‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of it’: Faculty and staff recognized at annual service awards reception

Robert Diegelmann, right, came to VCU in 1972 to establish the laboratory of tissue repair and th...
Robert Diegelmann, right, came to VCU in 1972 to establish the laboratory of tissue repair and the Division of Plastic Surgery. Diegelmann, Ph.D., recently completed his 45th year at VCU. (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, University Relations)

Robert Diegelmann was working in a physiology laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in 1972 when he and a colleague were recruited to establish a new lab at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I had met a plastic surgeon [at the NIH] named Kel Cohen,” Diegelmann said. “And in 1972 David Hume had us both come down here to set up the laboratory of tissue repair and the Division of Plastic Surgery [at VCU].”

Diegelmann, Ph.D., now a professor in the VCU School of Medicine, and Cohen, M.D., former chair of plastic surgery at VCU Medical Center, arrived in Richmond later that year. On Tuesday, Diegelmann, who recently completed his 45th year at VCU, was among a group of employees recognized at the university’s annual service awards reception, celebrating faculty and staff for their ongoing service to the university and VCU Health.

Faculty and staff celebrating from five to 55 years of service were recognized at the event, which featured remarks from VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.; Faculty Senate President W. Scott Street, Ph.D.; and Staff Senate President Nick Fetzer.

“VCU is a great place — a great place to live, a great place to learn, a great place to create and help to transform society, and without question a great place to heal,” Rao said. “And so the pursuit that we have made together of transforming people's lives within Virginia and beyond has had a tremendous impact.”

Service awards

Employees recognized Tuesday included annual recipients of the Dorris Douglas Budd Award, the President’s Award of Excellence, the President’s Outstanding Achievement Awards and the President’s Service Excellence Awards:

Dorris Douglas Budd Award
Margaret Poland, School of Dentistry

Award of Excellence
Katherine Mulloy, Internal Medicine

Outstanding Achievement
Nathan Bickett, Political Science
Valerie Harris, Division of Nephrology, Internal Medicine

Service Excellence
Diana Burkett, School of Education
Harold Greenwald, School of Medicine

The steady factor in that pursuit, Rao said, is VCU’s employees who connect with students and patients at both the university and the medical center. 

Diegelmann, an expert in tissue injury and repair, made a difference in the classroom and laboratory by enhancing practices in wound treatment and emergency medicine. He helped create a compound called WoundStat, which quickly stops severe bleeding and is designed to be used in combat and mass casualty situations.

“The discovery of this patent has saved literally thousands of lives,” Diegelmann said.

His four-plus decades at VCU have gone by quickly — “too fast,” he said.

“What I’ve enjoyed most about the work here is the interaction with the colleagues I’ve had, scientific colleagues and clinical colleagues,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”