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Duke's 2023-24 Presidential Award Winners Honored for Embodying Duke’s Values

Seven individuals and four teams will be recognized at a ceremony on March 7 in Page Auditorium

January 22, 2024 | By Stephen Schramm 
Originally published by Duke Today


Whether their contributions came in the form of decades of dedicated service, expanding the horizons of the institution, or responding to daunting challenges, the 2023-24 winners of Duke’s Presidential Awards all share a common commitment to excellence.

The seven individuals, including one honored posthumously, and four teams earning one of Duke’s highest staff and faculty honors were selected from nominations from across the university and health system.

The honorees’ contributions will be recognized at a ceremony at 4 p.m. March 7 in Page Auditorium. A reception will follow at 5 p.m. at Penn Pavilion. The Duke community is invited to attend.

Organized by the Office of the President in partnership with Duke Human Resources, the awards recognize teams and individuals who exemplify Duke’s core values of respect, trust, inclusion, discovery and excellence.

“I am very pleased to recognize this year’s exceptional Presidential Award honorees for their truly outstanding work in service to the university’s mission,” said Duke University President Vincent E. Price. “These awards are especially resonant in our Centennial year, as we celebrate the people who have made Duke University’s first 100 years possible, and the people who will shape our next 100 years. I am also grateful to the members of the Presidential Awards Committee for their excellent work in support of this year’s selection process.”

Meet the 2023-24 Presidential Award winners.

Teams

Duke Caregiver Community Event

When the COVID-19 pandemic left those caring for loved ones, or working as full-time caregivers, feeling especially isolated, the Duke Caregiver Community Event was created as a way to enhance knowledge and show support for those handling a challenging job.

What started as a virtual event in 2021 has now grown into a daylong in-person experience which has touched more than 5,200 caregivers and provides programming in English and Spanish. The 2023 edition, which featured educational workshops on self-care and other topics, flu vaccinations, and opportunities to visit with clinicians and learn about helpful resources, drew 507 family caregivers and 91 professionals.

The team of event organizers has 18 members drawn from Duke University Health SystemDuke HomeCare and Hospice, Duke Health Marketing & Communications, the Duke University School of Nursing, the Duke Population Health Management Office, the Duke Dementia Family Support Program and Duke Palliative Care.

“Having partaken in the event and being a caregiver myself, I can vouch for its critical role in empowering caregivers with the tools, knowledge and support they require,” said Dan Bruno, Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer for Duke Health Technology Solutions. “Comprehensive caregiver support elevates not only their well-being, but also the quality of care dispensed to their loved ones and others for whom they care.”

Bass Connections

Since 2013, the Bass Connections program has given Duke students, faculty and staff the opportunity to collaborate across disciplines on research projects addressing complex societal problems. By giving students a chance to connect the classroom to the wider world through year-long project teams and intensive summer programs, Bass Connections has become a national leader in research-focused experiential learning.

In its first decade, more than 5,500 Duke community members and nearly 600 external partners have been part of Bass Connections projects. The research created through the program has yielded more than $70 million in post-team awards and almost 200 identified scholarly publications.

The 17 staff and faculty members on the Bass Connections team come from the Office of the Provost, the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, the Rhodes Information InitiativeDuke Global Health Institute, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the Social Science Research Institute.

“The Bass Connections team has created a stunning program for students and faculty that greatly enriches the entire Duke community,” said Vinik Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering Jerome Lynch. “The impact of the program is that it has so greatly enriched the Duke student experience offering hands-on projects often working with real world clients on compelling problems that matter.”

Steam Busters

On May 31, 2023, a broken pipe in the Duke University Hospital’s HVAC system rendered all of Duke North’s operating rooms, and most of the supplies in them, unusable due to a rapid rise in heat and humidity.

After the broken pipe was fixed, team members from several units formulated a plan to remove compromised supplies, reschedule the over 100 scheduled surgeries for that day and quickly get the operating rooms functioning safely again. Teams cleaned the operating rooms while roughly 4,000 trays and 2,500 packs of instruments were sterilized. Over 500 bags of supplies were removed while more than 17,000 orders for new supplies were placed and began arriving within hours.

