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Ervin honored with Meritorious Presidential Award

Friday, April 21, 2017
By Will Alexander
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Duke President Richard Brodhead presented Kathy Ervin with a Meritorious Presidential Award today, honoring her for her achievements within the Duke Neurology Department and four decades at Duke. Ervin was one of just 15 employees from across the Duke University and Health System to receive this award.

As administrative and credentialing coordinator, Ervin oversees administrative work involving the faculty of the Department of Neurology, including faculty appointments, promotions, tenure, onboarding, and mentoring. She also takes on other tasks that keep up morale and the Department running smoothly, from curating official portraits of the Department over the past 40 years, to organizing birthday celebrations for Neurology faculty and administrative staff.

“Kathy is the ideal--organized, reliable, focused on the important, calm in the face of conflict, and always professional,” said Nicole Calakos, MD, PhD, who co-nominated Ervin for the award. “She is an incredibly devoted and competent person who looks after the faculty with true concern and commitment. A pillar of professionalism and excellence--this is Kathy Ervin in our department.”


Erwin receives her award from President Brodhead. Photo by Chris Heldreth.

Chief Administrator of the Neurology Department JT Solomon, MBA, who co-nominated Ervin for the award, was also effusive with praise. “Kathy is the epitome of who we want representing Duke and the Department of Neurology. No one compares with her when it comes to organizational dedication and commitment to our faculty and her fellow employees,” Solomon said.

Ervin’s time at Duke spans four decades at Duke and nearly 20 years with Duke Neurology. Ervin first began at Duke working for the Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology as a staff assistant and editorial assistant for several years, before moving to to the division of Medical Oncology and then the Chair’s office for the Department of Medicine. “I started out in research, from there went to a clinical area, and finally ended up here in Neurology, which has been a nice balance between the two,” Ervin said.

Ervin started working for Duke Neurology as the administrative assistant for then Division Chief Warren Strittmatter, MD. Since then, Ervin’s willingness to take on additional duties, as well as the growth of Duke Neurology over the years, meant her work soon expanded to help other faculty members, organize symposia and events, raise funds for neurological conditions, oversee renovations,and other tasks.

These duties often took her in unexpected directions. In 2003, Ervin got an impromptu hug--and a signed boxing glove--from Muhammad Ali during a Parkinson’s fundraiser in Charlotte. Another fundraising event for Parkinson’s had her working with a group of NASCAR drivers to create a stock car hood and helmet design to raise money for Parkinson’s disease, only to see the final design fall through at the last minute. She served as a producer for two videos on Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

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Ervin poses with The Greatest during a 2003 fundraiser.

Ervin said that what she enjoys most is the relationships she develops with Department faculty. “Since my position encompasses recruiting, appointment, onboarding and promotion processes, I pretty much stay in contact with our faculty throughout their Duke Neurology career. I really enjoy this opportunity a great deal,” Ervin said.

“The most gratifying part of my work is faculty promotions. It’s a pleasure to participate in the process of furthering faculty careers, and getting to share good news with them!”

The Duke Presidential and Meritorious Service Awards are one of the highest honors given to staff and faculty members at Duke. The awards are presented to staff and faculty in five categories: clerical/office support, service/maintenance, clinical/professional non-managerial, managerial, and executive leadership. One Presidential Award, as well as up to five Meritorious Service Awards, are given for each category every year.

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Ervin makes an annual trip to the Outer Banks along with her husband Larry.