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Approximately 200 staff employees work at and support the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
Each month, a deserving staff member is recognized for their exemplary job performance. As part of the honor, the selected employee receives eight hours of annual leave, a personalized front-row parking spot at the college for the month, and a certificate of recognition from Dean Gerhardt Schurig.
Individuals are peer-nominated and may only receive the recognition once per academic year. Faculty, staff and students can nominate a staff member by sending a completed nomination form to Rebekah Woodyard.
To see winners from years prior to 2013, visit our archive of past winners →
Kira Cook was lauded for her strong work ethic and willingness to help others. Employed in the hospital since 2005, she manages scheduling for her staff and makes sure the barns and stalls are cleaned and adequately bedded per patient needs.
Her nominator wrote, “Kira does an excellent job of making sure biosecurity is closely followed by students, staff, and clinicians. If this was not enough for her to do, she also offers help to technicians with treatments, holding animals, helping set up for cases, or helping in an emergency if asked. When techs are busy, she will clean up for us so we can move on to the next procedure. Kira has never said no and I greatly appreciate her and feel she should be recognized.”
Jennifer Rudd has worked at the veterinary college since 2009. Her nominators noted that Jennifer has done an excellent job of single-handedly keeping the histopathology laboratory running after the retirement of Barb Wheeler. “She is solely responsible for preparing slides, special stains, and immuno-
histochemistry for clinical cases, VDACS laboratory system, and research,” remarked one nominator. “In addition, she has been instrumental in customizing and implementing a new Laboratory Information System for the entire diagnostic lab. She also serves as co-quality manager for the lab as we move towards accreditation by the AAVLD.”
While doing the work of two in the lab, Jennifer also works when needed in necropsy where she logs in cases, assists the pathologists, cleans, and submits samples to other sections and outside referral labs. “She performs these different roles efficiently and thoroughly, and is always helpful and pleasant,” a nominator wrote. “Her attitude through all of this increased demand has been exemplary, as has been her performance. She is an outstanding employee and most deserving of this award.”
Tony Huffman was recently reassigned from a technical position in the Large Animal Hospital to be the technician for the Equine Field Service (EFS) group. His nominator noted that, since that move, he has done an excellent job keeping the Equine Field Service trucks stocked, getting the appropriate equipment and supplies in the trucks for each clinician's daily appointments, keeping equipment clean and maintained, organizing the storage space, assisting in submission of laboratory samples, and assisting in patient care and management.
Huffman, who has worked on campus for 32 years and at the veterinary college for 28 years, also does a great job getting to know the students and helping them on the EFS and Large Animal Clinical Sciences rotations. “In addition to being an extremely capable and helpful technician, Tony comes to work each day with a great attitude. He is always willing to help find equipment, load a truck, or assist on a call,” wrote his nominator. “He has a smile and a friendly greeting each morning as we all come into work, which helps set a positive tone for the day for each of us!”
Part-time employee Sharon Dunn “wears many hats” in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, according to her nominator. She is the “go to” person to find information or get something done. Sharon has worked at the vet college for 17 years.
Her nominator noted, “I have never known her to say no to any project no matter how big or small. She happily assists anyone that needs assistance. The college is very fortunate to have such a dedicated employee.” Sharon is also known college-wide for her great sense of humor and fabulous cooking/catering skills.
Lynn Heffron has worked as a loyal and extremely valuable staff member of the vet college for 10 years and has been instrumental in the college’s virology research program. She not only manages the X.J. Meng lab, but also provides valuable assistance to other virology labs (Yuan, Subbiah, Roberts, and Bertke labs) at the Corporate Research Center - Integrated Life Sciences Building.
Her nominator wrote, “She is an extremely dedicated staff member who goes above and beyond to help postdoctoral associates and graduate students with their research projects. She is one of the most responsible individuals I have seen, and you can consider the job done once you ask Lynn to do something.” She has been assigned multiple tasks including managing the labs with procurement of reagents and supplies, assisting postdoc and graduate students with various technical skills and animal experiments, organizing biosafety and other research compliance-related training for the entire ISLB building and Vet Med Virology faculty, and even performing independent small research projects with minimal supervision.
Valerie Vaught was lauded as a “superb radiology tech, with knowledge of all imaging modalities.” She has worked at the vet college since 2006. Her nominator noted that Valerie had to learn (sometimes starting from scratch), as well as take over numerous extra job duties after the loss of another tech.
