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2010 President's Excellence Award Recipients Announced

Posted Dec. 13, 2010

The last week of classes in December brought good news to 11 Kent State University employees who were selected as the second group of recipients of the President's Excellence Award. Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton dropped in on the workplace of each of the recipients last week to notify them of their honor and present each of them with a check for $1,000. In one instance, at Kent State University at Salem, Lefton informed the winner via Ichat on a computer.

The President's Excellence Award was implemented in 2009 to recognize full-time classified and unclassified employees who demonstrated exceptional performance in advancing one of the goals of the university's excellence agenda during the previous fiscal year. More than 200 nominations for this year's program were received, representing 138 staff throughout the eight campuses.

The criteria included actions, initiatives or projects related to student success, diversity and inclusion, effectiveness and efficiency, quality customer service, collaboration, sustainability and serving as an ambassador for the university.

Lefton says this year's nominations brought to light the many examples of excellence that take place every day across the Kent State campuses. "The achievements of our nominees highlight much of what Kent State accomplished during the 'Year of Yes' and also demonstrate the dedication and diligence of our staff, in ways both large and small."

The President's Excellence Award recipients are:

Jennifer Arnold
Manager, Special Events
Donor Services
Division of Institutional Advancement
Nominated for:
Serves as an ambassador for the university

Jennifer Arnold was nominated for organizing and executing the university's Centennial Campaign Kick-Off event in the fall of 2009. The event included a reception, dinner, entertainment and theatre production for more than 400 current and potential university donors. Her nominator described the event as well orchestrated and top quality, showcasing Kent State at its absolute best. "While there were many players involved in this event, it took an army to make it successful, and Arnold was the commander in chief who organized and facilitated the entire evening," the nomination said, in part. The nominator adds that while the impact of the event could be witnessed on the faces of the guests that evening, the most telling impact came later, when the university began receiving new financial commitments.

Eve Dalton
Manager, Information Technology
Educational Technology Design and Outreach
Division of Information Services
Nominated for:
Student Success, Effectiveness and Efficiency

Two faculty members nominated Eve Dalton and both mentioned Dalton's skills, knowledge and commitment in helping them develop new online courses. Dalton was recognized for her constant involvement with the project, her insight into online learning and her availability to make changes to course content, many times on evenings and weekends. One nominator said that Dalton's greatest devotion is to students, and that she is "committed to investing as much time as is needed for students to have the greatest online learning experiences possible." Another nominator says that when asked what kind of support was needed to continue to offer more online courses, the answer was, "we need more Eve Daltons."

Sherry Ernsberger
Senior Secretary, Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies
College of Education, Health and Human Services
Academic Affairs
Nominated for:
Effectiveness and Efficiency, Collaboration

Sherry Ernsberger was nominated by seven faculty members in two different categories. The comments described Ernsberger's positive attitude, flexibility, magnitude of personal and professional responsibility and her willingness to go beyond what is expected in order for the faculty to be successful in teaching, research and service. She was also described as being a model of effectiveness and efficiency. One of her nominators says, "Sherry exemplifies the kind of employee that has the work ethic, knowledge, skills and disposition needed to contribute to a positive and professional workplace." Another noted that she is attentive to detail, never leaving an assignment undone and always willing to go the extra mile.

Rachael Esterly
Lead IT User Support Analyst
Computer Center
Kent State University at East Liverpool and Kent State University at Salem
Nominated for:
Serves as an ambassador for the university

Rachael Esterly was nominated for the work she did in planning the highly successful Kent State Columbiana Campuses Alternative Spring Break project; a week-long residential learning and fellowship experience for 28 Kent State students. The nomination states that Esterly spent months prior to the event coordinating the various service projects throughout Columbiana County, organizing transportation to and from each project and arranging for all meals and evening activities. She not only participated in the learning activities, but stayed each night with the students, sleeping on the gymnasium floor. Esterly's nominator says the students were "engaged in the world beyond our campuses," due in large part to Esterly's tireless efforts.

