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Public Health Team Receives Chancellor’s Citation for Work During COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a number of unique challenges to colleges and universities around the world, particularly how to keep members of campus communities safe and healthy while upholding constantly shifting public health guidelines.
When the pandemic reached Central New York in the spring of 2020, Syracuse University quickly formed a Public Health Team to navigate the University through the Spring 2020 semester and the 2020-21 academic year.
The team was recently awarded a Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Group Contributions to the Student Experience and University Initiatives. This year’s Chancellor’s Citation Selection Committee created the special category to recognize the team’s extraordinary contributions.
The Public Health Team was nominated for its work to ensure a safe, healthy and rewarding residential and work environment for students, faculty and staff. This included developing and implementing testing and contact tracing protocols; implementing a robust wastewater surveillance program in residence halls; developing and executing detailed quarantine procedures; and ensuring University compliance with rapidly changing public health guidelines and directives. The team oversaw a comprehensive on-campus testing program that administered more than 365,000 COVID-19 tests during the 2020-21 academic year.
“There was no guide for how to operate a residential campus during a pandemic—this team started from scratch,” says J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, who has led the University’s response to the pandemic. “In everything this team did, they kept science, health and safety as the top priority. Because of their efforts, Syracuse University was able to complete an academic year with in-person learning and a residential experience. I am proud and incredibly thankful for the truly selfless work performed by this team.”
The Public Health Team includes Urvashi Bhattacharya, director of strategic initiatives and project management for the Division of Business, Finance and Administrative Services; Kathleen Coughlin, director of health center operations and administration at the Barnes Center; A.J. Florkowski, operations program manager with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF); Adam Hepburn, executive director of operations in the Office of Strategic Initiatives and Innovation; Joseph Hernon, director of emergency management and business continuity planning; Pruthvi Kilaru, program manager in the Department of Public Health in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics; Brittany Kmush, assistant professor of public health in the Falk College; David Larsen, associate professor of public health in the Falk College; Madeline Mackowski, lab supervisor in the Office of Strategic Initiatives and Innovation; Dr. Karen Nardella, University medical director; Mandy Patti, project manager, Enterprise Process Support, Information Technology Services; Ramesh Raina, interim vice president of research; and Deepjyoti Singh, postdoctoral researcher, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences.