COVID-19 Heroes

During the pandemic, we have learned that heroes can be found everywhere. What they have in common is making a difference in the lives of other people during an unprecedented time of change and struggle. We often think of first responders and essential workers when we are celebrating the heroes of COVID-19, but everyone in the Cardinal community has stepped up in extraordinary ways and any good deed is worth celebrating. Let's celebrate our winners of the COVID-19 Hero Awards and the incredible work that they did, and continue to do, for our university!

Asst Directors of Residential Education

Assistant Directors of Residential Education

Group Members: Timothy (Colten) Ingram, Olivia Langston, J'Lissabeth Faughn, and Mohammad Hussain

During the pandemic, while serving on the professional consultation on-call team, these Assistant Directors took on the primary responsibility of managing and coordinating almost 1,000 COVID-19 cases on a 24/7 basis. These duties included receiving calls or emails from Campus Health contact tracing and/or Hall Directors about students testing positive for the virus or being exposed, coordinating hotel accommodations, transportation, meal deliveries, inputting information into the Housing portal, checking in with residents daily, and providing guidance and support before and while students were in isolation. This was no easy task, especially when cases increased causing these staff members to receive several calls daily about students needing accommodations. Although they were inundated with managing the high demand of calls, they still managed to perform their daily responsibilities while providing not only care to residents but also their full-time staff. They filled a gap that was needed to provide a high level of support to UofL students during an unprecedented time.

Sherry BabbageDr. Sherry Babbage, Comprehensive Dentistry

During the pandemic, Dr. Babbage was able to keep emergency dental care up and running for the community. In addition, to further assist the community she obtained her certification in vaccination protocols so that she could help provide vaccinations at register sites. Dr. Babbage also went out in the community to arrange meetings to educate extremely hesitant and underserved areas on the importance of vaccinations.

Business Ops Customer Service/Quality Improvement Team 

Group members: Cheryl Capito-Paul, Donna Casey, Pam Frank, Allie Jones and John Spivey

The Business Operations Customer Service/Quality Improvement (CSQI) team shifted during the pandemic from their normal workload and volunteered to take on the critical assignment of serving as the COVID-19 call center, answering all of the campus community’s COVID questions. Whether it was exposure, masks, testing, or vaccinations, the team handled every call with care and compassion. And although none were public health experts or had a background in infectious disease , they worked tirelessly to stay up to date on the ever-changing policies and to provide accurate answers to each inquiry/caller. With their fingers on the pulse, they provided daily reports to the executive COVID-19 team to ensure their decisions were based on knowledge of UofL community’s experience, and helped to shape the University’s COVID-19 response. In all they answered 2,113 COVID related inquiries from August 2020 to May 2021, and achieved an impressive 90.4% satisfaction rating from their customers.

 Delphi Center Instructional Design & Technology and Blackboard Learning & Technology Group

Group members: Bradley Lawton, Angela Yates, Linda Leake, Alicia Montgomery Dunlap, John Morgan, Adam Huddleston, Aimee Greene, Beth Case, Deb Hatfield, Becca Denny, Jason Zahrndt, Danny McDonald, Robin Zahrndt

On March 9, 2020 the university announced its plans to go online beginning on March 18. On March 12, only three days after this announcement, the Delphi Center launched a university-wide training initiative to help faculty transition to remote and/or online teaching. Led by the Instructional Design and Technology team (7 staff members), trainings were offered in-person, remotely or self-paced. Once initial training was launched in March, the Delphi Center developed and offered three more waves of training in April, July, and October to prepare for summer, fall and spring. The team established six cohorts arranged by discipline, which were available online, either paced or selfpaced, with additional online workshops offered for hybrid teaching. During these four waves, the Delphi Center offered 146 training opportunities in which 2,187 faculty attended for a total of 2,701 hours. In addition to formal trainings, the Delphi Center’s instructional design staff held over 7,400 consultations in 2020 (more than 2.5 times held in 2019), serving 1,231 faculty and 3,444 hours. From the technology side, the Delphi Center’s Blackboard & Learning Technology team (consisting of 6 full-time staff and 2 student assistants) also ramped up support. Specifically, the Delphi Center added 13 third-party integrations with Blackboard, such as iCLicker Cloud, SmarterProctoring, Labster, and Flatworld. To ensure maximum help desk support, the Blackboard team extended its support by adding support on Saturdays and Sundays, and extending evening support hours until 10 p.m., including 24/7 on-call hours. Blackboard’s helpdesk processed 4,800 tickets in 2020 – more than 35% more than in 2019, without adding any staff members. Eighty percent of those tickets were closed within 48 hours.

Jeffrey Edlin, Security Officer/Escort Driver, Department of Public Safety

Even at the height of pandemic, security officers never stopped providing safety escorts to UofL students and Jeffrey was the primary driver for the students who remained on campus. Though provided with masks and disinfectant supplies to use, Jeffrey was never sure if one or more of the students might possibly infected by COVID-19 or if was placing himself at risk.  But that never deterred him from caring for those he served. As the pandemic has shown, our lives and our jobs are fragile and subject to changes in an instant. Jeffrey’s work faced constant change this year in rules, conditions, and the public he serves. But like all great heroes, he was able to adapt and change as needed to make sure that his service to the university community was not impeded.



