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Week of 19 May 2005· Vol. VIII, No. 30

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2005 Perkins Awards
Conklin, Ricciardelli, and Glenn honored for service

By Jessica Ullian

Bonnie Conklin (COM’04) (from left), Vicki Glenn (SMG’90), and Marilyn Ricciardelli received the 2005 Perkins Awards for Distinguished Service at a ceremony on May 3. Photo by Fred Sway


Bonnie Conklin (COM’04) (from left), Vicki Glenn (SMG’90), and Marilyn Ricciardelli received the 2005 Perkins Awards for Distinguished Service at a ceremony on May 3. Photo by Fred Sway

When patients suffering from panic-related disorders turn to the Internet for guidance, one name appears on Web site after Web site: Bonnie Conklin, the nurse administrator at the CAS psychology department’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Conklin’s official job description includes the day-to-day management of the clinic and coordination of the center’s activities, but unofficially, she is the primary contact for people all over the world seeking help from the center’s clinicians. Her personal e-mail address is posted on the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Web site and on numerous others, encouraging patients to contact her for help and referrals.

“To me, it just comes by nature,” she says. “I’m a nurse, and my training is to be a patient advocate.”

Conklin’s instinct for helping others was rewarded earlier this month when she received a 2005 Perkins Distinguished Service Award. The awards are given annually to nonfaculty members of the University community who perform outstanding service; this year’s other recipients are Vicki Glenn, the administrative manager of the biochemistry department in the School of Medicine, and Marilyn Ricciardelli, the department administrator and financial manager of the department of social and behavioral sciences in the School of Public Health. The awards are administered by the Faculty Council and funded by an endowment from the late John S. Perkins, a former faculty member, administrator, trustee, and treasurer. Each recipient received a $500 prize and a plaque at a ceremony at the Metcalf Trustee Center on May 3.

You should always give back

Conklin (COM’04), who came to BU in 1996, describes her job as part nurse, part manager, and part public relations associate. She has coordinated most of the center’s media coverage, working with producers from shows such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, and 20/20 to set up segments about the clinic, and acting as a liaison for media outlets seeking interviews with patients. “In terms of trying to educate other people about anxiety disorders,” she says, “it really spread the knowledge.”

That aspect of Conklin’s job is facilitated by the degree in public relations she received from the College of Communication last year. Her son, Nicholas (ENG’05), graduates this month. “BU has been really good to our family,” she says, “and I feel you should always give back.”

The clinic’s directors feel that Conklin has given back in the best way possible. “I am not surprised when a patient returns from a triumphant success in therapy and wants to find Bonnie and tell her about it,” one nomination letter reads. “I am not surprised when a producer calls her or sends her flowers as a thank you for her efforts. I am not surprised when a graduate or undergraduate student gives her a hearty ‘Thank you’ for her hard work helping them obtain positions to launch their careers. And I am not surprised when . . . child patients draw her a picture for her office when they complete therapy . . . I know it is Bonnie’s wonderful mix of heart and dedication that made it happen.”

A longtime BU fan

In her nomination letter for Vicki Glenn, biochemistry Professor Vickery Trinkaus-Randall wrote that “her desk has been where ‘the buck has stopped’ with regard to all departmental administration” — in some cases, literally. The MED biochemistry department is routinely ranked among the top 10 biochemistry departments receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health, and Glenn (SMG’90) aids the faculty at every stage of the process, from sending in applications to monitoring the grants received.

She is also the primary administrator for all the department’s graduate students and the principal liaison between the department and the University — a daunting task, considering that the department is home to approximately 85 faculty members, 75 graduate students, 35 postdoctoral associates, and an additional 30 staff members. “Altogether there are approximately 175 people with primary appointments within the department of biochemistry who have Vicki as their ultimate link to University administration,” Trinkaus-Randall wrote. “Vicki oversees all administrative aspects for these people, from initial recruitment and appointment through the myriad of expected and unexpected hurdles that arise during their time at BU.”

Glenn has worked at the University for more than 20 years and earned an M.B.A. from the School of Management in 1990. “I’m a longtime BU fan,” she says. “The people are great, and because a lot of the other faculty members have been here for a long time as well, we have a really positive, warm working relationship.”

Dedicated faculty and students

Throughout her 19 years as a departmental administrator in the School of Public Health, Marilyn Ricciardelli has made it a priority to know her departments from every angle. While working in the health law department, she took the survey course offered to graduate students so she could learn more about the faculty. When she moved to the social and behavioral sciences department four years ago, she did the same thing, to get what she calls “a bird’s-eye view.”

“All of the faculty taught a portion of it, so it enabled me to get an overview of the whole social and behavioral sciences spectrum,” she says. “I really enjoyed it.”

Ricciardelli loves her work, which involves overseeing the department’s multimillion-dollar budget, supporting the faculty’s teaching and research, and working with graduate students, because it offers so much variety. She is also motivated by the commitment of the SPH students and faculty. “I’ve got the privilege of working with faculty who are really dedicated to their expertise and to public health in general,” she says. “And the students are not in it for the money; they’re in it because they want to make everything better.”

The department’s faculty members say that Ricciardelli, who previously has won the School of Public Health’s Knecht Distinguished Service Award, is responsible for establishing the department’s culture of enthusiasm and perseverance. “She is the nicest person you will ever meet,” a nomination letter reads, “one of the most upbeat, supportive, responsible, committed, caring, personable employees in the entire university.”


19 May 2005
Boston University
Office of University Relations