VCU’s 37th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation

you’d be seated, thank you. Well, welcome everybody. Good afternoon. So pleased to have you turn out
for this wonderful moment that every year we celebrate our most
distinguished faculty so it is quite an honor to be the MC
for this event and to introduce these amazing people to you,
many of whom you already know because you work alongside them
or perhaps you help them be as wonderful as they are because
you are their family and their friends and their supporters. So, thank you for coming out. I’m Marsha Rappley. I’m Senior Vice President of
Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System and it’s my
pleasure to be the MC because unfortunately, Dr. Hackett
cannot be with us today and she sends her congratulations
to everyone. And I would like to start by
introducing the members of the DS (ph) on the platform. So, as I call your names, if you
would all stand and then remain standing until we finish. Thank you. So, Michael Rao, President
of VCU and VCU Health System. Donald Young, Interim Dean,
College of Humanities and Sciences. Andrew Daire, Dean of Education. Peter Buckley, Dean of Medicine. Susan Parish, Dean of the
College of Health Professions. Nancy Scott, Acting
Dean, School of the Arts. Ed Grier, Dean of the
School of Business. Dave Sarrett, Dean of
the School of Dentistry. Susan Gooden,
Interim Dean, the L. Douglas Wilder School of
Government and Public Relations. Doug Boudinot, Dean of
the Graduate School. Barry Falk, Dean
of Honors College. Jean Giddens, Dean of
the School of Nursing. Cindy Kirkwood, Executive
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Pharmacy. Constance Relihan, Dean
of University College. Robert Tombes, Vice
Provost, VCU Life Sciences. And Barbara Boyan, Dean of
the College of Engineering. Thank you. Other members of on the DS will
be introduced as we move through the program. We’re also pleased to have
members of our VCU Board of Visitors and the VCU Health
Board of Directors here today. So, I would like to
ask them to stand. Will Ben Dendy and Lisa
Ellis please stand, two of our board members? Thank you for coming today. And we are also honored to have
with us today President Emeritus Gene Trani, if Gene,
if you would stand. Please stand, please. Thank you. We have members of the
VCU Faculty Senate also, so we would like our Faculty
Senate President, Nancy Jallo, and other Faculty Senate
members to stand please and be recognized. Thank you. And we would like all of our
past award recipients to stand and be recognized and thank you
all for your achievements and support today. So, now I would like to ask
our President, Dr. Michal Rao, to the stage.>>PRESIDENT MICHAEL
RAO: Than you, Marsha. Good afternoon. This is a really cool
time of the year. I love the opportunity to
welcome everyone back and I certainly enjoy welcoming our
students back and welcoming six thousand of our new students
who are undergraduates to VCU. They are very different than
a lot of the students who came before them and they bring
tremendous energy and passion and just a real love for
learning that you could feel when you talk with them. They are very excited about what
the world can become and they recognize that they will be a
really important part of that and for us as a faculty, it is
our real opportunity to be a part of helping them shape the
world and certainly help them through their educational
experiences and their research, their clinical experiences,
their studio experiences, help them define what really
they love and all of the ways in which they are going to
elevate what we call the human experience. So, I also want to say thank you
to our Vice Rector of the Board of Visitors, Ben Dendy, for
taking the time to be here. Lisa Ellis, you’re a perfect
representative today of the health system board and you
are of course a member of our faculty as well and we are
delighted that you’re here. So, this is a big year. It’s an interesting year because
it’s the first full year of this next cycle that we have
in our strategic plan. Our strategic plan now is called
Quest 2024 and it’s off to a great start. It’s off to a great start I
think partly because Quest for Distinction, which was our
original plan, did so well. And why did our plan do so well? Our plan really did well because
our students are really at the – and their success are really
at the center of that plan. And so much of that really
is because of our faculty. There is no question that we
could do – could not do what we do in terms of fulfilling this
mission without a faculty that is as uniquely committed and
dedicated to the success of our students as this faculty is and
I’m very, very proud of that. This is also – I see Meredith
sitting over here has done a great job of putting together
our One VCU master plan and that now kicks off. This is the first physical
year and sort of the physical manifestation of the strategic
vision that we have for the institution which is again, to
lift and raise as many lives as we possibly can. And it is also now the third
year of our Vision by Design which is our strategic plan
for our very important medical center, our health system. The health system is a critical
part of Virginia Commonwealth University. It’s one of the ways in which
we touch so many peoples’ lives. We certainly save many peoples’
lives every day and so, it’s also a way in which both