 Emergency/Oral Surgery Clinic, School of Dentistry

Group members: Supervisor-Nancy Trabue and the Entire First Floor Staff, Faculty ACB OS Residents, GPR Residents and Patty Byrd.

As the pandemic shut down private practices around the community, the emergency/oral surgery group in the School of Dentistry remained open to provide emergency dental services. They were able to extract hundreds of teeth to provide pain and infection relief, temporary restorations to stabilize the patients, deliver dentures, partials and crowns that the students had completed but were not able to deliver because of the shutdown. It was a very uncertain time, but this team did all they could to support the community.




 Ekstrom Library Access and User Services Team

Group members: Alice Abbott-Moore, Cecilia Durbin, Jason Friedman, Matt Goldberg, Angie Kennedy, Chris Poche, Bethany Poston, Nick Sweat, Rayanne Turner, Steve Whiteside and Briana Williams

To keep the library’s vital services running as much as possible, the Access and User Services (AUS) team developed new safety protocols, including sanitation procedures, to allow for ongoing circulation of items as well as other public services. They also had to shift a large percentage of their work to a remote environment, while maintaining services within the library building. One of the most notable changes was a completely new contactless pick-up system in lieu of the typical book delivery service, which had to be discontinued for safety reasons. This convenient contactless system enabled patrons to request and pick up books and other items without having to worry about the potential spread of COVID. The system was popular with patrons and reflects the creativity and flexibility with which the AUS team approaches its work. Their work has had a substantial impact across the university, especially for students who had nowhere else to go during the pandemic.

 Felix Garza, Library Associate/PAS Director, University Libraries

As the Director of Patron Access Services for the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library (KHSL), Felix was primarily responsible for seeing that the library was a safe space for students to study on HSC. Under his supervision, members of the PAS team designed a space design the reduced capacity by half. He contributed to creating KHSL messaging, PPE supplies, and safety compliance policies and ensured the implementation said policies. As PAS Director, he was responsible for ensuring staff was scheduled to provide front line services to HSC students. This was especially challenging at a time when COVID-19 risks were high and had a negative impact on employee availability. He often stepped in himself to assist. Mr. Garza ensured that KHSL Inter-library loan/document delivery services remained open while most academic libraries around the country completely shut down. As a result of this decision, KHSL Inter Library Loan requests increased by 145% over 2019 statistics from countries around the world: thus, promoting the reputation and excellence of the University of Louisville.


 Dr. Jill Jacobi-Vessels, Director, Early Learning Campus

During the early months of the pandemic, the Early Learning campus closed from March 2020 to August 2020. Throughout that difficult time of the closure, Dr. Jacobi-Vessels worked hard to keep the staff motivated and parents and guardians informed. Her personal efforts included researching and ordering PPE and other COVID related materials. She consulted with her peers at other childcare facilities and learned as much as she could about COVID-19 and the implications for staff and children. During the summer, Dr. Jacobi-Vessels worked with staff to develop a transition plan for reopening the center after the summer hiatus. This included a mechanism for safely checking in/out children in and out of the facility in conjunction with their parents and guardians. The College of Education and Human Development and other university leadership relied heavily on her and her experience to first close and then safely reopen the ELC. Dr. Jacobi-Vessels worked hard to keep the staff motivated and parents and guardians informed during this difficult time.

Physical Plant Carpenters Shop

Group members: Charles Ames, Randall Cook, Adam Davis, Rob Elliott, Rick Gesler, Ben Gordon, Jack Huber, Kevin Kilkelly, Ron Leonard, Kevin Lush, Craig Lush and Ben Williams

When much of the campus had begun working remotely, a team of essential workers in the Physical Plant carpenter shop came to campus every day to plan for the eventual return of the campus community and to make sure everyone was safe. They focused on designing new systems and structures that would meet the university’s COVID safety guidelines including the build and installation of over 600 sneeze guards, 350 cleaning stations, and 100 foot pulls. And as if that weren’t enough, they assumed additional responsibility for moving desks to various locations and repositioning them within offices to create safe distance learning and workspaces.




Honorable Mentions

In addition to the winners above, many dedicated and hard working employees were nominated for a COVID-19 Hero award, and deserve recognition and appreciation for their hard work. Thank you to everyone for all you have done for the university community!

Group - Orientation Services, Group - UofL Athletics Sports Medicine, Group - Regional Biocontainment Lab (RBL) UofL Shelby, Group - Large Lecture Faculty (Spring 2021), Group - Karen Blake and Christopher Montgomery, Group - Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods, Group - Athletics Academics, Group - University of Louisville Department of Emergency Medicine Residents, Group - Law School IT Department, Group - Registrar Front Line Staff, Group - Campus Housing Hall Directors, Group - CPM COVID-19 Core Research Team, Group - CPM SARS-CoV-2 PCR Diagnostics Group, Group - CPM Co-Immunity Program Lab Team, Group - University Honors Program staff, Megan Adams, Joshua Boydstun, Patty Byrd, Channon Carrico, Torsten Hopp, Colten Ingram, Jon Klein, Jennifer Koch, Elizabeth Munnich, Kate O'Bryan, Adam Ross, MD, Lisa Sirles, Edward Tackett