The Perkins Three
Celebrating distinguished service at a ceremony last night
Among many nomination letters for the 2009 John S. Perkins Distinguished Service Awards, three names kept popping up.
“When you read the letters you get a very good sense of how very important these nominees are to the people writing the letters,” says Bill McMullen, a clinical assistant professor at the School of Education and head of the selection committee. “That’s true across the board. But three names just came up again and again.”
The trio, Ruthie Jean (CAS’95, SED’98), associate director of undergraduate programs at the College of Engineering, Robert Bouchie (SMG’92), anatomical gift coordinator and laboratory manager at the School of Medicine, and Ruth Shane, director of the Boston Public Schools Collaborative at the School of Education, were honored at a ceremony last night at the Castle, each receiving a plaque and $500.
“The recipients are spread out across both campuses and include people not only doing work within the University, but involved in the relationship of the University to the outside community,” McMullen says. “It just happened to turn out that way.”
Jean, who has worked at BU for 13 years, oversees on-campus recruitment and retention efforts for engineering students.
“She’s described as the mother in engineering, offering practical and personal advice for students during difficult times,” says McMullen, quoting from nomination letters. “Another faculty member wrote, ‘When discussing an individual student with her, her empathy and concern is palpable. Every freshman is tracked and helped when needed. Ruthie is our response for the freshman retention rate, and she does a superb job of it.’”
Jean’s BU connections run deep. “My family has 13 BU degrees among us, spanning three generations,” she says. “My husband is also a double BU grad and works at the University. I see much of my work as a way to pay tribute to the opportunities I was given as an undergraduate.”
Bouchie, lab manager and anatomical gift coordinator at MED, came to the University in 2001 after working in pathology at Children’s Hospital in Boston. He’s in charge of anatomy courses, the neurobiology course, the laboratory, and the anatomical gift registry.
“When Bouchie came he made a number of changes to the laboratory and the gross anatomy course. The faculty refer to the era before Rob as ‘PB,’ or ‘pre-Bouchie,’” another letter says. “Rob brings the highest ethical standards to the body donation program. It’s not unusual to see him working on weekends or patiently answering questions from prospective donors or their families long after the workday is done.”
Bouchie, a licensed funeral director, personally embalms and prepares bodies for anatomical study. He also instructs first-year students on ethics and is a presence in the lab, taking note of the students’ anatomical discoveries.
“The honor of being singled out for performing a job I love is very gratifying,” Bouchie says. “When I was approached with the news, I was speechless, which doesn’t happen often; I had to make sure it said my name on the envelope. I really had no idea that what I do was noticed.”
Shane arrived on campus in 1975 and has directed the Boston Public Schools Collaborative at SED since 1984, working closely with the city’s public schools. She also oversees the Boston Scholars Program, the largest and oldest scholarship program for urban high school graduates in the country.
“Ruth has helped countless students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds acquire the reading skills so critical to success,” McMullen quotes from a nomination letter. “She is tireless about taking on challenges posed by urban district schools.”
“I’ve looked for ways to create opportunities for Boston public school students to think about college as an option,” Shane says, “and to help them to focus academically, not necessarily so that they’d come to BU, but that college would be in their future.”
Shane says her ultimate gratification is when one of her Boston Scholars becomes a public school teacher, turning out more Boston Scholars. “I’ve been doing this long enough to be able step back and say, ‘We’ve really created a cycle,’” she says. “It just takes my breath away sometimes.”
The Perkins Awards are presented by the Faculty Council, funded by an endowment from the late John S. Perkins, a former University faculty member, administrator, trustee, and treasurer. Only members of BU’s faculty can make nominations, which must be accompanied by three letters of support. Members of the council’s Research Activities, Libraries, and Support Services Committee then read each letter and recommend four to six nominees. Members of the Faculty Council make the final decision, and letters are carried forward from year to year so nominees can be reconsidered.
Caleb Daniloff can be reached at email@example.com Comments