our strategic plans really sort of capture this sense of
the importance of access. We are a public good. We are proud of that. And it’s important that
we remain accessible. It is also important that we
remain committed to efficient and great, timely outcomes
for our students and for our patients and again, I know we
couldn’t do any of what I just described without all of you in
this room and certainly all of our colleagues who aren’t here. This year it is really
very interesting, I think a real reflection of the
world and the ways in which the world continues to move. I mentioned our six thousand new
ungraduated students and by the way, about two thousand other
new professional and graduate students joining us
in this fall term. But certainly, of
the undergraduates, about 57% now are minority and
I think that is a wonderful statement about the extent to
which VCU continues to be a destination for all human beings
who want to make the world a better place. It is actually our most diverse
class that we’ve ever had. And you know, together, our
faculty has just done an incredible job of helping shape
VCU into what Gale Hackett, our Provost, frequently refers
to as a 21st Century research university. We are really on that path. On the path to shaping a
research university into the kind of place that a lot of
research universities have had a hard time thinking about moving. Most institutions are very proud
of their resilience in higher education. We’re proud of the fact that we
are moving with people and I am very, very grateful that that is
inclusive of everyone and pretty much everywhere. Our research mission continues
to be very important to us because it is one of the ways in
which we touch so many peoples’ lives and we do a lot of
research that really is very difficult. We like to solve the
most difficult problems. I said that in a state of the
university address a few years ago and we remain very
committed to that. We will solve the most
perplexing problems that often disproportionately impact
the people who are the most disadvantaged because those
are often not the most popular things to do but they
are very, very important. We continue to be committed to
social mobility and we continue to be committed to social
justice and you will see that threaded through all of our
research and in the next few months after our deans and
our other faculty leadership continue to get together
to talk about the vision, a more focused
vision for research, you’ll see social justice
threaded throughout and ways in which we continue to raise the
human experience so that we can make it a stronger
experience for everyone, including those who may have
been excluded historically. I am very, very proud today that
we come together to recognize six of our colleagues. If we could, we would
recognize a whole lot more. I do want to say thank you
to all of our previous award recipients, those who have –
we have had the opportunity to recognize for your
great distinction. And whether it’s you or whether
it’s the new six that we recognize today, you really
inspire all of us and having been here so long now, one of
the things I really enjoy is pretty much knowing almost
everybody who is here on the stage and knowing what they do
and watching over the years, the ways in which they
contribute to other peoples’ lives in very,
very positive ways. I said to one of our
recipients today, actually it’s two of them, they
to me really represent sort of perfectly, everything I think of
when I think of VCU and part of what I think of VCU is what I
hear from so many of our alumni from whom I am now trying to
raise a lot of money and one of the things that they
say is, you know, they went to a different place
to get a master’s degree or they had gone some place else to get
a bachelor’s degree and then got their medical degree here or
whatever and they say you know, in hindsight, there was
really no place like VCU. And I said, what do
you mean by that? They said – almost all of them
say there is really just no one who cares about you
like the faculty at VCU. And so, we can really never do
enough to celebrate this faculty and to find six of you a year
who we can recognize and say you are among our most accomplished
is saying you’re not here; you are here. And I don’t want to stretch and
hurt myself but you know what I mean. That happens as you get older,
but in any case – or at least as I get older. But today, we have an
opportunity to really recognize our faculty colleagues who
have just tremendously diverse passions and experiences and one
really great thing in common. That is an unshakeable
commitment to the people who benefit from our mission and
our vision in all contexts, you know, teaching, research,
service, and of course, care. And all of the ways in which
we enhance peoples’ lives, whether it’s solving important
problems, perplexing problems, or just enhancing peoples’ lives
through our creativity and our innovation. I’m so proud of my faculty
colleagues and continue to find every way to we can to – I will
continue to find every way that I can to celebrate and
recognize the great work. Most importantly, I thank our
colleagues for being so selfless and so committed to a mission
that ultimately I think when you look back, you will realize the
number of lives you’ve touched and the ways in which you have
helped shape not just Richmond, not just the Commonwealth of