Jeff Futo
Police Officer
Department of Public Safety
Business and Finance
Nominated for:
Quality Customer Service

Officer Jeff Futo was nominated for his extraordinary involvement and dedication to the Kent State Police Services Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program. The nomination states that Futo developed and coordinated the program for the Kent State police and greater Portage County community. The result has been an improvement in the quality of service provided by university police, and helps to bring crisis situations to a positive resolution. Futo has also been involved in training faculty and staff to recognize "red flags" among students and others that might indicate a person is in crisis before it becomes a major problem. Futo was recognized for his work with two honors in 2010: locally with the Portage County CIT Officer of the Year award, and statewide when he was named the Campus CIT Officer of the Year.

Dana Lawless-Andric
Director, Pre-College TRIO Upward Bound Programs
Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Nominated For:
Student Success, Diversity and Inclusion

Dana Lawless-Andric received two nominations. In her work with the Upward Bound program, she was recognized for developing long-term relationships with every student and encouraging them directly, which has resulted in high persistence and graduation rates. One nominator says many of these students "have been told they will not amount to much because of their diversity and differences, but 'Ms. Dana' fights for these students and their futures." The other nominator spoke of the changes Lawless-Andric has made in the Upward Bound Bridge program that better meet student needs and increase student preparation for college; and the fact that Kent State's Upward Bound program has been recognized nationally.

Tony Licata
Head Locksmith
Department of Residence Services
Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Nominated For:
Quality Customer Service

Nominated by his supervisor, Tony Licata is described as an employee who takes pride in seeing a job through to completion no matter the time or effort, even if it's 4:15 in the morning. The nominator adds that Licata is quick to respond to requests from other staff members with "I'd love to help," or "let's meet and figure it out." He was also cited for taking the time during student move-in days to explain to an anxious parent the security protocols in place in the residence halls. The nomination for Licata sums up his outstanding service by saying: "he does not work as he does for any other reason than he is proud of the university and the role he can play in contributing to student success."

Michelle Parrish
Special Assistant, Finance
College of Business Administration
Academic Affairs
Nominated for:
Student Success

Michelle Parrish's supervisor nominated her for being a shining example of student success. Through her tireless efforts all 41 graduate students in the financial engineering program were able to secure internships with high-profile business firms despite the difficult economy. Throughout the process, Parrish worked with the students to make sure they were prepared for their interviews and organized career development workshops. Parrish was also recognized for getting to know each student in the 12-month program and helping them prepare for success after graduation. Her nominator says it is no surprise that her relationship with the students does not end with graduation; she remains a resource to them for job opportunities, recruiter information, continued motivation and advice.

Brian Pickering
Project Manager
Office of the University Architect
Business and Finance
Nominated For:
Effectiveness and Efficiency

Brian Pickering's nominator describes the landscape architect as an effective and efficient manager, particularly in handling all the details of the recent Risman Plaza renovation. The project was technically challenging from a construction standpoint, and the nomination says Pickering "managed the magnitude of this task with an amiable demeanor and can-do attitude." He worked to seek input from the community during the design phase and worked tirelessly during the construction phase, often on evenings and weekends. Pickering is also managing several other renovation projects and "consistently provides effective management and decision-making throughout these projects; the Kent Campus is more beautiful because of his efforts."

William Stevens
Custodial Worker
Campus Environment and Operations
Business and Finance
Nominated For:
Quality Customer Service

William Stevens has worked in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (MAC Center) Annex for 10 years and was instrumental in the success of moving the annex custodial service to an entire day shift operation. His nominator points out that this change resulted in a cost savings for the university with a reduction in energy for lighting and cooling the building. Stevens was also cited for constant communications with the building curator to make sure everything is scheduled properly and without any disruption to service. He is described by his nominator as a true professional who has maintained an outstanding work ethic and high standards toward even the mundane daily routines.

Emily Vincent (pictured, front)
Director, University Media Relations
University Communications and Marketing
University Relations
Nominated for: Serves as an ambassador for the university

Emily Vincent's nomination describe her as an exceptional performer who "helps shape the public's image of Kent State by ensuring that our stories are told, whether good or bad, in a manner that best protects our good reputation." Specifically she was nominated for her efforts in organizing and communicating media information about the events and activities surrounding the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of May 4, 1970. She did this by engaging students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, as well as scholars from across the country to gather input for media resources. Her nominator says Vincent helped create news stories that "talked about the university today and told a more future-looking story than the anniversary's typical coverage of the past."

For images of all the nominees, go to the President's page.

By Carla Wyckoff