Quarterly I am an MUSC Innovator awards recognized

September 20, 2022
What looks like a lightbulb sits atop a small clear stand. It's outside sitting on a wooden structure with greenery in the background.
The I am an MUSC Innovator campaign is designed to raise awareness of the many forms innovation can take. Photo by Reece Funderburk

The MUSC Office of Innovation is proud to recognize Christy Huggins and Casey O’Neill, Ph.D., as the September 2022 recipients of the I am an MUSC Innovator awards. Sponsored by the Office of Innovation, the I am an MUSC Innovator campaign is designed to raise awareness of the many forms that innovation can take, to inspire others and to recognize individuals or teams that are making impacts, publicly.

Huggins and O’Neill represent the Center for Academic Excellence and Writing Center. Huggins, an administrative coordinator, has been with MUSC since 1989. O’Neill, an assistant professor, has been with MUSC since 2015. 

The innovative duo tackled an online pain-point brought about as a result of the campus being shut down in March of 2020, due to the pandemic, and created a remote supplemental instruction system. With about 400 students enrolled in Supplemental Instruction, MUSC’s small-group tutoring program, for their courses and about 150 student tutors who are trained and paid to lead these small group learning sessions, the two needed to figure out a way to move their in-person sessions online and fast. 

“Prior to March 2020, nearly every tutoring session was held in person, and student tutors would submit their timecards and session reports to us in person,” said O’Neill. “Within the span of one week, Christy and I had to transform the entire meeting and payment process into a virtual experience. I searched educational literature to rebuild the tutor training to include best practices for virtual teaching and learning.” 

After doing so, O’Neill informed the students enrolled in small groups that their sessions would be moved online and worked to ensure everyone could access and use the virtual meeting platform used by MUSC. The next step was to reach out to accounting partners and design an entirely new workflow for the hiring and payment processes that involve students submitting their tutor applications and timecards/session documentation through MUSC’s Box platform. 

Currently, supplemental instruction is now larger than ever, giving students the options of tutoring through an online process (Teams/Zoom) or in person. The program used to serve an average of 300 to 400 students each semester and typically hired between 120 and 150 peer tutors to lead sessions. Now, they regularly receive over 800 requests for peer tutoring from MUSC students and hire and train more than 200 peer tutors each semester.

“We appreciate the support of our director, Tom Smith,” said the two. “Without his help and advocacy, this program would have failed to be able to handle the increase in student demand. We also appreciate our colleagues Nell Piedmont and Kathleen Williams in Accounts Payable, Tonia Brown in Human Resources and Rhonda Walters in Education Innovation and Student Life for all of their dedication and help in making this enormous undertaking a huge success.”

Each quarter, the campaign showcases educators, researchers, care team members and service team members enterprisewide who have been nominated for the impact they have made in the area of innovation.

Nominations are solicited by and submitted to the chief innovation officer and evaluated based on the merits of the innovation, including potential impact and unique factors that contributed to the innovation. Nominations are solicited on a quarterly basis but may be submitted for consideration at any time.

Do you know someone who should be recognized? Fill out and submit a nomination form.

Award criteria

To be eligible for the I am an MUSC Innovator campaign, the individual or team must be:
•Employed by MUSC or attend MUSC as a student.
•Acknowledged within the organization for the creation of an idea, product or process that can solve a problem or create a new opportunity.
•Recognized as collaborative, respectful, adaptive to change and committed to quality care.