Virginia, but really the world. So, with that, let’s get onto
our program and I’m excited to learn a little bit more and to
show you a little bit more about our six great, distinguished
colleagues who we will recognize and celebrate today. Thank you all for being here.>>MARSHA RAPPLEY: Thank
you, President Rao. So, it is my pleasure now
to introduce Donald Young, our Interim Dean of the College
of Humanities and Sciences, and he will come forward and
announce the recipient of the 2019 University
Award of Excellence.>>DR. YOUNG: Thank
you, Dr. Rappley. It is my pleasure to present
this year’s University Award of Excellence to Dr. John Kneebone,
retired associate professor of history in the College of
Humanities and Sciences. Here’s a short video in which
Dr. Kneebone describes how engaging in the study of our
past supports our future and how VCU as an urban university
inspires collaboration, service and the
teaching of history.>>DR. JOHN T. KNEEBONE:
I have always really enjoyed studying history, making sense of the past and how
it affects us in the present. The more you know
about the past, the more complicated it becomes
and the more difficult it is to come up with a
glib, quick opinion. We’re constantly reassessing and
changing our estimates of what the past meant. Debating about the
meaning of history, interpreting it I think is
a very healthy thing for democracy. We have to figure out
ways of getting along. A deeper understanding of our
place makes it easier to have understanding for our neighbors
who may differ from us. VCU is an urban university. If you’re teaching
history in Richmond, you’ve got the city as a
supplemental textbook and we put a value on community service. That opens the way for
collaboration with other institutions. The best thing for me about
VCU is the multitude of collaborations.>>DR. YOUNG: We are proud of
Dr. Kneebone’s lifetime work and honor his many
achievements today. President Rao, will you please
escort Dr. Kneebone to the podium to accept the award?>>DR. JOHN T. KNEEBONE:
Okay, there I was, extoling collaborations for a video for an event
honoring individuals. It’s true; at the university,
we do work as individuals. We struggle to make
sense of ambiguous data, to find meaning in
experimental results, transform a pile of notes
into prose to solve a problem, to make words cohere
on a blank screen. But even then, we
never work alone. Take my field, history, where
the academic gold standard for tenure and promotion, for
reputation is the monograph, a single author scholarly book. Yet open up any of those
monographs and you’ll find an acknowledgement section
with well deserved thanks to archivists and librarians who
made the project possible for friends and scholars who provide
advice and criticism of the manuscript and then turn to the
back to the bibliography and to the end notes and to
all of those people, contemporaries and predecessors,
create the foundation that the monograph rests upon. And every monograph becomes part
of the foundation for future monographs. So, yes, we work as individuals
but we’re all part of a vast, invaluable, ongoing human
enterprise dedicated through scholarship, teaching, and
service to making the future. I’m fortunate to be able to
participate in that enterprise. I’m grateful to all of the
people with whom I have been able to collaborate, all of the
amazing students, my co-author, Dr. Trani, my history colleagues
at VCU and with the Library of Virginia. My colleagues, the Public
History Institutions Across the Region, and my colleagues
across the university. It has been a pleasure. Best of all, collaborations are
loving collaborations across time. Thanks to Dean of Libraries,
John Ulmschneider, for forty-five years of
friendship and being a role model for me. Thanks also to my dear brother,
Tim Kneeman (ph) who is here today with us from California,
and my sister Nancy Arias (ph) in Albuquerque, New Mexico who
is not here but promises to watch the live stream. I love you, Nancy. And most of all, my chief
collaborator and my spouse, Elizabeth Roderick. This summer on July 10th, the
baseball pitcher and author Jim Bouton, died at
the age of eighty. Fifty years ago, he published
a candid memoir entitled “Ball Four,” classic. And in the book, he said that he
chastised himself for going out on the field some days and
not feeling the excitement, not feeling the privilege
of being part of the game. As he put it, he was
forgetting the tingle. Now, we live in vexing times
with pessimism often seeming the best bet for the future. But I do believe the work
that we do here gives a hope. To borrow from the ending of
George Eliot’s Middlemarch, our un-historic acts here can
be incalculably diffusive. Proof is in the other honors
that are going on today. So, as we go out from this
convocation to our collaborative enterprises and individual work,
whether it be on the way to a laboratory, to a clinic, to
a classroom, to a meeting, to an office, don’t
forget the tingle. Thank you.>>MARSHA RAPPLEY: So, Dean
Young will now return to the podium and introduce the
recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Scholarship Award.>>DR. YOUNG: Thank you. It is my honor to present this
year’s Distinguished Scholarship Award to Dr. John Ryan,
professor in the Department of Biology in the College of
Humanities and Sciences and Associate Vice President for
Research Development in the Office of Research
