Each year, Tufts University recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments of its faculty and staff by selecting recipients of the Tufts Distinction Awards from individuals nominated by their coworkers.
This year, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Clinical Social Worker Eric Richman and former Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Barbara Berman were among the 13 individuals and two teams to receive this prestigious honor from 230 nominations. Recipients were recognized at the 15th annual ceremony, held November 16 on the Tufts University campus in Medford.
“These two exceptional individuals are recognized for their leadership, and for going far beyond the expectations of their positions,” said Cummings School Dean Alastair Cribb at the awards ceremony. “They have shown a remarkable commitment to champion mental health and well-being for our students, colleagues, and clients, and for that we are truly appreciative.”
Barbara Berman was honored after more than 36 years of service to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. She retired in August.
In a recorded message shared at the ceremony, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Nicholas Frank said “In her role as assistant dean for Student Affairs, Barbara has exhibited leadership, integrity, and respect for diversity. For over 25 years she has helped students to be successful. She’s been a source of good advice, support, and wisdom. Faculty and students have benefited from working with Barbara and we all appreciate what she has given to Cummings School.”
As a nominator of Eric Richman for the Distinction Award, Angeline Warner, associate professor in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology, said in a recorded message shared at the ceremony, “Eric is a licensed social worker in the animal hospitals at Cummings School and provides essential services and mental health support for hospital clients, faculty, interns, residents, staff, and veterinary students. Outside of the hospitals, Eric has demonstrated innovation and collaboration, developing mental health and wellness programs for the Cummings School community—including mental health first aid, discussion sessions, and a mental health and wellbeing group.
“Eric also provides information to the community about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, tips for talking about suicide, Mental Health Awareness Month, and mental health support. Mental health has become more important to the education of our clinical community as we emerge from the pandemic, and we’re so fortunate to have Eric as a compassionate and resourceful leader.”
Richman was humbled to be honored. “I am surrounded by students and employees at Cummings School who are so smart, dedicated, and have a strong sense of purpose in helping animals, people, and the environment,” he shared. “It is humbling to receive such a prestigious award when you’re in an environment like this and know so many also deserve to be recognized for their passion and hard work.”
Grateful to those that nominated him, Richman acknowledged the value of recognition. “I think recognition is so important to overall life satisfaction and wellbeing,” he said. “When it happens at work and from your peers, it is special and does more than just make you feel good. Recognition helps counter the self-talk and sometimes self-doubt about whether you’re doing a good job or making a difference. It reminds you that your work has meaning and a sense of purpose.”