“During this time she has become the lead radiology tech in all imaging modalities, training new techs as they come in. She has been forced to take over numerous administrative duties, and is now the go-to person for any radiology question,” the nominator remarked. “She has done all of this with grace and professionalism. Our department is currently much better organized, more up-to-date, and far more efficient, thanks to Valerie. She is an exemplary employee, and we are very grateful to have her with us.
Missy Stillinger is celebrated as “one of the best anesthesia technicians we have in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital… who dedicates all of her effort every day to make sure our patients receive the best possible care and love.” She has worked for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital since 1997, beginning with a year of service in small animal specialty medicine, followed by 6 months with the intensive care unit, and the rest with the anesthesia service. Missy pursued advanced training and became a Veterinary Technician Specialist in the area of anesthesia in 2007.
“Missy continuously offers ideas for improvement and contributes extensively to enhance our daily operations; her efforts are well received and normally result in service improvements and productivity,” her nominator noted. “Her outstanding commitment to get our service ready for AAHA accreditation was remarkable. Her job performance is exemplary and after so many years of dedication, hard work, and improvement, we believe she has earned this recognition.”
Becky Jones has worked in the Research & Graduate Studies Office since 2007. Because of her hard work and continued efforts, she has become a valuable contributor to the Research and Graduate Studies team as well as the Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences Graduate Program. Her nominator wrote, “You could ask any one of the approximately 90 BMVS graduate students about her customer service and I am sure she would receive a top notch rating and thumbs up response.”
A reorganization of job descriptions also placed Becky in charge of the annual Research Symposium. She brought new life into the event, revamping the entire process from poster submissions and judging, to the award banquet location. In addition, Becky was selected to serve on the Equine Medical Center Director’s review committee and the Dean of the Graduate School’s review committee, both of which require a time and effort commitment that is above and beyond her routine duties.
For roughly 15 years, Gail Kibler has been the primary orchestrator of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Information System. Her responsibilities include decision-making and project management of the CGI/VISION system, management of bug reports and feature requests, data analysis and reporting, and general technical support of applications.
“Gail shoulders the responsibility for maintaining and developing a system with a large number of customers and critical business value,” her nominator noted. “She does an exemplary job of balancing customer needs (namely the various hospital business units), while keeping the overall best interest of the entire hospital information system in mind. Her behind-the-scenes work on making CGI and Vision useful tools on their way to becoming a full electronic medical record has typically gone unnoticed, and/or remains underappreciated.”
IT support technician Nate Tyler was singled out for his patience and help with various computer issues. His nominator recalled the excellent assistance Nate provided with a mail merge and PDF problem. “I had 3,000 letters that I needed to mail merge and convert to PDF format. When I would get halfway through the mail merge, my computer would lock up. Once Nate figured out what was happening, he fixed it,” the nominator wrote.
However, the troubles weren’t over. “As I started to PDF the letters with the Dean’s signature, my computer locked up again! I tried to fix the problem numerous times before I contacted Nate,” the nominator recalled. “At this point I was very frustrated with my computer. Nate was able to remote in onto my computer, saw the issue, and then was able to convert the letters to PDF on his computer in five minutes. Nate has always been so patient and pleasant when helping me…he really deserves recognition. He is my go to IT person!”
Licensed veterinary technician Dana Calicott was nominated for her role in providing free continuing education (CE) opportunities to college technical staff. A college employee since February 1987, she worked as a small animal ICU technician for 20 years, then transferred to TRACSS in May 2007.
Her nominator noted, “Dana took it upon herself to develop this great CE program. She schedules at least six guest speakers throughout the year on a wide range of topics so that the lectures are of interest to both large and small animal technicians. In addition she creates announcements and posts them throughout the hospital, emails staff, books the room for the lecture, and takes care of getting attendance certificates mailed to the participants. She really cares about the program and is dedicated to making it as great as possible and convenient for staff.”
Regina Sparks was lauded for “taking charge of her area and making sure all work is done.” A university employee since March 1999, she “makes sure the hospital is as clean as can be in her area, and also helps her co-workers to finish their job duties.”
Her nominator also wrote, “I see how much she takes pride in her job duties, her willingness to help people and the respect she shows for hospital patients.” Her positive attitude was also noted. “Ask anyone in the hospital about Regina, and they will tell you how hard she works and that she always has a smile for everyone.”