and Innovation. Now, please join me in viewing
a short video in which Dr. Ryan shares how his work serves
as a piece of the puzzle that contributes to the improvement
of patient care and trains the next generation of scientists.>>DR. JOHN RYAN: When it
comes to things like asthma and arthritis that are driven
by the immune response, I like asking questions related
to how we control inflammation. While it’s true that the
patients that suffer these diseases and the hope for
treatment is very motivating, at a fundamental level, I
think all scientists just enjoy solving puzzles. All of us are contributing
pieces to a larger puzzle and it may not be our group that gets
the credit for some of these things but as long as we’re
contributing to the overall improvement of patient care,
then that is a big success. Everybody that has come here,
come through here, really, really values research. They have always helped
me when I’ve needed help. We have great colleagues. I mean, there is something like
three dozen institution centers here. You can pretty much always find
somebody who can help you answer a question. You’re training the next
generation of scientists and when you stop to think about
how many people that have come through VCU and trained here
and then they’re all over the country, all over the world
doing really neat things, you feel like wow, I contributed
to some small part of that to this huge ripple effect. That is really inspiring.>>DR. YOUNG: For his successful
leadership and excellence in scholarly activity, we are
pleased to honor Dr. Ryan today. President Rao, will you please
escort Dr. Ryan to the podium to accept the award?>>DR. JOHN RYAN: Thank you
all so much for this fantastic honor. It’s one of those capstone
achievements in a career you’ll never forget. I need to acknowledge a bunch
of people, the administration, especially my boss, Dr. Derek
Johnson sitting right here that nominated me. My wife Claudia is
in the front row. We have been together since we
were teenagers so she has seen the full-length motion picture,
including the lowlight. She has definitely
seen the low lights. All three of my kids, one who
squeaked into the back and was zipping here. They skipped classes all over
the state to be here today. Thank you. They are the kind of
people I aspire to be. My mom is here in
the second row. My parents had this fantastic
way of raising kids which is the one two punch of unconditional
love and high expectations, so do something important but
you better be nice while you’re doing it. It’s a great way
to raise people. I really need to acknowledge
the people who do the work. There are forty past
trainees in the lab. They have taken over
the middle row here. Some of them, the
current trainees. Lots of collaborators but number
one on that list is Mr. Brian Barnstein, also here today. He’s been with the lab seventeen
years and is the reason the work gets done. I had the fantastic good fortune
of wandering in here in 1988 and doing my PhD work
with Dr. Tom Huff. His wife is here in
the second row and many of you know Tom and you probably loved
him too and you know that he passed away unexpectedly,
broke my heart. But everything I do in my lab is
somehow connected to something that Tom taught me, everything. And so, I would not be –
certainly wouldn’t be the scientist I am. I wouldn’t even be the man I am
without having him in my life. And I get to do something
fantastically fun today because I am from Richmond. So, two of my high school
teachers – you all stand up real quick. Coach Bruce Bohen (ph)
and Ms. Pat Rawlison (ph). That’s right. Thank you. Thank you. Yes. So, Bruce Bohen who I only call
Coach was my cross country coach all through high school and my
homeroom teacher and senior year when I stress fractured my hip
the day that practice started, literally, my season was over
before it began and I learned the lesson that sometimes there
are no second chances and you should not assume that you’ll
always get to do something again. I wandered into Pat Rawlison’s
physics class in a total funk and learned two things. One, I should probably
stick to biology. Physics is not my subject. But two, I came across a person
who was so enthusiastic about science. It was completely infectious and
between learning persistence as a distance runner and
enthusiasm for science, it launched – it definitely – I
think back and I’m like that is what launched me
in this direction. So, I wanted to thank them
so much for being here. Thank you.>>MARSHA RAPPLEY: Our next
award is the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Young will return to the
podium to introduce this year’s recipient, his
college [00:24:59].>>DR. YOUNG: I should be
counting my steps today. Thank you. Thank you. It is my pleasure to present
this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award to
Dr. Karen Kester, Associate Professor in the
Department of Biology in the College of Humanities
and Sciences. Here’s a short video in which
Dr. Kester conveys her joy of teaching and the value
of experiential learning, especially through the
research of insects and nature.>>DR. KAREN KESTER: I really
find insects fascinating and so I enjoy sharing that
passion with other people. Most of the students who take
my entomology class either hate insects or are
afraid of insects, so I tell them I’m going to
change their view of the world. And when you get more
