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Faculty, Staff Honored with Presidential Awards

Employees recognized for outstanding service to Duke

Winners of the Presidential and Meritorious awards pose with Duke President Richard H. Brodhead during a ceremony to honor the recipients. Photo by Duke Photography.
Winners of the Presidential and Meritorious awards pose with Duke President Richard H. Brodhead during a ceremony to honor the recipients. Photo by Duke Photography.

This week, President Richard H. Brodhead honored five Duke employees with the Presidential Award for outstanding service in 2013.

A Presidential Award is one of the highest honors given to Duke faculty and staff and recognizes employees from five work categories who have made distinctive contributions to the university or health system.

During an awards ceremony Wednesday at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, Brodhead highlighted each recipient, noting their contribution to Duke through service to students, patients and their colleagues. He said they represent the kind of exceptional work ethic and enthusiasm that others should strive toward.

"In each of these categories, one person was chosen by the winners from last year to receive the very highest honor," Brodhead said. "These are people who receive presidential awards. They represent the kind of devoted work that allows Duke to be such a special place."

In addition to the five Presidential Award winners, Brodhead recognized 12 Meritorious Service Award winners. Presidential Award winners receive a Presidential Award Medallion and check for $1,000. Meritorious Award winners receive a plaque and $100.

Here are this year's Presidential Award winners:

Candy Durant, supervisor, Duke Eye Center sterile processing

Thanks to an effort to bar code and catalog all surgical instruments used for specific surgical cases, Candy Durant and her team within sterile processing helped the Duke Eye Center create a safer atmosphere for doctors and patients. The change now minimizes risk for contamination.

"We recently encountered a potentially serious situation that required immediate resolution," said Gail Harris, nurse manager of operations for the Eye Center operating room. "Because of Candy's thoroughness and firm commitment to a newly implemented instrumentation tracking procedure, the instrumentation in question was immediately identified and isolated. This one instance would have impacted over 30 instrument trays was only avoided due to Candy's hard work in both the initiation and follow-through of the project."

Stan Paskoff, data processing specialist, Sanford School of Public Policy

Within the Sanford School of Public Policy, Stan Paskoff has become known as a fast-moving problem solver. He has overseen technology initiatives within the school and is lauded for his customer service and ability to handle a variety of challenges, from transferring sensitive data to synching computer systems.

His coworkers note a positive involvement as chair of the schools Internal Communications Committee, for which Paskoff helps plan events, support faculty and extend outreach into the Durham community.

"People in the school feel cared for, and Stan is one of the primary reasons," said Kelly Brownell, dean of Sanford.

James Roberts, executive vice provost of finance and administration, Office of the Provost

As Duke nears completion of Duke Kunshan University (DKU), James Roberts has played a pivotal role in the process of bringing the campus from theoretical to operational. Roberts acted as chief budget officer for the project, developing budgets, overseeing expenditures and presenting to faculty and Duke's Board of Trustees. He also helped gain approval from Chinese agencies for DKU's tuition model, serves as one of three DKU Board of Trustees members and has made multiple trips to China to advance Duke's work.

"By his example, he has inspired all who work with him to the highest quality of performance, whatever the additional responsibilities beyond their normal duties," said Provost Peter Lange. "His efforts and achievements have been, and will continue for some time to be, therefore, a critical component to attaining success for what is one of Duke's most important and formidable and strategic initiatives of recent decades."

Stuart Wells, administrative assistant, Office of News and Communications

Every morning, Stuart Wells wades through dozens or hundreds of stories and broadcasts about Duke, ranging from scientific discoveries to features about students. From that list, he selects up to 10 stories of the day, writes of summaries of each and shares this news with Duke leaders. His work also provides content for the Duke Today website.

In addition to his recap of news for the Office of News and Communications, Wells manages daily distribution of press releases, employing a database of media contacts and tailoring his communications to the specific needs of each journalist.

"Stu is absolutely critical to the success of our office," said Keith Lawrence, director of media relations for the Office of News and Communications. "As our name suggests, we're in the business of communication, and Stu, as much as anybody else in the organization, provides both the voice with which we speak and the eyes and ears with which we sense how we're being received."

Philip Wright, computer project manager, Undergraduate Admissions

In 2014, Philip Wright will process more than 33,000 applications and about 300,000 electronic documents for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. That volume is made easier by software written by Wright and procedures that match incoming documents with their correct student application. Because of Wright's work, Admissions is able to load all applications within 24 hours of submittal.

"We've received a record number of applications this year, including 25 percent more Early Decision applications, and will not miss either one of our notification deadlines in large part because of Philip's work," said Christoph Guttentag, dean of Undergraduate Admissions.