2020-21 Presidential Awards

Honoring Excellence

Thank you for joining us to recognize the individuals and teams across Duke that have exemplified our university values and inspired us all during a truly exceptional year.

Individual Awards

John Anderson, Assistant Professor, Community and Family Medicine

John Anderson has served as Chief Medical Officer of Duke Primary Care throughout the pandemic, executing the coordination of drive-up testing sites, respiratory care centers, and transition to telehealth visits. He has enabled the unit to continue serving thousands of patients despite the extraordinarily challenging circumstances—while also protecting the safety and well-being of his colleagues, including more than 350 providers and 1000 staff members who work in our 50 Primary Care offices and Urgent Care centers.

David Arrington, Associate Dean for Finance and Administration, Sanford School of Public Policy

In his four decades at Duke and 20 years at Sanford, David Arrington has provided invaluable financial stewardship and leadership to the Duke community—including by transforming financial and grant support for faculty members and researchers. But he has truly gone above and beyond in his capacity as coordinator of the Sanford School’s response to COVID, ensuring the safety of the entire Sanford community and working in close collaboration with the dean to ensure financial continuity. He has even taken a literally hands-on approach to the pandemic response—moving furniture to facilitate social distancing, raking leaves, reconfiguring classrooms, and installing tents between the buildings.

Kafui Dzirasa, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Neurobiology and Neurosurgery

Kafui Dzirasa, who was the first African-American student to receive a PhD in neurobiology at Duke, has since gone on to an extraordinary career as a researcher, earning numerous awards from the National Institutes of Health. One colleague called him a “force of nature, a rock star who has broken the mold of physician scientists.” Perhaps his greatest contribution to the campus community has been through his mentorship and advocacy for minority populations in science, providing direct support to dozens of students and colleagues, designing and implementing core values for his lab, and advocating for policies that address systemic racism across the academy in both scientific journals and national and international media outlets.

Michael Howard, Managing Director, Duke Recreation and Physical Education

As Duke worked to respond to the pandemic, Michael Howard was tasked with an extraordinary and unprecedented challenge—planning and implementing a strategy to safely reopen the Wilson Recreation Center for students returning in the fall. He coordinated this massive undertaking based on public and employee health guidance, giving students a vital lifeline for recreation and release in an uncertain year. Michael has also demonstrated leadership in our anti-racism efforts, advocating for equity and justice on several university committees and leading roundtable discussions for staff.

Charley Kneifel, Senior Director, Office of Information Technology

Charley Kneifel has provided critical leadership in technology throughout his time at Duke, helping meet the data and computational needs of some of the university and health system’s most complex research. Over the course of the past year, he has turned his talents toward the rapid creation of new computational abilities that have enabled our pandemic response, including the development of the SymMon app to keep our employees, researchers, and students safe, managing the data for Duke’s testing initiative, and rapidly deploying strategies in support of the health system’s patient care.

Victoria Krebs, Associate Dean of Students, Title IX Outreach & Response, Student Affairs

Victoria Krebs has been vital to Duke’s efforts to make Title IX outreach and response more holistic and responsive to the needs of our community. She oversees student-facing issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship violence, and other situations involving gender-based violence, guiding students through the intervention process with compassion and grace. In the early days of the pandemic, she took on the additional role of helping to facilitate our Keep Learning team, helping to address the needs and concerns of thousands of students who had been displaced by the move to remote learning.

Robin Miller, Associate Vice President of Disbursements and Training, Duke Financial Services

In the midst of the pandemic, Robin Miller worked tirelessly to minimize financial disruptions for university employees. Over the course of the past year, Robin transitioned financial and research administrative trainings to a virtual setting, led efforts to administer payments to student employees in a remote learning environment, facilitated the additional leave days granted to university employees last year, and oversaw implementation of vital cost reduction policies that have enabled the university to continue to operate in an unprecedented fiscal environment. She has gone above and beyond to sustain the financial foundation of our extraordinary complex university operations.

Erin Wood, Senior IT Analyst, Duke Cancer Institute

Among the many members of the Duke Cancer community, Erin Wood stands out—she is not only a committed and talented leader on the information systems team; she is also a stage 4 colon cancer survivor who continues to battle this disease while working and receiving treatment at Duke. A committed advocate, she coordinates patient groups, leads a team for the Duke Colorectal Cancer Crush 5K, has traveled to Washington to lobby congress for additional research funding, has given TV interviews to raise awareness about the disease, and participates in patient events around campus. Her colleagues at the Cancer Institute say that she has inspired a renewed appreciation for their important work.

Team Awards

Duke Health Technology Solutions Telehealth

Since the outset of the pandemic, the DHTS Telehealth Team has supported an unprecedented spike in telehealth video visits—from 100 visits per month to 2000 visits per day, an increase of 59,900 percent. The team remained committed to patient care throughout, troubleshooting issues as they arose and helping answer questions from patients and providers over the phone. Their efforts have allowed for tens of thousands of patients to receive care that they may not have otherwise, and they continue to average between 1200-1500 video visits per day.

Duke Health Marketing and Communications Visuals Team

Duke Health Marketing and Communications played a vital role in communicating about Duke’s efforts to treat and respond to COVID-19. In the early days of the pandemic—when much was still unknown about transmission—members of the team put themselves at risk to capture video and in-person interviews with frontline workers to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of Duke’s efforts, reassuring patients and the local community. Much of the content that they generated will be used in future trainings to help ensure that Duke is well-prepared to respond to the challenges of the future.

Duke Family Medicine

Early in the pandemic, the Duke Family Medicine team mobilized to prepare for and implement the very first student COVID tests on campus. Their work with hospital administration led to the establishment of a separate COVID clinic in their office and the creation of a COVID testing tent in the parking lot where students, employees—and later patients could be safely tested. All the while, they continued to see patients and meet the needs of the community.

Duke Student Contact Tracing

As we planned for the return of students for the fall semester, we knew that contact tracing would be a vital component of a successful campus experience. The dedicated members of the Duke Student Contact Tracing Team—which consists of redeployed student affairs staff, one athletics staff member, and a large volume of volunteers—immediately went to work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. This team built relationships with students that tested positive for COVID, provided support for students in isolation, and investigated potential violations of the Duke compact, and have been absolutely instrumental to our success this year.

Duke Human Vaccine Institute

All of us will benefit from the work of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, which has been working since February 2020 to develop and research vaccines for COVID-19. In addition to these critical efforts, DHVI also developed an in-house test, worked with Duke administration to organize the campus testing program, trained healthcare workers early on to use PPE, and are leading the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine studies on campus.

LATIN-19 Team

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke faculty convened the LATIN-19 (Latinx Advocacy Team & Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19) to identify disparities in care and critical needs for the Latinx community in North Carolina. Over the past year, the team has brought the concerns of the Latinx populations to the attention of key stakeholders in government and healthcare, has supported the efforts of local and regional taskforces, and has advocated for inclusive policies at Duke Health. Their efforts are credited in part for a significant decline in COVID-19 cases among Latinx residents of Durham.

The Wolfe-Holland Team

As visionary researchers and infectious disease specialists, Cam Wolfe and Tom Holland have been instrumental to Duke’s leadership in the global response to COVID-19. Tom led the in-patient clinical teams caring for patients infected with COVID, developing treatment protocols and infection prevention practices that ensured the safety of our patients, staff, nurses and physicians. As leader of the Biological and Emergency Preparedness Team, Cam coordinated a data-driven response to the public health crisis, providing leadership to our campus, the wider community, and the Atlantic Coast Conference.