in touch with nature, then you want to
take care of nature. My research, I can see its
important applications. This genus of wasp that are
important biological control agents. I love my research but I love my
teaching and I love my students. The broader aspect of
teaching, of education, is to open someone’s mind
and to get them to see things differently. I like to jog them to get
back in touch with the joy of learning and not just taking
tests and making grades. Most people learn best hands on
by doing but here we have the opportunity to have the city. So, stuff that I have been
doing at a really small scale, now it’s a cool thing that
the whole university does. So, of course I love being here. It’s a good fit with my values
and my perspective of teaching and education.>>DR. YOUNG: For her
excellence in teaching, we are pleased to
honor Dr. Kester today. President Rao, will you please
escort Dr. Kester to the podium to accept the award?>>DR. KAREN KESTER: I’m
surprised at how emotional I am. I hate these things usually but
that is an indication of how meaningful this is to me. It is wonderful to be recognized
for doing what one loves. There is just no
better feeling, okay? I want to thank all of the
people who are involved in the nomination process. That includes a lot of
faculty members who gave time, awards committee
in my department, people who contributed
statements of support, people in the community. You can see some of the
pictures of some of the stuff. My students and I, we go out
and we share what we know about insects with the public. My Chair, Dr. Derek Johnson. The members of the
college committee. And former Dean Montse Fuentes. They were all involved in
the nomination process. And then I thank the wonderful
university peer committee that selected me. I was amazed. Also, but most importantly,
I want to thank the students because the students are the
ones who inspire me and everyone doesn’t understand but
teaching is a two-way process. It’s an interaction. You don’t just get up and say
things and how well you say things isn’t an indication of
how good a teacher you are. It’s the relationship, the
interaction you develop in the classroom and outside. And so, the students here,
I love VCU because of the students. That’s why I came here. That’s why I stayed here. There was a time I was
thinking about leaving. And it’s why I continue
to love to be here. So, I want to thank students. I want to thank – I have – I
was surprised to find that some prior faculty members and
friends are here and even some Bridges students are here. Thank you, Sara,
for inviting them. And so, I am just so delighted
and I want to end on the fact that when I was walking over
here from teaching entomology, I thought about something that
my little Italian grandmother told me and when I told her
yes, I was the second one in forty-two that – forty-two
first cousins, okay. I was the second one to go to
college and I told her, yeah. I’m going back and whatever. And she said, well, what
are you going to study? I said I’m going
to study insects. She said, bugs? You’re going to study bugs? Why don’t you do something
useful like teaching or nursing? And it turns out
you can do both, so. Thank you.>>MARSHA RAPPLEY:
So, Dr. Young, would you please return to the
podium and introduce this year’s recipient of the 2019
Distinguished Service Award.>>DR. YOUNG: Gladly. Thank you, Dr. Rappley. It is my honor to present this
year’s Distinguished Service Award to June Nicholson,
professor of journalism and director of graduate studies in
the Robertson School of Media and Culture. Now, please join me in viewing
a short video in which Professor Nicholson discusses her passion
for journalism and challenging her students to step outside
their comfort zone to learn about others.>>DR. JUNE NICHOLSON: I’ve had
a deep passion for journalism and its role in our
democracy and indeed, as an essential in
our civil society. We’re bombarded with so
many sources of information, kinds of information. Journalism is really about
helping the public understand complex issues. It’s a public good. VCU and the community
surrounding it reflects many of the issues that exist in urban
areas around the country and my students have covered all of
those things and so much more. I ask them to go out into the
community itself to get out of their comfort zones, to learn
and discover how other people live and what they think, to go
out and report on complex issues wherever they may land. I have tried to teach them about
the high standards of our field. Many of my students have gone
on to work as top reporters and editors at some of the best news
organizations in the USA and around the world.>>DR. YOUNG: Today, we are
proud to honor Professor Nicholson’s outstanding
accomplishments in service. President Rao, will you please
escort Professor Nicholson to the podium to accept this award?>>DR. JUNE NICHOLSON: We’v
been keeping Don very busy today. I don’t know if he’ll
get a break or not. But good afternoon,
faculty colleagues, fellow award recipients,
distinguished guests, members of the VCU community
and broader community. I am truly, deeply honored
by this distinguished faculty award. As you can tell, all of us who
are award recipients today are very passionate
about our fields. My career path became concrete
when I was a student at UNC Chapel Hill in the era of the
civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. Students at universities,
