Four faculty members will be honored for teaching excellence at MUSC's
annual Faculty Convocation at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic
year on Aug. 23.
The faculty members are:
Amy Thompson, Pharm.D., Developing Teacher; Gene Burges, M.D., Ph.D.,
Educator-Lecturer; Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., Educator-Mentor:
Academic-Scholarship; and Julius Sagel, M.D., Educator-Mentor:
Presented for the first
time in 1995, these university-wide teaching awards were proposed as
part of MUSC's Educational Strategic Plan. In addition to a
commemorative medallion, each recipient will receive a cash award from
the MUSC Foundation.
"These recipients deserve
our highest praise for the contributions they have made and continue to
make to our educational mission," said Darlene Shaw, Ph.D., associate
provost for education and student life. "They serve as role models for
all of us who are fortunate enough to spend our careers in academia. It
is clear they are also role models for the scores of individuals they
have motivated, enlightened and prepared to be outstanding health
professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and
Medical Genetics, earned his medical degree at the University of Cape
Town, South Africa in 1964. He joined the MUSC faculty in 1975.
According to letters of
support for the award, Sagel brings a strong sense of humility to both
his clinical and academic activities that resonates exceptionally well
with students and colleagues alike.
"Dr. Sagel is one of the
rare individuals whose influence is so positive that his persona has
become a facet of how people view MUSC as an institution," said one
colleague who trained under Sagel. "For Dr. Sagel, it is always an
honor to teach young physicians and care for patients. He is at once
one of the most formidably intelligent and approachable of teachers. He
shows his humbleness in his reverence for the Veteran patients he
treats and the students he teachers."
Another colleague who was
a student of Sagel's began keeping a small binder of notes based on his
sessions with the physician. Now, as a faculty member, he adds notes to
his binder following his meetings with Sagel "in the hope that I will
someday be … as good as he is."
Sagel has received five
Golden Apple awards and five Department of Medicine Attending Physician
of the Year awards. Among his other honors, he was named MUSC Master
Teacher in 2007 and Teacher of the Year by the College of Medicine in
Kelechi, Ph.D., R.N.
graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Kent State
University in 1981, subsequently earning her master's in Gerontological
Nursing in 1984 from Case Western Reserve University and her doctorate
in 2001 from MUSC. In 2009, she became department chair for the College
of Nursing and a year later was promoted to associate professor with
tenure in the college.
A theme running through
the letters of support for Kelechi is that of a devoted mentor and
friend who provides constructive criticism when necessary and high
praise when earned. When the formal mentor-student relationship ends,
an informal bond continues, as former students still seek her counsel,
not only professionally but in dealing with life's challenges as well.
"I called her at 1 a.m. on my break, and guess what, she was awake,
answered the phone, and helped me get through a difficult time," states
a nurse and former student.
When not counseling
students face-to-face, Kelechi can be observed talking to other
contacts through Skype or other means, prompting one colleague to
"wonder where she finds all these students as they're clearly not all
from the College of Nursing or even from MUSC!"
Kelechi's mentoring has
not been limited to professional issues; she has also served as a coach
in the Healthy Charleston Challenge.
Among her awards are the
Teaching Excellence Award for Developing Teacher in 2005, the Golden
Lamp Award for Teaching Excellence in Undergraduate Education in 2004
and the U.S. Professor of the Year for South Carolina, also in 2004.
who earned her Pharm.D. from MUSC in 2005, joined the MUSC faculty in
2007 as an assistant professor.
Students and colleagues alike describe Thompson's enthusiasm for
teaching and the excellent rapport she has with anyone seeking her
She teaches her students
to be individual thinkers and to constantly seek self-improvement. "If
she does not know something in a certain area, she is quick to look the
information up to inform not only herself but those who are learning
under her," said one pharmacy resident. "I admire this quality because
this attitude shows me that learning does not stop once you get your
degree." That quality is demonstrated also by Thompson's recent
certification as a diabetes educator.
Her teaching—and the
respect she gets—extends beyond the classroom. She has been involved
with various health clinics in the Charleston area, including the
Community Aid, Relief, Education and Support (CARES) Clinic in Mount
Other honors include the
South Carolina College of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year award in 2010,
chosen by the student body.
Burges, M.D., Ph.D.
did her undergraduate work at Vanderbilt University and obtained a
medical degree and a doctorate of philosophy degree in Microbiology and
Immunology from MUSC, both in 1983.
She spent 17 years in
private practice, participating as an attending physician in
dermatology clinics and lecturing at MUSC. She joined the faculty
full-time in 2005 where she currently is an associate professor with
dual appointments in dermatology and in microbiology and immunology.
She also is chief of dermatology at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical
Holding one's attention
during a lecture and making it interesting are difficult tasks, yet
Burges continually gets high marks for her presentations. At times it
can go beyond holding one's attention; it can change the course of a
"I had just left the Navy's bomb squad and was sure I was going to be a
'tough guy' physician: emergency medicine, orthopedics, perhaps general
surgery," wrote one fourth-year student in his letter of support. That
changed after he sat in one of her lectures, and subsequent encounters
with Burges "snowballed into the passion that I have for dermatology
Burges, adds a colleague,
often goes beyond the lecture hall and adds workshops with dermatology
patients so students see firsthand various skin conditions. She then
sends personal thank-you notes to the patients involved.
Among her other honors is a Golden Apple award and several nominations
for Faculty Excellence awards.