President celebrates first Values in Action

December 16, 2016
Values in Action 2016 Recipients
MUSC president Dr. David Cole, far right, and his wife Kathy, far left, pose with winners of the 2016 Values in Action awards: Rhonda D. Walters, from left, Dr. Suparna Qanungo, Robin C. Smith, Dr. Mary-Ann McCrackin and Michael Caputo. Photo by Anne Thompson.

MUSC President David Cole, M.D., FACS, presented the Values in Action awards at a luncheon in Colcock Hall Nov. 21. The newly instituted awards, conceptualized by Cole, are intended to recognize five MUSC faculty or staff for their compassion, innovation, collaboration, respect or integrity: values, he said, that are crucial if MUSC is to succeed in “leading health innovation for the lives we touch."

“It is my firm belief that MUSC needs to be a values-based organization, to have a common basis to define what we represent and how we move forward,” Cole continued. “So, I think it’s important to recognize those values and the individuals that reflect them across campus.”

Business and Human Resources manager Rhonda Walters won for the value of compassion. She was nominated by Student Services coordinator Jenny Damewood, who said, “I have been very fortunate to have Rhonda as a mentor and so grateful to be under her wing. She brightens up the room the moment she walks in.”

Damewood explained that as a breast-feeding mother, she needed to take pump breaks at work, which made her feel guilty. But, Walters supported her and went above and beyond to accommodate her schedule.

“One day, Rhonda showed up at my door with a mini refrigerator that she wheeled all the way from her own office in the Vince Mosely Building to me on the fourth floor of the Harper Student Center. She wanted me to have it so that I didn’t have to put my breast milk in the shared office refrigerator or walk back and forth to it several times a day. That was the Friday before Mother’s Day, and that was the best Mother’s Day gift I received.

“I was astounded that she went out of her way to donate her own refrigerator to me,” Damewood continued, choking back tears. “She put time and energy and thought into this gesture, and she had nothing to gain from it. To have that level of compassion from a mentor toward a new employee is incredible, and to have that sort of breast-feeding support at work is absolutely priceless to me.”

Chief Information Officer Michael Caputo won for the value of innovation. He was nominated by OCIO communications program director Megan Fink.

“Mike has taken the president’s charge and is implementing measures to change his office’s culture,” she said. “In the short time that he has been with our organization, he has led and inspired our department to be more innovative than we ever imagined possible. An inventor himself, innovation is a passion of his, and he has provided his team of talented staff the time and tools to walk the walk and translate ideas into value.”

Fink said Caputo has launched OCIO innovation contests that have already resulted in several promising ideas.

“The ultimate goal is to have numerous inventions, with or without patents, that will benefit MUSC and the lives we touch,” she continued. “By empowering MUSC employees to be creative and innovative, Mike is a true leader.”

Assistant professor Suparna Qanungo, Ph.D., won for the value of collaboration. She was nominated by College of Nursing department chairwoman Julie Barroso, Ph.D., RN.

“It was with great pleasure I nominated Dr. Suparna Qanungo for the value of collaboration,” Barroso said. “Although Suparna has not yet been with the College of Nursing for a year, she is already an integral part of life here. She is enthusiastic and willingly takes on all challenges.”

Barroso served as faculty mentor for a doctoral-level advanced research design course that Qanungo taught this past semester. “Suparna engaged with her Ph.D. students as a collaborative partner to such a degree that they felt very comfortable with her,” she explained. “Many new teachers feel that they have to distance themselves from their students, but not Suparna. She plunged into the work of the course and was an equal collaborative partner with me as well.

“Suparna has been named as a co-investigator on many grants that have been submitted since she arrived, in large part because she is wonderful to work with. She always carries her weight on a collaborative assignment and can be counted on to do excellent work. People love to work with her because she has a great attitude.”

Barroso said Qanungo has played an important role in getting her students interested in global health, even leading a group of undergraduate nursing students on a trip to India. “She didn’t have to do this,” Barroso said. “It wasn’t part of her work assignment, but she saw a need and a way to get students excited about looking at the world around them. Suparna is committed to taking another group of nursing students back to India in the future. Suparna Qanguno embodies the value of collaboration in all of the forms it can take in our university.”

Grounds Department supervisor Robin Smith won for the value of respect. She was nominated by facilities maintenance director Julie Ham, who could not be present at the awards. Her nomination letter was read by chief facilities officer Greg Weigle.

“As the supervisor of our grounds team, Robin exemplifies what it means to promote teamwork,” he said. “She routinely thinks outside the box to find new and innovative ways to create an environment where her team members want to come to work each day.

“Whether it’s providing flowers for a special event or planting a memorial tree for a colleague, Robin is trusted by staff, students, patients, guests and faculty alike. There are few areas on campus that Robin has not touched through her work with our grounds program, from creating a beautiful water garden in front of the Drug Discovery Building to honor patent recipients to influencing patient care by creating Bela’s Rooftop Garden. Her work is evident everywhere you look. During the rollout of Imagine MUSC 2020, she collaborated with the steering committee to roll out several projects across campus, including a patient bell outside the North Tower, wind chimes in the Horseshoe and creative sculpture near the Urban Farm.

“She works daily to create a healing environment for our patients and a place of beauty for our staff and  students. She treats each and every member of her team as family, and she is a tremendous asset to our university.”

Finally, veterinary medical officer Mary-Ann McCrackin, Ph.D., won for the value of integrity. She was nominated by surgical research lab supervisor Roxanna Swagel, whose nomination was read by communications and special projects coordinator Courtney Wagoner.

“As supervisor of the division of live animal resources’ surgical research lab, I work directly for Dr. McKracken,” she said. “She has been the director for the past three years. I cannot think of a person who is a better embodiment of the qualities of this award. I see Dr. McKracken exhibit compassion, respect, innovation, collaboration and integrity daily.”

Wagoner continued, quoting Swagel’s letter: “During the past few years working with Dr. McKraken, I have been provided with countless examples of her integrity as a supervisor and a person. Her word is her bond. She puts in extra time and effort regularly to ensure she gives each situation her undivided attention. An example, her suggestions have allowed our medical records and billing communications to be updated to allow for more transparency. She strives to treat everyone fairly, no matter their position or circumstance, and she has created an environment where her employees feel comfortable approaching her with their suggestions or issues, because we know she will work with us until a solution is found. It has been my genuine pleasure to work under Dr. McKracken. She brings out the best in her employees and those around her, and she is highly deserving of this recognition.”

The president concluded the ceremony by thanking all of the award recipients and nominees. “It’s amazing what a small act can do and how much ripple effect there is,” he said. “Your normal activities on a daily basis have a huge impact on others.”

Other nominees of the Values in Action award included: Richard R. Anderson; Dr. Wendy E. Balliet; Monika F. Cardona;  Terrence O. Jennings; Dr. Diann M. Krywko; Dr. Paul R. Lambert; Dr. Lara Wine-Lee; Jennifer J. Nall; Royce R. Sampson; Cassaundra D. Tucker; Dr. Michael Ullian; the OCIO Diversity & Inclusion Committee (Linda McDaniel, Deepthi Meruva, Aparna Nagaraj, Wendy Normandt, Peter Plott, Vanna Ramaiah, Rob Williams); MUSC Health Integrated Transplant Team (Lisa Withington, Debbie Crawford, Ann Cunningham, Michelle Bonenfant, Debbie Jenkins, Lori Pomposeli); and Dr. Donna Kern, Dr. Vincent Pellegrini and the College of Medicine Education Team.