including UNC, became some of the most
influential and strongest voices in powering forward those
movements during a tumultuous period of our nation’s history. But journalism and storytelling
have always existed since humans began exploring their
surroundings and building hunter/gatherer communities. The changes in forms
of dissemination, distribution in this digital age
have shaken our old models and surely even more intriguing
and sophisticated means of communication than we have now,
including our smart phones to which we all are addicted will
be the norm in the future. But good journalism
will always be needed. We have seen over history that
the press has a vital role to play as the watchdog of
government as well as the watchdog of institutions
and corporations and higher education as well. Our system of checks and
balances is made stronger by the presence of a vibrant and free
press and our world is much stronger by the
work of journalists, many of whom risk their
lives in pursuit of truth. I’m extraordinarily curious
about what comes next and we do need these young, brilliant
minds of the students we teach in our classrooms in the school
of media and culture that I am apart of and across VCU. We need those young
entrepreneurs, visionaries, leaders to pioneer us into
the next era of journalism and deeper storytelling to give
meaning and clarity to our increasingly complex society. VCU has afforded me and so many
of you in the audience this afternoon, has provided us with
the opportunity to do our work in a rich, diverse
urban environment. I am supremely confident that
what we do here at VCU is as it should be, the most important
mission of the modern 21st century urban research
university in combining high impact teaching, scholarship,
and service with the goal of transforming communities and
building new knowledge as we educate the next generation. Some of the work that has been
the most rewarding to me has been with journalists and
educators around the country and world and much of those efforts,
many of those efforts I have worked in consultation with my
most esteemed colleagues here in the VCU Robertson School
of Media and Culture. I extend today immense thanks
for their hard work and inspiration every day. I especially thank
Professor Marcus Messner, Interim Director of the school
and a colleague with whom I have worked for more
than a dozen years. And Dr. [00:36:46], former
director has become just recently the Dean of the
Communications Program at Loyola University in Chicago. And I thank all of my
other wonderful, talented, gifted colleagues, too numerous
to name, some not here, and who are now at other
universities but they inspire me still every day. Also, thanks to my
extraordinarily fun faculty senate colleagues. A number of them are here today
from the School of Social Work, Mary Secret I hope, Holly Alford
of the School of the Arts, Scott Street, humanities
and sciences, Nancy Jallo, the School of Nursing,
current President, and Mary Secret of the School
of Social Work is a great friend and collaborator in the
senate university council, especially on issues
of shared governance. And thanks to Dr. Rao,
the President of VCU, to Dr. Rappley, and other
members of the administration for their strong support of
faculty and collaborative working relationships they have
with the senate and with the faculty of this university
and strengthening VCU as an institution. Most importantly, I would
like to thank my husband, Bob. I think he made it. He was teaching, himself,
quantitative statistics this afternoon. I’m glad to give him
a break from that. He is a faculty member in
economics and former Associate Dean at the University of
Richmond School of Business. He has been a full partner and
anchor in everything I have achieved. My daughter, Brin (ph), and
family could not be here. My daughter cannot travel given
that our third grandchild, a girl, is due to be born
any day, maybe any minute. So, I may have to – Bob and I
might have to speed away from the convocation to the research
triangle of North Carolina where they live. My two other
grandchildren, a boy, four, and girl who just
turned two yesterday, she had a birthday yesterday,
are an absolute thrill and I know the third baby yet to
be named will be as well. Finally, to our faculty at
VCU, to all of you here, to staff and to our colleagues
and collaborators wherever they may be, maybe this as a faculty
member if your first convocation as a new member of
the VCU faculty. I will tell you that this is one
of the most special places you will ever work and I suspect
you’ve heard that but it’s true. There are challenges in all of
higher education today and we have a multitude of problems to
solve on the planet for all of humanity. But be bold, eager, intrepid. Leave your comfort zones,
cross disciplinary boundaries, natural boundaries, national
boundaries, virtual boundaries. Break the barriers,
find those students, and so many of them are students
who hunger for knowledge and mentorship. You’ll find them eager. You’ll find them passionate. You’ll find them just absolutely
wonderful partners in all that you do as faculty here. Break the barriers. For every challenge, you
will find opportunity, eager team members and strategic
partners to do the things that may seem unattainable. But for all of you here, just
remember that the most important work is not what we have
