For Cora Ogle, PhD, it’s fun to "connect the dots” at the University of Cincinnati—to bring different faculty, staff, alumni and community members out of their shells and talking together.
A research professor in the College of Medicine’s burn surgery division, she enjoys introducing colleagues to the variety of life at the university. She’ll take them with her to CCM jazz concerts and Bearcat athletic events, work with students on the Cincinnati May Festival and fund her own trips to reach out to donors and alumni.
"I’ve been here 38 years and things change all the time,” she says. "But people get too isolated, even in their own department—they don’t realize there’s a whole big university out there, there’s other colleges, there are other campuses even.”
Ogle’s many years of service to the university are being recognized with this year’s Faculty Award for Exemplary Contributions in Service.
"Cora has generously given of her time and efforts without ever seeking power, prestige or gain; but always simply trying to be useful to the university she loves and to its city,” wrote colleague Nelson Horseman, PhD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology, in a letter of support for Ogle’s award.
Ogle’s efforts to support the university first put her in touch with the UC Foundation in 2006, when she began volunteering on event planning efforts and coordination for the Proudly Cincinnati campaign. Since then, she has served as faculty representative on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and, in 2009, received the Trustees’ Award for dedicated service.
As four-time co-chair of the Foundation’s Proudly Cincinnati Faculty/Staff Campaign, Ogle led the campaign’s most successful drive in its five-year history. In the 2010 campaign, 3,309 donors contributed more than $4.6 million to fund needs and initiatives across the university.
"We’re finally convincing people that giving back to the faculty/staff campaign is like giving back to the family,” says Ogle. "These are particularly bad economic times, but, through this committee, I think we’re building enthusiasm for the whole university—helping people realize that we all are one big family, that we are all part of UC.”
In his letter of support, Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Mike Carroll wrote that Ogle’s efforts have "immeasurably” advanced UC fundraising, which emphasizes participation over gift size for faculty donations.
"It’s almost impossible to run a successful campaign without engaged, enthusiastic volunteers,” he wrote, "and Cora has always been on board to help in any way she could.” In addition, Ogle has served on the Friends of CCM Board, the Faculty/Staff Art Show and Auction Steering Committee, the May Festival Board, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Board, and has volunteered at student pep rallies and events.
"I don’t know of many others who give so much of their time to UC,” wrote Sandra Degen, PhD, vice president for research. "If there is an event, Cora is there to support it. She is a cheerleader for UC.”
Ogle and her late husband, James, have used their own funds to support the university, establishing a bequest to create an endowed chair at the College of Medicine and a bequest to benefit CCM’s jazz program, of which James was a devoted fan.
For an academic, an art lover and a fundraiser, the variety of Ogle’s interests continues to surprise those around her.
At each sporting event she attends, she shows her Bearcat pride with a variety of UC Bearcat apparel and her famous red Bearcat Crocs. Ogle can be seen at regular-season games, bowl games and behind the scenes, showing community members and faculty the joy of cheering the Bearcats on to victory.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Andy Hurley wrote that Ogle plays a vital role in forging relationships for the athletics department and is "constantly conceiving of ways to get things done.”
"She has chosen to be a difference maker despite not holding a formal role in the scheme of things with athletics,” he says, "electing to get involved because she appreciates what success in athletics means for the university and the community.”
Colleagues note Ogle’s seeming inability to stay by the sidelines—in whatever area she devotes herself to, she takes charge of her assignments and often furthers them with a leadership role.
Since her first teaching position at UC, as an instructor of biological chemistry at the Evening College in 1973, Ogle has made an effort to get to know students beyond her class load. She has mentored more than 40 medical students and trained more than 35 fellows in her lab.
In 1999, she joined the medical college’s admissions committee to review applications and interview prospective medical students. In 2007, she became an advisor in the Research, Observation, Service and Education (ROSE) program, which introduces pre-medical college students to basic research with two summers of volunteer laboratory work.
She’s still in touch with many of her former students and often sees them at academic conferences. "You get to see them progress, see what they’ve become,” she says, "Some of them have become department chairs or gone on to very successful careers and you get to think, ‘I was a tiny part of that.’”
Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery Alex Lenstch, PhD, describes Ogle as a notable fixture at the College of Medicine—"a pillar of knowledge and a great resource for the education of graduate students, fellows and residents in the department.”
Ogle’s own research, on the immune function in burn patients, has garnered many honors and recognition in her field. Not only has she served on the American Burn Association’s Board of Trustees, but the organization presented her with two of its highest honors: The Curtis P. Artz Distinguished Service Award and the Robert B. Lindberg Award for outstanding scientific achievement.
Still, she’s a firm believer in the value of "connecting the dots” in her work.
"You can get a lot more done by getting people to work together,” says Ogle. "I equate my success with being able to work with other people myself and getting them to be able to work with each other—to put their heads together and not just work alone in the lab.”