Staff Awarded For Excellence

January 31, 2003

Nick Marinello

Karen Wulff knew she was running late. Caught in bumper-to-bumper gridlock on Claiborne Avenue, she fretted about inconveniencing her colleagues who were assembled to take a group photograph. Good thing she didn't know the truth of it.

"The ruse was that somebody from Inside Tulane was coming by to interview us and take our picture," says Wulff, a nurse coordinator who has worked in the Louisiana Comprehensive Hemophilia Center since 1980.

When she arrived at work she was stunned to find Tulane President Scott Cowen waiting for her. "I didn't understand," she says. "He started talking to me and I thought 'You're very friendly but why are you talking to me for so long?'"

Perhaps sensing her confusion, Cowen asked Wulff if she knew the reason for his visit. "I began to think something was up," she says. Cowen, who had been waiting 30 minutes for her arrival, then presented Wulff with an oversized $1,000 check for being one of 10 staff members to receive the Tulane Excellence Award.

In its second year, the award program is designed to recognize staff members for excellence in four categories: increased productivity, enhanced objectives, cost savings and humanitarian endeavors. Wulff's sponsor, hemophilia center director Cindy Leissinger, nominated Wulff in the first and last categories for the contribution she's made to lives of the patients and families served by the clinic.

Enhancing university objectives also was the ticket for Kenneth Kuhn, a lab coordinator in the biomedical engineering department. If department chair Rich Hart could have nominated Kuhn in the category of "Renaissance man," it may have been even more appropriate, as Kuhn does everything from dealing with vendors to carpentry in order to maintain the department's 11 labs.

Kuhn, who has been at Tulane for 10 years, believes in collective effort. "If a department is to move forward, it has to work as a team," he says. As with Kuhn and Wulff, all awardees received a surprise visit from the president last month. Their names, job titles, departments and nominated categories follow. Carolyn Asbury, utilization review/quality assurance coordinator, Tulane Preferred Health Plan, category: cost savings.

Christopher Brown, refuse equipment operator, facilities services, category: cost savings. Amanda Buberger, senior program coordinator, service learning, category: enhancement of university objectives.

Amelia Chaisson, office manager, physiology, categories: cost savings and humanitarian. Susan Chevalier, administrative secretary, anthropology, category: increased productivity. Margaret Heffner, suspense coordinator, payroll, categories: increased productivity and cost savings.

Brian Jones, director of projects and innovations, student affairs, categories: increased productivity. Galo Yepez, refuse equipment operator, facilities services, category: cost savings.

Nick Marinello can be reached at

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000