done but what we do tomorrow. Thank you for this
awesome recognition.>>MARSHA RAPPLEY: Our next
award is the 2019 Outstanding Early Career Faculty Award and
I ask the Dean of the School of Education, Andrew Daire, to
come forward and introduce this year’s recipient.>>DR. DAIRE: Thank
you, Dr. Rappley. It is my honor to present this
year’s Outstanding Early Career Faculty Award to
Dr. Christine Bae, Assistant Professor of
Educational Psychology in the Department of Foundations of
Education in the VCU School of Education. Here’s a short video in which
Dr. Bae describes how she uses her research and science
education to advance equity in the public school system and
prepare Richmond and all of the students to think and grow
in exciting classrooms.>>DR. CHRISTINE BAE: I am
Korean American and I continue to benefit from the
sacrifices of my grandmothers. Based on that history, my
parents from an early age instilled in me the
value of education. There are systemic inequities
in our K-12 public education system. How can we create learning
environments for all students that are exciting,
that are inspiring? Science classrooms are such
an exciting place to study learning. Science is a subject where you
are learning to read and write and think critically and
communicate your ideas. The major goal of this project
is to get kids to talk science in classrooms, to get them
excited about making sense of complicated ideas so that they
develop scientific literacy. I have the advantage in the
school of education of being surrounded by faculty who are
deeply committed and being around them day in and day
out really challenges me to be reflective about how my work
is making a positive impact, serving the students and
families in Richmond.>>DR. DAIRE: We are so very
proud to honor Dr. Bae’s exceptional accomplishments. President Rao, will you please
escort Dr. Bae to the podium to accept this award?>>DR. CHRISTINE BAE:
Thank you so much. I am incredibly honored. I am a little bit nervous to be
speaking to you all right now but mostly I am humbled as I
reflect on all of the people who have been part of my personal
and professional journey. My accomplishments have very
little to do with me but everything to do with the
opportunities that were put in front of me and my family, my
friends, colleagues, students, mentors who have supported
me throughout the years. First and foremost,
thank you, Mom. She is sitting right here. Despite sending seventeen days
with me traveling all over Europe, she still made the
flight out here to attend today. And hi to Dad and Grandma who
are watching from Toronto. I love you all very much. Thank you, Dean Daire,
and my Department Chair, Dr. Maike Philipsen who I see in
the back for your leadership as we collective combat
longstanding inequities in education and as we also are
navigating new demands of the K-12 and higher
education systems. Of course, also for the
recommendation for renewal of my contract so that I can continue
doing what I love for another year. That brings me to my early
career colleagues and friends. Thank you, guys, so much for
walking this sometimes scary road we call tenure track. I can’t imagine going through
it without all of you. And then finally, thank you to
my colleagues and students at the School of Education who make
it a mission driven workplace, fiercely committed to improving
the lives of families and children in our community. In my short time at VCU, I have
witnessed exciting progress made towards improving the
educational opportunities for all kids. Yes, much of this work is
supported by lots of dollars from external funding so quick
thank you, NSF, IES, NIH, US Department of Education, all
of the funding agencies that are supporting our work and
I believe as we speak, we’re submitting seven
proposals that are due today. But this work ultimately
wouldn’t be possible or successful without the
collective dedication, innovation, and relentless
effort of faculty in and outside of VCU who are partnering with
K-12 educators to ensure that every child has access
to a great education. I am so grateful to work with
colleagues who value rigor and empiricism in their
scholarship but also, deeply understand and take
very seriously that our work inherently carries
moral and real, practical implications for
students who are often left voiceless in our society. It is my privilege to do work
that advocates for all students and to be part of the critical
mission to strengthen public education. Thank you so much.>>MARSHA RAPPLEY: And
finally this afternoon, I ask School of Medicine Dean
Peter Buckley to come to the podium to present
our last award, the 2019 Outstanding
Term Faculty Award.>>DR. BUCKLEY: Thank
you, Dr. Rappley. It is a great pleasure to
present this year’s Outstanding Term Faculty Award
to Dr. Lisa Brath, who is Professor of Medicine in
the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division of the Department of
Medicine at the VCU School of Medicine. Congratulations, Lisa. Please join me in viewing a
brief video illustrating Lisa’s gratitude for all of her work
with her patients as well as opportunities with learners. Thank you, Lisa.>>DR. LISA BRATH: The ability
to connect with people on a daily basis and to hope
that in some small way, I can make a difference, I can’t
think of any job that would be more satisfying than that. I could only touch so many
