A small staging area adorned with flowers and balloons was set up on the Halliehurst Porch at Davis & Elkins College as faculty and staff gathered to hear the surprise announcement of the 2021 Robin Price Award for Staff Excellence. Among the group was the recipient, Campus Nurse Diana Burke-Ross, who had no idea she was the honoree.
“It was truly a surprise,” Burke-Ross said. “I was in a vaccine clinic and someone came up and told us to come down to the patio because they were giving out the Robin Price Award.”
The Robin Price Award for Staff Excellence is presented annually to an outstanding staff member at Davis & Elkins College who epitomizes distinction and excellence and who makes a real difference in the lives of students, faculty and staff. Award recipients are characterized by their distinguished careers and their enthusiasm for supporting and promoting the College’s mission of preparing and inspiring students for success and for thoughtful engagement in the world. The award was established in honor of Robin Galford Price on her retirement from the College in 2019, following a 46-year career.
Burke-Ross joined the D&E community as campus nurse in 1999. Throughout the academic year, she staffs the Student Health Services office providing care and scheduled clinics for students. In the 2020-2021 academic year, she served on the COVID-19 Task Force to help ensure a safe learning and living environment and established COVID-19 testing sites and vaccine clinics on campus.
“Over the course of those 21 years, she has nurtured and loved – sometimes tough loved – all who pass through her door,” said D&E President Chris A. Wood in presenting the award. “She takes an interest in the lives of her co-workers and students, opening her home to everyone – two legged, four legged, feathered or furred. She is positive, kind, calm – and funny – in the most chaotic of situations. Particularly over the past year, she has provided superb medical guidance to the campus community in the most difficult of situations.”
Burke-Ross credited other members of the COVID-19 Task Force in helping to make the processes of testing and vaccine clinics operate smoothly.
“I had a lot of help from so many people – the Task Force, Lisa Senic, Rosemary Thomas and Beth King in particular,” she said. “COVID, though an unexpected global disaster, did breathe life into my position of Campus Nurse. It presented challenges and hurdles that created an opportunity to interact with people on campus and in the community that I normally wouldn’t have been in contact with. Friendships were strengthened and new friendships created. COVID has also shown us what we valued but took for granted.”
Burke-Ross earned a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry and parks and recreation management from West Virginia University. Later, when she realized her calling as a health care provider, she returned to school and earned an associate of science degree in nursing from the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix. She has worked as an assistant principal, high school science teacher and registered nurse.