College of Public Health and Health Professions employees Glenn Ashkanazi, Ph.D., Vera Hemphill, Margaret Odom Renner and Caronne Rush have been named UF Superior Accomplishment award winners in the Health Science Center division. They will be honored at an awards banquet March 2.
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.
Glenn Ashkanazi, Ph.D., is a clinical associate professor and medical/health area head in the department of clinical and health psychology. For more than 16 years he served as the director of the psychology clinic, which provides care to Gainesville community members and serves as the clinical training environment for the department’s doctoral students, interns and postdoctoral fellows.
“Dr. Ashkanazi maintains a level of professionalism, compassion and welcome sense of humor that creates a safe and productive environment to encourage students to develop their skills and self-confidence throughout the course of our doctoral training program,” a student wrote.
Under his leadership, the clinic achieved extraordinary levels of growth: patient visits nearly doubled over the past five years and revenues reached more than $2 million in 2016. He also developed new models of treatment to improve patient access and led the transition from a paper-based records system to an electronic system.
“Dr. Ashkanazi’s commitment to our department and students leads to many late nights in the office, thoughtful reflections about how to improve the well-being of our students, and a firm commitment to the provision of exceptional care to our patients, many of whom come to us with serious mental health issues and/or life-threatening illness,” a nominator said.
Vera Hemphill, a clinical service representative in the department of clinical and health psychology, handles multiple duties involved with front desk administration of the psychology clinic, including greeting patients, scheduling appointments, fielding phone calls, data entry, chart preparation and filing. She is also the clinic’s unofficial “go-to” person who almost always knows the answer to a question or how to fix a problem, colleagues said.
“I’m not sure how she does it, but somehow she manages to help us fix our issues, tackle a task for someone else and not miss a beat with her own work,” a co-worker wrote.
Colleagues praised Hemphill’s calm, warmth, efficiency, humor, generosity and compassion.
“Despite all that she juggles on a daily basis, Ms. Vera is truly a bright spot in my day; she is always pleasant and encouraging and sets an example for me to try to put my best face forward and to treat others with patience and kindness,” a colleague wrote. “I look up to and am grateful for Ms. Vera’s dedication to serving patients, to keeping an incredibly busy clinic running smoothly and to lifting up those around her with her kindness and encouragement.”
Margaret Odom Renner, an academic assistant II in the occupational therapy department, supports all aspects of the Master of Occupational Therapy program, from program inquiries to admissions to fieldwork and graduation certification. This includes, among other duties, organizing admissions data for more than 400 applicants and handling the logistics for nearly 300 fieldwork placements.
“She organizes all this with incredible accuracy, meeting or beating all deadlines,” a colleague wrote.
Over the past year Odom took on the responsibility of coordinating a large effort to research and review fieldwork management software programs to improve efficiency and productivity. Projects like these speak to Odom’s incredible commitment to students’ success, co-workers said.
“Ms. Odom is the first contact when a student has any type of question, and she welcomes all questions with a smile and an infectiously positive attitude,” wrote the MOT class of 2017 in a nomination letter. “Ms. Odom makes every student feel important, and she is more than willing to answer any and every question or concern that we may have. She is an invaluable asset to the department of occupational therapy, ensuring that things run as smoothly as possible for both the faculty and students.”
Caronne Rush is an academic coordinator and administrative assistant to the chair in the department of environmental and global health. She has taken a leading role in a number of initiatives that have improved department functions and communications, co-workers said. These include redesigning the graduate application review process; updating the department promotional materials; traveling with a group of One Health certificate students to Kenya and providing all administrative support for the trip; creating a “Monday Morning Minute” update email for employees and students; establishing an EGH student council; and planning several events designed to enhance the sense of community within the department.
“Ms. Rush has shown remarkable capacity to support our students, faculty and programs, and I feel lucky to have the level of support, creativity and people skills that she has provided for us in EGH and UF,” a colleague wrote.
Students applauded Rush’s efforts to support them in all aspects of their experience at UF.
“She is constantly searching for ways to make students feel valued and part of a greater community,” a student wrote. “Her caring spirit and the way she treats all members of the department like family have resulted in a more joyful experience for us all.”