Due to the hard work and coordination of hundreds of team members from Duke University Hospital’s Perioperative Services, Sterile Processing, Supply Chain, Engineering & Operations, Environmental Services and Administrative units, Duke North’s surgical operations were ready to resume just four days after the broken pipe was discovered. Twenty-one team members will accept the award on behalf of the hundreds who took part in the effort.

“Looking back on the 96 hours, everyone will remember this for the remainder of their careers,” said Dr. Allan D. Kirk, David C. Sabiston Jr. Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery. “Everyone worked together round the clock to ensure we could safely care for patients on Monday morning. All elective cases proceeded on Monday, no emergency cases were missed, and every patient received their needed care.”

Duke University Health System Infection Prevention and Epidemiology

In January 2020, before the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic truly reached Duke, the members of Duke University Health System’s Infection Prevention and Epidemiology Team began preparing caregivers for what was to come. As the threat materialized, the team worked to stockpile and test personal protective equipment and develop safety protocols for patient care.

Once the pandemic arrived, and in the years that followed, the team found solutions for supply chain issues and shortages while helping Duke’s safety protocols and policies evolve along with the threat.

The tireless work of the 31 members of the team kept patients and caregivers safe while establishing Duke as a leader in infection prevention and control.

“Not once in over three years have I heard a member of this team say, ‘That’s not my job,” said Dr. Kristen Said, Assistant Director of Duke Employee Occupational Health and Wellness. “Often, infection prevention is a thankless job that occurs in the background. Because of the excellence, dedication and compassion embodied by this team, they have been fully integrated in to their work areas. Trust is earned, and this team continues to earn it on a daily basis. They perform their duties with dedication and pride, even when it comes at personal expense.”

Individuals

Harvey J. Cohen

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Dr. Harvey J. Cohen
Dr. Harvey J. Cohen

In more than a half century at Duke, Dr. Harvey J. Cohen, the Walter Kempner Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Director Emeritus of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, has established himself as a pioneer in geriatric medicine and geriatric oncology. In 56 years in the medical field, he has written 17 books on geriatrics and geriatric oncology, contributed to 452 peer-reviewed research articles and 90 chapters of medical literature.

He has excelled as a mentor, researcher and leader, serving as Chair of the Department of Medicine, as president of national and international professional societies, and founding the Durham VA Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center.

“After more than half a century, it is impossible to imagine Duke without Dr. Harvey Cohen; he is part of our foundation and embodies our character,” said nominators Dr. Heather Whitson, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Aging, and Dr. Cathleen Colón-Emeric, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Geriatrics.

Thomas B. Whiteside

As a Senior Production Technician with Duke Technical Services, it’s Thomas B. Whiteside’s job to make sure conferences, seminars, athletics events and performances look and sound like they should. And as the longtime audio engineer for events at Duke University Chapel, he ensures the music performed there is as majestic as the space.

Whiteside, who has worked at Duke for more than three decades, also has a passion for film history. His love of local and regional film history led to him helping Duke University Libraries procure, research and restore the film collection of H. Lee Waters, who documented life in the Depression-era South. And as an artist and scholar, he teaches a class in silent film history in Cinematic Arts, a program in the Art, Art History and Visual Studies Department, and often serves as a mentor for students in Duke's Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts program.

“He’s got an artist’s passion for high-quality work and an older soul’s appreciation for humanizing whatever he’s presenting,” said nominator Selden Smith, Manager of Duke Technical Services. “His well-earned technical skills make university events better throughout this campus, while his ability to communicate comfortably with everyone helps put clients and audiences at ease.”

Natalie Hartman

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Natalie Hartman
Natalie Hartman

For 33 years, Natalie Hartman, the Associate Director for Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) has been a driving force behind the center’s scholarship and outreach opportunities.

As an administrator, she oversees the budgets for CLACS and the Duke Brazil Initiative while also collaborating on grant writing efforts which, over the years, have brought millions of dollars to Duke to support student and faculty research and travel.

She also has a deep interest in Latin America, making her a regular attendee at CLACS events she often helps organize and an ardent supporter of the work of the center’s students, faculty and visiting scholars and artists.

