Faculty and staff recognized for longstanding and exceptional service at annual employee awards

Among those recognized were Jimmy Pollock, a maintenance reserve inspector who has worked at VCU since 1960.

Jimmy Pollock [View Image] Jimmy Pollock has been working at VCU since 1960. (Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

The past year has been one of change and anxiety because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person events like Virginia Commonwealth University’s annual service awards celebration have shifted to virtual gatherings. Originally scheduled to take place last October, the event was held Tuesday, bringing VCU employees together online to celebrate the university community.

“We are nearing now a full year of living and working during a pandemic. I am proud of the VCU community’s unwavering commitment to providing compassionate and high-quality service and care during this incredibly challenging time,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.

“I am very grateful for your work across divisions, departments and, of course, our campuses as one VCU,” Rao said in a video message he recorded for the event. “Your work positively impacts the lives of our students, our patients and so many in our communities. Now we are emerging from this pandemic stronger than ever because of you.”

The feelings people have experienced during the pandemic have helped shine a light on mental health, said Joel Silverman, M.D., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry who is celebrating 45 years at the university this spring. Silverman said he never thought he would “live to see the day when the prejudice and stigma against mental health was reducing.”

The hope is that when people have excessive anxiety and depression, “even if they think that life isn’t worth living, they will reach out and get some help so they can move to a very different place where life becomes worth living,” he said.

Faculty and staff with five to 60 years of service at VCU and VCU Health were recognized at the event, which featured remarks from Rao along with the leaders of the faculty and staff senates.

Service awards

Employees recognized Tuesday include annual recipients of the Dorris Douglas Budd Award, the President’s Award of Excellence, the President’s Outstanding Achievement Award and the President’s Award for Service Excellence:

Dorris Douglas Budd Award
Grace Albritton, Center for Community Engagement and Impact

Award of Excellence
Carolyn Conlon, Administration
Saher Randhawa, University Relations

Outstanding Achievement
Lisa R. Ballance, Research and Innovation
Tom Briggs, Safety and Risk Management
Erin Lucero, School of Medicine
Beverly A. Walker, Human Resources

Service Excellence
Rebecca Collen, Internal Medicine
Barry Lanneau Jr., Technology Services
Faith Mason-Bettis, Employee Health
Jo Murphy, Forensic Science

During Rao’s remarks, he spoke of maintenance reserve inspector Jimmy Pollock, who has worked for the university since August 1960. He is the longest currently serving employee at VCU.

“It’s a real honor for me to recognize someone who has been integral to the transformation of our university and health care system,” Rao said. “As he enters his 61st year of service, I am really in awe of his dedication to his colleagues, all of us and, of course, our mission. Jimmy, you have given your life to VCU, and you keep our lights on and you keep this university running. Thank you.”

Rao recognized the commitment from all employees who were recognized at the event. 

“You have helped to ensure that VCU remains the public good that everyone knows,” he said. “Thank you for your continued dedication to service and care for all of the people who need us.”

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