Accolades: UVA’s Sustainability Efforts Earn National Recognition

UVA's Lawn (Photo by Jane Haley)

A national organization for education facilities recently awarded the University of Virginia its 2016 Sustainability Award for leadership in embedding sustainable practices throughout the University.

Formerly known as the Association of Physical Plant Administrators, the 100-year-old group, APPA: Leadership in Educational Facilities gives the award to recognize the current level and effort of a facilities management department and the integration of sustainability into the academic curriculum of the institution.  

“Facilities Management’s sustainability programs at UVA have developed exponentially over the past four years,” said Paul Wuebold, APPA’s vice president of professional affairs and the chair of the Awards and Recognition Committee.

UVA’s comprehensive sustainability plan incorporates social, environmental and economic sustainability considerations into the University’s strategic initiatives. It calls for making purchasing practices more environmentally responsible, increasing the efficient use of buildings and lands to reduce the need for new construction, and enhancing and expanding the number of sustainable sites and buildings.

The plan also seeks to annually increase the percentage of sustainably sourced food and beverages available on Grounds, as well as to reduce food waste and energy and water usage in dining operations. Academically, sustainability elements are incorporated into the curriculum, and the University created a sustainability minor in 2011.

Among the University’s accomplishments is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 4.96 percent since 2009, even while increasing its building space by 1.7 million square feet and increasing the population of students, faculty and staff by 6.3 percent. UVA has also reduced its overall water use by 11 percent since 2010 and is diverting 44 percent of its waste from the landfill through reuse, recycling and composting.“Sustainability is one of the four core initiatives of Facilities Management,” said Andrea Trimble, director of UVA’s Office for Sustainability. “As Facilities Management continually strives to be a leader in environmental stewardship, it seeks to be an extraordinary example of a community within UVA working as a unified team to help achieve the University’s sustainability goals.”

Two English Faculty Members Win NEH Teaching Professorships

James Seitz, director of UVA’s Academic Writing Program, and poet Lisa Russ Spaar, his colleague in the English department, have received NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorships, which aim to support innovative research and practices in pedagogy and course development.

Seitz and Spaar will use the grants to explore and enhance these creative ways to teach and learn writing. Seitz would like to give students more opportunities to experience the pleasures of writing by experimenting with different forms, voices and styles. Spaar would like to expand the interdisciplinary idea behind her literature course, “Selfies Then and Now: Self-Portraiture in Visual Art and Poetry,” especially how technology currently influences our sense of identity.

Funded through a National Endowment for the Humanities Special Challenge Grant, the professorships have been administered by UVA’s Center for Teaching Excellence since 1995.

Seitz will hold the Richard A. and Sara Page Mayo NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorship for three years, and Spaar will have the Horace W. Goldsmith NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorship for two years.

Faculty members, selected through a competitive process, must submit an application for the project they will work on through the professorship. Usually only one of three professorships is granted each year, and it comes with additional salary, an annual $3,500 research fund and project expenses of up to $15,000. Each endowed professor works with the Center for Teaching Excellence to share – through workshops, discussions, publications – the creative and effective undergraduate teaching developed to promote students’ long-lasting learning in the humanities.

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UVA Transitional Care Hospital Earns National Certification for Wound Care

UVA’s Transitional Care Hospital is the first in Virginia to receive The Joint Commission’s “Gold Seal of Approval for Wound Care” certification. The two-year certification follows an on-site visit in June by surveyors from The Joint Commission, a national accrediting group for hospitals.

According to the commission, hospitals earning a disease-specific certification must demonstrate compliance with consensus-based national standards, effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and an organized approach to performance measurement and improvement. 

The UVA Transitional Care Hospital cares for patients with serious medical conditions that require a longer stay – 25 to 28 days on average – than patients receiving treatment at most hospitals. The Transitional Care Hospital also cares for patients who need to be weaned off ventilators or have complex health needs.

Approximately one-third of the patients seen each year at the UVA Transitional Care Hospital are admitted for complex wound care needs, said Michael McDaniel, UVA’s associate chief for transitional care services. An additional 20 percent of patients are admitted to the Transitional Care Hospital needing wound care along with other medical services. Wounds may stem from pressure ulcers, skin tears, infections, inflammation, surgical incisions or circulatory problems. 

UVA Rated in Top 1 Percent Nationally for Maternity Care

UVA Women’s Services and UVA Children’s Hospital were among just 1 percent of reporting U.S. hospitals to meet all four maternity care standards from the Leapfrog Group, a national patient safety organization.

Leapfrog’s standards for hospitals include: 5 percent or fewer early elective deliveries; 5 percent or fewer episiotomies, which are incisions made to widen the birth canal; fewer than 30 percent of cesarean deliveries; and appropriate experience with high-risk deliveries.

“We’re pleased to be recognized by Leapfrog for meeting these standards, which highlights our team’s dedication to providing the highest-quality care for both low-risk and high-risk pregnancies,” said Dr. James “Jef” Ferguson, chair of UVA’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

UVA Chinese Professor Earns Foreign Language Association Award

Miao-Fen Tseng, an associate professor of Chinese and director of UVA’s Institute of World Languages, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia’s Helen Warriner-Burke FLAVA Distinguished Service Award. The award honors “foreign language educators in Virginia who have made outstanding contributions to the profession,” according to the association.

At UVA, Tseng has directed the Shanghai study-abroad program, founded the UVA Chinese outreach program and served as the director and key trainer of the Virginia STARTALK Chinese Teacher Academy since 2008. She also has been involved in a wide spectrum of national and international initiatives, including serving as a member of the AP Higher Education Advisory Committee at the College Board and a curriculum adviser for AP Chinese Audit.

The Foreign Language Association of Virginia describes itself as “a growing, dynamic organization of professionals in education and business, students, and all those who have a common interest in promoting and utilizing world languages to accomplish their various goals.”

The association will formally present the award to her Oct. 7, during the association’s annual conference in Williamsburg.

Kendall Receives American Society for Microbiology Award

Melissa Kendall, assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and cancer biology, received the American Society for Microbiology’s Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award.

The award, given to two scientists annually, recognizes excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases. It is presented in memory of Irving S. Sigal, who was instrumental in the early discovery of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS.

Kendall received the award for her lab’s research on how bacterial pathogens use ethanolamine as a signal to regulate virulence and establish infection.

“The Merck Sigal award is very prestigious – I was happy just to be nominated and thrilled when I found out that I would be receiving the award,” Kendall said. “In addition to recognizing my work, it’s a testament to the support I have received from UVA to get my lab up and running and to the productivity and talent of the graduate students who I have worked with so far.”

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Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications