Cooper receives staff excellence award

December 11, 2012

Dawn Marie Cooper, administrative assistant in the Department of Psychiatry’s Resident Education Office, has been selected to receive the 9th Annual Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence, an award established by the U-M Office of the Provost to commend staff members who truly make a difference by combining enthusiasm with excellence.

In nominating letters, those who work with Cooper cited her care and concern for colleagues, her encouragement, positive manner, wisdom and enthusiasm for tackling a range of tasks. They range from leaving the office to secure last minute parking permits for psychiatry residents to sorting out issues regarding visas for foreign residents.

“Despite having to juggle a variety of tasks and demands, she always would bend over backwards to do everything she could to help someone as much and as thoroughly as she could do,” wrote Dr. Chris Anandappa, psychiatry house officer, in his letter nominating Cooper.

The Candace J. Johnson Award is a tribute to Johnson’s commitment to excellence and to the warmth and caring she brought to her work, says Provost Phil Hanlon. “Dawn Marie Cooper exemplifies the qualities we recognize with the Johnson Award. Letters nominating her for the award highlight her deep commitment she has to her colleagues, her unwavering support that helps others to succeed, and the high standards she sets for herself in every aspect of her job.”

Resident physician Dr. Gerald Scott Winder in his nominating letter recalled how Cooper made him comfortable during his first visit to Ann Arbor, and consistently provided a positive example. “She is inspiring in the way she takes the unpredictability of her job and its significant workload in stride. I can honestly say that my approach to my own efforts in the hospital have been enhanced from being in contact with a person who can exhibit this temperance, level-headedness and sincerity,” he wrote.

Dr. Davita Burkhead-Weiner, psychiatry house officer, also wrote of Cooper’s ability to inspire, in her nomination letter. “She pushes us to be better but only by leading by example which as a child psychiatrist, I can attest to being the best way to lead,” she wrote.

Dr. Kimberly Yang, psychiatry house officer, joined others nominating Cooper in identifying her as a welcoming, friendly face, when they arrived to interview with the department. Yang wrote that she arrived late for the interview at the University Hospital, and felt lost among doctors and patients. Yang wondered if she should leave.

“Suddenly, a friendly voice called out, ‘You must be Kimberly!’ Dawn Marie had taken the time to study all our pictures, so she could rescue lost interviewees on one of the most important days of our careers,” Yang writes. She says this was no small task, as the program generally interviews between 80-100 applicants a year.

Psychiatry House Officer Dr. Seth Knight recalled in his nomination letter the time Cooper offered wise words and compassion to help him cope with the death of a loved one. “It allowed me to process my grief much sooner than I otherwise would have. Based upon conversations with my colleagues, I know this is one of many similar examples of her going above and beyond,” he wrote.

Read the original article in the University Record here.