Woman and man holding award plque
Duke University Chancellor for Health Affairs Eugene Washington, MD, MPH, MSc, presents Gloria Johnson Bass, MA, with the Susan B. Clark Administrative Leadership Award

Bass Receives Administrative Leadership Award


Gloria Bass, MA, has been a part of the Duke Health family for 41 years, including 26 years at Duke Cancer Institute

Duke University Chancellor for Health Affairs Eugene Washington, MD, MPH, MSc, presented Gloria Johnson Bass, MA, Duke Cancer Institute, with the 2022 Susan B. Clark Administrative Leadership Award at a luncheon event last month honoring a record 26 nominees for this year's award.

The annual award, which was established in 2007 by Duke University and Duke University Health System (DUHS), recognizes "a Duke Health administrative professional who exemplifies the qualities of dedication to the institution, service to others, personal strength of character, and acting as a role model to others." The winner receives a cash award of $1,000.

"I want to express our gratitude to each and every one of you for what you do every day," said Washington to the roomful of nominees assembled for the luncheon on April 26. "You all are the wind beneath our wings. We excel because of what you do day in and day out."

After recognizing each of the nominees by name, Chancellor Washington introduced Bass, currently senior grants and contracts manager for Basic Science Research at the DCI.

"I am really honored to be able to recognize our recipient of this year's Susan B Clarke administrative leadership award, Ms. Gloria Johnson Bass," he said. "Ms. Bass has been a part of our Duke Health family for 41 years, and has grown her career here at Duke taking on roles with increasing responsibility."

Bass joined Duke in 1981 as a staff assistant in the Department of Anesthesiology. When she left, in 1996, she was in a managerial role. Bass was the first African American manager in that department.

In 1996, she continued her Duke career at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center (now the Duke Cancer Institute) as the office manager. In 2002, she transitioned into DCI's Research Administration division.

Chancellor Washington read aloud some "powerful excerpts" from letters of support written by Bass' nominators, including this one from Karen Kharasch, senior director, Research Strategy & Operations:

“For over 40 years, Gloria has been steadfast in her endeavors to support the core values of the Duke University School of Medicine and the mission statement of the Duke Cancer Institute, by leading with caring, accountability, excellence, respect, and integrity. Her innate ability to guide and shepherd junior and senior faculty through the complex and dynamic regulatory and submission processes is a technical feat. Although what truly amazes me on a near-daily basis is Gloria’s gift of teaching both faculty and staff. This characteristic is not teachable. It is part of who Gloria is as a leader."

And this one from former manager, Leigh Burgess, PhD:

"Gloria is always someone you can count on to assist you when you need it and always performing at the highest levels of ethics and quality!"

Chancellor Washington followed with this one from Barbara Rimer, DrPH, MPH, (now Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health) who worked with Bass for several years when Rimer was director of the Cancer Prevention, Detection, and Control Research Program at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center:

"When I hired Gloria, I was impressed by her strength of character, integrity, and the way she treated people. She had a special knack with people who were seen as 'difficult.' She managed to determine how best to work with them and to help them be their best selves."

Washington paused in the middle of reading Rimer's letter of support, joking, in reference to managing "difficult" people: "We could use someone like you in our office, we really could."

Eight people standing and smiling
Dorothy Johnson, Mindy Kempson, Karen Kharasch, Gloria Bass, Chancellor Eugene Washington,Tammy Pulley, Shannon Eaton, and Annette Beatty. Dorothy and Annette are Gloria's invited guests and Mindy, Tammy and Shannon are members of Gloria's team.

Thank you! (by Gloria Bass)

"I am extremely happy to be the recipient of the 2022 Duke Health Susan B. Clark Administrative Leadership Award. It is nothing less than an absolute honor to have my work recognized, and I must admit it took me by surprise.

I would like to thank our Chancellor, Dr. Eugene Washington for continuing to honor Susan Clark’s legacy, the review committee for choosing me, Susan’s family, all of you, and especially my team for nominating me.

I feel extremely humbled by this experience, as I knew Susan and I worked with her when I first joined Duke from 1981-1995 as a Staff Assistant in the Department of Anesthesiology. She worked with William (Bill) Donelan, then the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Health System. She was a wonderful person, kind, warm, and extremely helpful. Her kindness was especially important to me since I was fresh out of college and going to what we called the Green Zone was scary and seemingly intimidating. For me to be the recipient of the Susan B. Clark award is full circle because she was a person I respected and admired. 

I’ve seen a lot of changes in my 40+ years. I remember when the South Cafeteria was off the main hallway and there was a bank along the way for convenience. There was a street that ran between Baker House and a 3-level parking deck; that space is now being occupied by Duke Clinics. I remember if you had the chance to park in the deck, there were actually people who processed the transaction instead of electronic payments. 

I spent most of my tenure at the Cancer Center in the Hock Plaza area which was then a hotel.  I remember having to man the telephones — as there was no such thing as voicemail.  Most vividly, I remember using the typewriter, with carbon paper prior to the introduction of the huge monitors now converted to laptops, ipads, and cell phones. I also remember taking the tram from Duke South to North when I wanted to get there in a hurry. I remember grant submission consisted of walking across Duke to get original signatures, manually numbering each page of the application, making eight copies, and shipping the full application to the NIH. If you made a mistake, you had to start over. 

TRUE STORY- For one complex submission, several of us stayed in the office all night compiling. In the wee hours it began to sleet and at about 5:00 a.m. in the morning the PI, who admitted he had not slept in three days, asked me to ride with him to Washington, DC to deliver this grant to NIH. I looked at him and said"Absolutely NO way." THIS IS WHEN I REALIZED THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SERVICE AND DEDICATION.

He chose a safer alternative, caught a flight to DC, and met a carrier for delivery.

My, how things have changed; and I thank God for it!

Fast forward to 2022, the Duke Cancer Institute is celebrating its 50th anniversary and for twenty-five of my 40+ year career at Duke I have been a part of it. I am proud to have contributed to the success of the DCI and the University. Over the years I’ve worn many hats and had various roles, office manager, program coordinator, and now Senior Grants and Contracts Manager for the Duke Cancer Institute.  I was the first African American manager in Anesthesiology and am currently the longest-serving African American manager in the DCI.  My service has never been about me, but more about Duke’s Core Values, respect, trust, inclusion, and excellence. One rule instilled in me by my mother was to treat others like I would like to be treated. I understood early on that what people wanted most was to be heard, acknowledged, and supported.

Along the way, I’ve met some amazing people who have influenced me as much as I have them. Through them, I have learned that someone is watching what we do and what we say, and cares whether we show up. That leadership isn’t about exerting power over your staff, it’s about modeling integrity, accountability, encouraging development, and advocating for fair treatment. I’m proud to accept this award. It is a reflection of the pride I have in working at Duke, the relationships I have nurtured, and the privilege of managing such an amazing team. 

Again, I would like to say thank you to Susan's family for sharing such an amazing woman with us. I’m very proud to accept this award and will continue to uphold the standards that Duke has modeled.

Thank you."

This page was reviewed on 05/11/2022