The UAMS College of Medicine congratulates the following non-faculty staff members who were honored for their contributions to the college’s work in education, research and clinical care. The awards were presented at Dean’s Honor Day on April 24.

Jennifer VanEcko

Two women with award

Sara Tariq, M.D., (left) presents the Staff Excellence Award in Education to Jennifer VanEcko, the educational coordinator for the third- and fourth-year medical curriculum.

VanEcko was recognized for her service in various education coordinator roles for the past 16 years. Currently the M3-M4 coordinator, she ensures that the third- and fourth-year curriculum runs smoothly and that students receive the courses they need. She works closely with Sara Tariq, M.D., assistant dean for undergraduate clinical education, on several courses and programs.

“Jennifer’s devotion to the College of Medicine is commendable,” Tariq said. “She plays a huge role in the day-to-day administration of the clinical curriculum and is a pillar of support for me and so many of us. I have learned a great deal from her about creativity, adaptability, and most of all, patience.

Tariq also read from a letter of support from junior medical student Daniel Escobar. “Every single time I had a concern or felt that something with my curriculum was amiss, she immediately took my worries on as her very own and helped me resolve them,” Escobar wrote.


H.J. “Trey” Spencer, M.S.

Woman and man

Paula Roberson, Ph.D., presents the Staff Excellence Award in Research to H.J. “Trey” Spencer, M.S., a biostatistician in the Department of Biostatistics.

Spencer, a biostatistician and research staff member in the Department of Biostatistics, has collaborated with countless investigators in his 22 years at UAMS, bringing expertise in various aspects of statistical study design and data analysis.

“Trey is always willing to take on new challenges, whether it involves new technology, new analytical methods, or applications to new disciplines,” Professor and Biostatistics Chair Paula K. Roberson, Ph.D., said when presenting the award. “His dedication to research excellence, coupled with outstanding interpersonal and technical skills, makes him well-deserving of the Staff Excellence Award for Research.”

Spencer has been praised for his work as project manager for the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design component of the Translational Research Institute, where he has helped junior investigators understand important concepts that support the design of rigorous research, as well as for his collaborations with established investigators.


Steve Michener, M.P.A.

Two men

Tony Seupaul, M.D., (left) presents the Staff Excellence Award in Administration to Steve Michener, administrator for the Department of Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medicine Service Line.

Michener was honored for his service as Administrator for the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Emergency Medicine Service Line, where he has had a pivotal role in initiatives to expand clinical care, research and education.

Emergency Medicine Professor and Chair Rawle “Tony” Seupaul, M.D., who nominated Michener, expressed gratitude for the “heavy lifting” he has done for the department as its Administrator since 2007 and for him personally since his own arrival at UAMS in 2013. He noted Michener’s recent work to develop the department’s presence at Baptist Health Medical Center in Conway and the Clinical Decision Unit at UAMS.

“Steve has earned the trust, admiration and respect of all who work with him,” Seupaul said, noting that the department is saddened that Michener will retire soon. “I really wish we could clone you, Steve.”


Gloria Townsend

Man with a woman holding award

James Marsh, M.D., presents the Staff Excellence Award in Administration to Gloria Townsend, executive assistant in the Department of Internal Medicine.

Townsend was recognized for her work as executive assistant in the Department of Internal Medicine since 2004, including the welcoming presence and guidance she has provided for the department’s extensive faculty and staff, residents and fellows, and medical students.

“For this steady stream of trainees, faculty and staff, Gloria is the first-line problem solver,” said Nolan Professor and Chair James Marsh, M.D. “She makes sure each one feels valued and gets the information and assistance they need, whether it’s directions for their first day of clerkship or a meeting with me in the appropriate time frame. She uses excellent judgment in her triage duties, and all are left feeling confident that matters are well in hand.”

Marsh also lauded Townsend’s contributions to creating a professional and positive image of UAMS and the department, along with her work to train and mentor staff. “Gloria helps us do our best and perform to our full potential,” he said.


Editor’s note: Staff Excellence Awards can be presented for service in education, research and clinical care. This year the selection committee elected to present two awards in administration in addition to one each in education and research.