VCU honors seven at faculty convocation

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VCU recognized seven faculty Tuesday at the university's annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation. (Thomas Kojcsich)

VCU recognized seven faculty Tuesday at the university’s annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation. (Thomas Kojcsich)

Sonya Clark recently hurt her back. So when she gingerly made her way to the podium Tuesday at Virginia Commonwealth University’s annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation, she decided to use the moment as metaphor.

First, she told a joke.

“Those of you who know me know I don’t usually do anything slowly, and, though I’m Jamaican, clearly I’m not channeling Usain Bolt,” Clark said. “There’s this great aphorism that if you want to go fast you go by yourself and if you want to go far you go with a community. I’m going slow today because of the community that I’ve had the privilege of being involved with here at VCU.”

Clark, chair of the Department of Craft and Material Studies in the School of the Arts and director of the department’s graduate programs, was one of seven faculty honored Tuesday at the 34th annual faculty convocation. VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs, presided over the ceremony, which featured remarks from the honorees and Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., chief executive officer for VCU Health System and VCU vice president of health sciences.

“What really distinguishes VCU’s faculty is the innovation and transformation and collaboration,” Rao said. “Part of the evidence is the transformational impact we have on the communities we serve. The most important thing we do: We continue to take what we do at this institution and connect it to the greatest and most important needs of the people in our community.”

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Scholarship provides financial and moral support to students researching cures for neurological diseases

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John Saathoff should never have received the Lowenthal Award in 2014.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy had already chosen Kavita Iyer, who was then, like Saathoff, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, to receive the award, which was established in 2000 by Hilda Meth, Ed.D.

Saathoff applied late, but he was permitted an interview. He so impressed Meth, who met with the finalist, that she created a second award that year, though not before putting Saathoff through his paces.

“John had a lot of fire, but he is not a bookworm,” Meth said, an assertion Saathoff, whose research is in Alzheimer’s disease, readily agrees with. The committee set a requirement that he increase his GPA from 3.0 to 3.25.

“I have never been one of those people who sell themselves, I guess,” Saathoff said. “I was a little hesitant to apply for the award; I figured I wouldn’t get it.”

But, buoyed by Meth’s interest in him, Saathoff worked hard and exceeded the GPA goal.

“She wants you to succeed, and she looks out for you,” he said. “It’s a nurturing relationship.”

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VCU will honor distinguished faculty

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Virginia Commonwealth University will recognize distinguished faculty during the 34th annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs, will preside over the ceremony, which takes place at 11 a.m.on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 922 Park Ave. A reception will follow the ceremony. VCU will live stream the event online at http://go.vcu.edu/convocation.

Awards will be presented to faculty members who have distinguished themselves and the university through their commitment to excellence, service, teaching and scholarship.

For the first time, two additional faculty members will be recognized in the categories of outstanding early career faculty and outstanding term faculty.

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For the second time, VCU Medical Center Medical Psychiatry Unit earns prestigious nursing award

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VCU and VCU Health leaders pose for a photo at an Aug. 5 ceremony to celebrate the Medical Psychiatry Unit, which received a Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

VCU and VCU Health leaders pose for a photo at an Aug. 5 ceremony to celebrate the Medical Psychiatry Unit, which received a Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center Medical Psychiatry Unit is again the only one of its kind to earn national recognition for exemplary practices in patient care. The acknowledgment comes in the form of a silver-level Beacon Recognition for Excellence Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

For nurses, a Beacon Award signals a positive and supportive work environment with greater collaboration between colleagues and leaders, higher morale and lower turnover. For patients and families, the Beacon Award showcases exceptional care through improved outcomes, and teamwork that caters specifically to patients’ greatest and gravest needs.

At an Aug. 5 ceremony to commemorate the award, VCU and VCU Health System President Michael Rao, Ph.D., told department members, “You are a model for VCU and [the standard of] VCU care.”

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Rickey Laurentiis receives 2016 Levis Reading Prize for poetry collection ‘Boy with Thorn’

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Rickey Laurentiis

Rickey Laurentiis

Rickey Laurentiis is the winner of the 2016 Levis Reading Prize awarded by the

Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University for his first poetry collection, “Boy with Thorn” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015).

The Levis Prize is awarded annually in the name of the late Larry Levis for the best first or second book of poetry published in the previous calendar year. Laurentiis will receive an award of $5,000 and read from his prize-winning work at 7 p.m., on Oct. 11 in the Cabell Library Lecture Hall (room 303).

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VCU Medical Center ranked No. 1 hospital in the Richmond metro area and among the best in the state

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VCU Medical Center has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 hospital in the Richmond metro area for 2016–17 and was ranked No. 2 in Virginia. VCU Medical Center also ranks in the top 50 in the country for orthopedics at No. 36 and is tied at No. 46 for nephrology.

