with detailed move information.
One nominator described McBride’s efforts with the move as a “beautiful, intricate and elegant piece of planning that could not have been performed better.”
Aaron McEnery, an IT expert in the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences, provides technical support for the department’s three distance learning programs, “but he does so much more in every aspect of our department,” a colleague wrote.
One example is McEnery’s efforts to facilitate last year’s office and lab move, which involved relocating half the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences from offices in Dauer Hall to the HPNP Complex. He took on many unassigned duties to ensure the department’s smooth transition to the new space.
McEnery is known for stepping in to support any education, service or research function in the department, whether it’s answering questions at a student recruitment fair, providing IT support for a conference or helping faculty members with computer issues.
One colleague described him as “an indispensable member of our department,” adding “it is hard to imagine how we would keep things running smoothly without his expertise.”
Tamara Millay is an administrative coordinator to Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of the department of epidemiology in PHHP and the College of Medicine, and PHHP’s associate dean for research. Millay’s duties include assisting Cottler with grant applications and paper submissions, but she does much more than her job description, colleagues said, using her expertise as a writer, editor and fact checker to help every member of the department with grant proposals, posters, presentations and journal articles.
“She makes you want to come to work and work harder to keep up with her,” a co-worker said.
Colleagues described Millay as dedicated, selfless, efficient, reliable and calm in stressful situations.
“She cares about both the people and the work and that resonates through the department,” a colleague wrote. “Everyone knows they can go to Tamara with a question and she will help them find a solution to the best of her ability.”
Brenda Wiens, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor in the department of clinical and health psychology, provides clinical service and training of psychology graduate students and interns. In the past year, however, Wiens’ efforts were particularly outstanding, colleagues said, as she took on extra duties following the sudden passing of faculty member Stephen Boggs, Ph.D.
Wiens took on research mentorship responsibilities for Boggs’ students, provided emotional support and advocacy for his mentees and increased her patient and supervisory load. In addition, she co-developed a new course in child therapy, collaborated with the Columbia County School District on a new grant to increase access to counseling and prevention services, and was offered a role as a co-investigator on a $4.5 million NIH-funded study of the effect of substance use on the developing brain.
“Dr. Wiens consistently demonstrates a willingness to go the extra mile, and then another mile, to help students, patients and colleagues,” a nominator wrote. “Her contributions to our department and the university over the past year have been extraordinary and in some ways heroic.”