“Besides being incredibly organized, efficient and detail-oriented in her work, Natalie demonstrates genuine kindness, attention and care for everyone she works with, from the most senior faculty members to first-year graduate students, advocating equally for everyone regardless of status or time at Duke,” said nominators Katya Wesolowski, Lecturing Fellow with Cultural Anthropology, and John D. French, Professor of History.

Jane K. Pike

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Jane Pike
Jane Pike

In her 32 years with Duke Health Access Services and the Patient Revenue Management Organization, Jane Pike, Director of Support Services, has built a reputation for building and mobilizing strong teams and rising to complex challenges.

She has earned the respect of her colleagues for spearheading patient access enhancements which often involve multiple service lines and departments within the Duke University School of Medicine. In 2023, she led an effort which improved self-scheduling and lab scheduling workflows. The initiative beat its goal of getting 8% of Duke Health appointments made via self-scheduling and the success will result in more than $750,000 in savings for Duke University Health System.

“Her commitment to excellence fosters trust with her colleagues, team and providers that is anchored in deep respect,” said Elizabeth Howe, Duke Health Integrated Practice Director of Performance Excellence. “She inspires others to continue improving and learning, as her push for excellence is contagious.”

Pamela C. King

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Pamela C. King
Pamela C. King

Since joining the staff of the Social Science Research Institute’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) and Center on Genomics, Race, Identity, Difference (GRID) in 2019, Pamela King has become an invaluable piece of both teams. As the Associate Director of Operations and Administration, King adeptly handles details relating to finances and grant funding and coordinates the logistics for meetings and events.

In addition to fostering warm relationships with the students, staff and faculty she works alongside, with a quarter century of experience in administrative roles across Duke University and Duke University Health System, King enjoys a wide network of friends and collaborators.

“This past year has been full of opportunities and challenges for the team, including personnel turnover, hybrid work arrangements, multiple in-person events, launching a new website and large grant submissions,” said Lorrie Schmid, Social Science Research Institute Data Management and Analysis Lead. “Pam has been integral in having all of these successfully completed. She not only directs the completion of specific tasks but makes sure that we all complete what we need to do in a timely fashion. All of this is done with generosity of spirit, focused on a high level of excellence and with positivity and humor.”

Atalaysha Churchwell

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Dr. Atalaysha Churchwell
Dr. Atalaysha Churchwell

Through her work with Northern Piedmont Community Care and now in her role as Director of Population Health for the Duke Population Health Management Office, Dr. Atalaysha Churchwell has long been a leader in the effort to improve the health and well-being of the Triangle’s most vulnerable populations.

For more than a decade, she has led case management programs which reach into area communities to provide help for children and families dealing with mental illness.

She recently led the development of the Depression Collaborative Care Management program, which supports adolescents and adults with depression, and the Duke Advanced Medical Home Plus program, which brings high-quality case management into primary care clinics to help children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities or serious mental illness.

“Each step of the way, Dr. Churchwell has been guided by the desire to build a respectful and trustworthy team that works well together and treats our patients with these values,” said nominator Dr. Gary Maslow, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “She is a unique leader who takes on new challenges, always with the goal of improving the care of our shared patients. Every time an issue or challenge arises, she asks ‘What is best for our patients?’”

Craig Henriquez (Posthumous) 

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Craig Henriquez
Craig Henriquez

When Craig Henriquez, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, died in August 2023, Duke lost one of its most passionate champions.

A Duke graduate, Henriquez spent 35 years on the faculty of the Pratt School of Engineering. His research explored cardiac electrophysiology and helped greatly expand the understanding of the neurological signals driving heart function. His passion for teaching resulted in several new curriculum programs, netted him multiple teaching honors and won him the admiration of generations of students.

His belief in his fellow faculty members and the wider university led him to serve on the Academic Council, assume the role of Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and spearhead programs aimed at developing young and diverse faculty leaders and helping others begin the transition into emerita status.

“During his more than four decades at Duke as a student, faculty and leader, Craig was a model of excellence in teaching and research and an exceptional colleague and friend,” read the nomination letter penned by eight members of the Duke Faculty Advancement team. “He was a true example of living one’s values through service and demonstrated a deep commitment to making Duke a world class institution that welcomes individuals of all backgrounds. Craig was a true citizen of the university who deeply loved Duke and dedicated his time to serve the community in many different ways.”

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