2021 2021: UMass Dartmouth COVID Testing Center leads receive Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service
UMass Dartmouth COVID Testing Center leads receive Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service

Marianne Sullivan and Greg Homol earned the prestigious honor for their efforts operating the University’s testing center

Greg Homol and Marianne Sullivan

On January 28, 2021, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts honored UMass Dartmouth Director of Health Services Marianne Sullivan and Director of the Fitness Center Greg Homol as the recipients of the 2020 Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service during the virtual 36th Annual Performance Recognition Program. Sullivan and Homol received the award for their outstanding efforts in the design, implementation, and daily execution of the UMass Dartmouth on-campus testing facility.

The award, named in honor of the late Secretary of Human Services Manuel Carballo, is chosen directly by the Governor and given annually to 10 employees or groups of employees who exemplify the highest standards of public service.

Dr. Marianne Sullivan, DNP, ANP-BC, has been a key figure in all health and safety planning processes at the University, and Greg Homol, ATC, CSCS, came to the Testing Center with a background in Strength and Conditioning, Athletic Training, and Facility Management. In the summer of 2020, the University began preparing for the fall semester and the need for at-minimum weekly testing of students by designating Sullivan as Program Lead.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition along with my colleague, Greg Homol. Since the early stages of planning the University's pandemic response, I have seen teams of individuals come together from across campus for a common purpose - to ensure the health and safety of our campus community so that our students could continue their academic careers, said Sullivan. “I have seen the selflessness of individuals and their willingness to work together to make our fall semester successful.  New collaborations and working relationships have given us a new sense of Corsair pride that will keep us moving forward.”

Homol was chosen as Project Manager and the two coordinated all aspects of the planning, implementation, administration, and continuous program improvements of the UMass Dartmouth Testing Center and testing surveillance program.

“It is truly an honor to be a co-recipient of this prestigious award, and I am so fortunate to share this with not only a wonderful partner and mentor, but also an amazing staff. None of the successes we have had with the COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program this semester would have been possible without a total team effort and a common goal,” said Homol. “We set out to make the testing process pleasant, and not a burden or an inconvenience. We connected with our students, faculty, and staff. We asked how things were going, what they were doing for fun, wished Happy Birthdays, and promoted safety guidelines. I am so proud of the testing team, the Health Services team, the many offices around campus who supported the testing center, and most importantly, our students for being vigilant, making good decisions, and keeping us all safe during this difficult time in our history. Go Corsairs!”

All residential students and students that take at least one face-to-face course on campus are required to participate in the weekly surveillance testing program. At present, the Testing Center in Woodland Commons on the UMass Dartmouth campus has administered nearly 23,000 tests and was designed to create a socially distant, safe atmosphere in which students, faculty, and staff can conduct their COVID-19 tests.

“I can think of no one more deserving to receive the 2020 Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service than Dr. Marianne Sullivan and Greg Homol. I know everyone at UMass Dartmouth agrees that they both exemplify the best of our campus,” said Dr. Shannon Finning, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “Their dedication to our on-campus Testing Facility has allowed our students to continue striving towards their academic ambitions and our faculty and staff to operate in a healthy, safe environment.”

As the Testing Center’s clinical director, Sullivan manages the interface with the Broad Institute that analyzes all tests and reports results. She also engages with local boards of health, oversees the University’s contact tracing program, manages all quarantine and isolation requirements, and coordinates a separate, stand-alone, testing operation for symptomatic people and/or identified close contacts of individuals with positive results.

Homol oversees the recruitment and training of staff and the seamless process that starts with scheduling appointments and ends with ensuring all self-administered tests are completed and prepared for delivery to the Broad Institute.

The Center is regularly staffed by employees that originally worked in different areas of the campus. When the pandemic hit and many campus operations were reconfigured for remote learning and work, these employees received specialized training and dedicated themselves to protecting the UMass Dartmouth community.

Winners of the Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service must be an executive branch or higher education employee who has been in state service for 2 years as of May 1, 2020. A Selection Committee, which includes the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and professionals from business, labor, community groups, academia, and the media review nominations and make recommendations to the Governor. Recipients are chosen based on their exceptional accomplishments; exemplary leadership; creativity and innovation; and achievement of significant improvements in productivity and/or costs savings in agency operations.