“We’re honored to be named among the best hospitals in the country,” said Marsha Rappley, M.D., vice president of VCU health sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System. “This recognition is only possible because of the extraordinary work, compassion and devotion our entire team puts forth each and every day. I am very proud of our entire team that works tirelessly to provide exceptional care to all we serve.”

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Angela Flournoy wins VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for ‘The Turner House’

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Angela Flournoy.

Angela Flournoy.

Angela Flournoy has won the 2016 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, which honors an outstanding debut novel published during a calendar year. Her winning book, “The Turner House,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, tells the story of 13 adult siblings forced to reckon with their complex relationships and the deterioration of their east side Detroit neighborhood when their aging mother has to sell the family home.

Flournoy will receive the award Nov. 17 at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she will give a reading and participate in a roundtable discussion with VCU students and the public. The event will be held in the Cabell Library Lecture Hall (Room 303) at 7 p.m. For additional details, visit www.firstnovelist.vcu.edu/event/.

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VCU Health named to 2016 Most Wired list

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000000001VCU Health has been named among the Most Wired health care organizations in the country for 2016. The results of the 18th annual Health Care’s Most Wired survey, released today by the American Hospital Association’s Health Forum, indicate technology is improving the efficiency of care delivery and creating a new dynamic in patient interactions.

According to the survey, Most Wired organizations are using technology to build patient engagement with the individual’s lifestyle in mind, which includes electronic access to their care team. This past year VCU Health continued its focus on patient portal expansion and real-time visibility of clinic notes, which is called OpenNotes.

“VCU continues to expand upon its robust patient portal,” said Colin Banas, M.D., chief medical information officer, VCU Health System. “Within the last year we opened up our clinic notes to allow patients to read the notes their physician writes instantaneously. This is a powerful step forward in patient engagement, transparency and improving patient outcomes. The response from our patient community is overwhelmingly positive, and we’re just getting started.”

Most Wired organizations, including VCU Health, are utilizing population health management tools and partnering with other health care providers to share critical clinical information used in analyzing interventions aimed at key patient groups, such as those with diabetes. To get patients the right care, health care organizations are using predictive modeling to eliminate preventable problems. While VCU Health continues to build out new technology capabilities, it also continues to strengthen cybersecurity to ensure health data is secure.

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VCU’s Center for Sport Leadership ranked eighth in the world

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The Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University is ranked eighth worldwide and seventh in North America in the 2016 Sports Business International Postgraduate Sport Course Rankings, released Friday. It is the first time the CSL has been included on the list of top sports management programs. The CSL is also ranked eighth worldwide in the Graduates Choice category, which is based on student satisfaction surveys.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the best sport management programs in the world,” said Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D., executive director of the CSL. “This designation signals the consistent growth and evolution of our program, its students and our alumni.”

This is the fifth year Sports Business International has conducted rankings for sport business and sports management programs worldwide. The publication received a record number of entries for consideration. The methodology of the rankings are based on several factors: graduates employed within three months of graduation; work placement; male/female ratio; domestic/international student ratio; and average salary after three years of graduation. There is also a student satisfaction component, which is based on a survey filled out by a program’s alumni from a designated year.

The CSL has more than 700 alumni working in all areas of the sport industry, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, USGA, and more than 50 Division I college athletic departments across the country.

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Presidential fund champions innovative faculty research projects

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Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D.

Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D.

Cancer treatment is a lot to manage at any age, but young people who are still developing an understanding of their illness may not know how to talk about what is happening in their body. Often they are dealing with intense treatments with multiple side effects — hair loss, nausea, loss of appetite, pain and distress.

Parents are involved in helping young children with symptom management and also communicating with the doctor. However, as the patient reaches adolescence and then young adulthood, management of care begins to shift into the patient’s hands, and they must learn to prioritize their symptoms and concerns and to communicate with the doctor.

Suzanne Ameringer, Ph.D., is a registered nurse and an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Health Nursing in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. Ameringer wants to empower adolescent and young adult patients to take control of their treatment through a symptom assessment tool.

Ameringer recently received a $25,000 award from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund that will allow her to complete a pilot study for the Computerized Symptom Capture Tool she helped design. C-SCAT is an iPad app for patients that allows them to draw a picture of their symptom experience before they meet with their doctor. The intent is to allow both patient and provider to communicate better about what is happening in the treatment.

Ameringer’s grant was one of more than 20 projects to receive funding this year through the PeRQ Fund. Funding totals more than $930,000, including matching funds from faculty departments and schools.

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