people in my life but in teaching others, whether it
be my learners or my patients, I could touch the lives of
people that I would never meet. The thing that gives me the most
gratitude is when I count the number of our former learners
who are now educators, respected, recognized,
awarded in their own right. The one role that has probably
had the greatest impact clearly was my role as the medical
director of the unique pathogens unit or the Ebola unit. We were one of the first
thirty-five designated Ebola treatment centers. The lessons that
we learned there, while they were
specific for Ebola, are making everything that we
do even at the bedside now, better from a patient
safety standpoint. It’s that same attention to
detail that is going to make a difference. This place has a way of getting
under your skin and makes you want to do better as a person.>>DR. BUCKLEY: Terrific. Congratulations, Lisa. Dr. Rao, would you escort Lisa
to the podium to receive this award?>>DR. LISA BRATH: It’s good
to go last and see that other people need notes. When I first heard that the
Department of Medicine wanted to nominate me for this
award, I said no thank you. Thank you but no thank you. There are so many
other deserving people. In fact, Kurt, I think I
said that a couple times. I’m not really big on individual
recognition or maybe more specifically, I am not
comfortable with my own individual recognition. Honestly, I’d be much more
comfortable and less stressed if I were where I was supposed to
be this afternoon and that is in the ICU full of unstable,
critically ill patients. That would be less stressful. But I’m here and I am incredibly
humbled and overwhelmed by this award. Particularly when I think about
the fantastic people that I work with every day in the school of
medicine and the health system, those who have been my mentors,
my role models, my partners, my team members, my friends. When I first came to VCU,
then very clearly MCV, straight out of medical
school in the summer of 1988, brand new intern starting in
the medical respiratory ICU, all I was trying to do was
figure out how I was going to survive my first night on call. I never would have foreseen
that I would still be here thirty-plus years later, much
less still trying to fill the shoes of those whom I so
admired and tried to emulate, those who made me
who I am today. I have been really fortunate,
as I think everyone up here has said, to be surrounded by
others who have believed in me, who have recognized abilities
in me that I didn’t know I had, who trusted in me enough to put
me in positions that let me make a difference. There are so many things right
in front of us every day that deserve our attention and I am
not easily able to just stand by and assume someone else
will take care of it. So, either because I have been
called upon or because I raised my hand, I have worn a
lot of different hats, often simultaneously, from
medical directorships in the hospital to leadership roles
and graduate medical education within our division,
our department, to being part of the medical
team for the UCI 2015 cycling championship. All to the point that my
pulmonary critical care fellows frequently tease me that
I need a bigger hat rack. But none of this could have been
– could have happened without my support system. So, to my family who grabbed
the front row, I love you guys. My coworkers, I see a
bunch of you guys out here, my eternal gratitude. And special thanks
to you, Shelly, for putting up with crazy work
hours, interrupted vacations, middle of the night phone calls
even when I’m not on call. I consider myself incredibly
fortunate to be part of the VCU community and I am humbled to
be recognized for doing what I think is just doing my job. Thank you.>>DR. RAPPLEY: Before we give
our thanks and show a round of applause to all
of our recipients, there is one more group
that we need to recognize. On behalf of Virginia
Commonwealth University, I would like to ask the friends
and the families of all of those who have won these amazing
rewards today and told their amazing stories. Please stand
because without you, none of this would
have happened. So now, on behalf of the
VCU faculty at large, I would like to thank all of the
people that you heard from today that won these awards. We have heard humility. We have heard deep passion. More than anything else, we
heard people who dedicated their lives to making a difference
in the lives of others. And that is a moving story to
tell and it gives us faith and energy to go back and do what we
do every day because every one of our faculty members,
all of you here today, the staff who support you, the
students who have learned from you, you carry these values as
well and you carry them forward out into the world and we’re
enormously proud of all of you. So, thank you for doing that. And I also want to thank our
student musicians who are here today. They are the After Dinner Mints. So, thank you for
playing for us today. I would like to give a special
thanks to our American Sign Language interpreters, so
for your work with us today. Thank you very much. So, this brings our
ceremony to a close. Please, I would like to
ask you if you would, stay seated and give the
recessional platform party a chance to exit and we invite you
to join us in a reception in the lobby area
immediately following. Thank you very much.

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