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June 23, 2016

Staff win chancellor’s awards

Ten Pitt staff members have been selected to receive 2016 Chancellor’s Staff Awards. These are the highest awards the University grants to full- and part-time, classified and union staff members in recognition of their contributions to the University or their community.

In place of the annual Chancellor’s Award for Staff for Excellence in Service to the University and the Chancellor’s Award for Staff for Excellence in Service to the Community, the University has instituted a wider array of staff awards, including awards in categories that align with the goals of Pitt’s strategic plan.

Categories are: career achievement, early career achievement, administrative and operational efficiency, diversity and inclusion, student impact, institutional citizenship, support and service to the University, community impact, research impact and mentoring.

Broadening the array of categories provides more opportunity to recognize excellent employees, said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement, chief of staff and secretary of the Board of Trustees.

Humphrey said she asked awards committee members to consider how to enhance the annual chancellor’s awards. “Being able to reward staff for outstanding work was the ultimate goal of this award,” Humphrey said, adding that up to 10 awards could be given each year, but typically fewer were awarded. “How could we say thank you to more people for being amazing employees at the University?”

Kim Honath, executive secretary of the Board of Trustees, who chaired the awards committee, said that in addition to aligning some of the awards with the University’s strategic plan, the committee viewed the career achievement and early career awards as a way of recognizing employees who come to Pitt and want to stay at Pitt.

In particular, the early career category is a way to recognize staff with three-five years of experience — who previously had not been eligible for the chancellor’s awards.

Honath said the committee also standardized nomination packets, limiting submissions to three-five letters of support and a resume. The streamlined and more consistent submissions help simplify the committee’s work. Previously, she said, some candidates would have many letters, while others had only a few, making it more difficult to assess nominees.

Nominations for the awards may come from any individual within the University community or the larger community and self-nominations are allowed.

Nominees must be Pitt staff members for at least five years (three years for the early career category). They must be in good standing at the University with no adverse employment actions within the last 12 months and their annual review and continued performance must exceed performance standards. Past chancellor’s award recipients are not eligible.

In addition to the chair, awards committee members are: the Staff Association Council president, or their designee; a member from the prior year’s committee; a previous award recipient; a regional campus representative; an Office of Human Resources representative; and up to four at-large members chosen by the chancellor or his designee to reflect the diverse population of the University staff. The associate vice chancellor for Human Resources serves as a nonvoting member.

Awardees receive a $2,500 prize and have their names inscribed on a plaque in the William Pitt Union. They will be honored at a dinner June 27.

Honath said there were 60 nominations this year.

The 2016 winners are:

Administrative and Operational Efficiency
LeoLeo Constantino, financial manager in the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, is the recipient of the 2016 Chancellor’s Staff Award in the Administrative and Operational Efficiency category.

The award was created to recognize staff members “who made exceptional contributions toward the effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace, including implementing innovative approaches to improving productivity or developing cost-saving plans.”

In his award letter, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher wrote, “The committee was very impressed by the work you have done to transform the financial reporting systems, faculty research budgeting process and policies and process for academic programs at the KGSB and CBA; your commitment to transparency in decision making and your development of budget tracking and contract management tools,” noting as well that Constantino also has assisted other units, including the School of Social Work.


Career Achievement
HavranMargaret A. Havran, managing editor of the journal boundary 2 in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Department of English, was selected for the career achievement award.

This award was created “to recognize a staff member with more than 20 years of unparalleled service to the University, who, throughout their career, has made exceptional contributions to the success of their department and the University, who has earned the respect of their peers, and whose efforts have defined what it means to be part of the Pitt community.”

“As we come to the conclusion of the celebration of the Year of Humanities, it seems only fitting that we recognize you for the contributions you have made to making boundary 2 one of the world’s leading English-language journals in the humanities,” Gallagher wrote, adding that supporters of Havran’s nomination described her as the “public face of the journal” and praised her work ethic, her poised demeanor and her editing skills.

“The committee was deeply impressed by the number of issues of boundary 2 that have been published under your calm guidance, the caliber and distinction of international authors who have worked with you and the technology you have introduced to improve the efficiency of the editing process.”

The selection committee felt that, in addition to exemplifying the requirements, Havran’s work over the past 26 years has helped the University earn national and international respect in academic publishing, the chancellor wrote. It also was impressed by her extracurricular activities including her work to create a searchable database of freed African American slaves for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.


Community Impact Award
Ross PhotoTroy W. Ross, director of housing and residence life at Pitt-Greensburg, is the recipient of the 2016 Staff Award for Community Impact.

The award was created to recognize a staff member “who has dedicated themselves to making their community a better place to live and to improving the quality of life for others.”

In his letter to Ross, the chancellor took note of Ross’s commitment to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Jeannette Head Start and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Laurel Region.

Gallagher wrote that Ross has coordinated walkers and volunteers for JDRF’s One Walk at UPG; has helped initiate and expand the Jeannette Head Start holiday party on campus; and helped coordinate the campus toy drive and Lunch with Santa for local children.

“You have had a far-reaching impact on the Greensburg community and have worked to ensure that our students at Pitt-Greensburg gain an appreciation for the importance of community service through programs such as the Greensburg Experience More (GEM),” the chancellor wrote.


Diversity and Inclusion
MacrinaMacrina Chelagat Lelei, acting director of the African studies program in the University Center for International Studies, has been chosen for the 2016 Chancellor’s Staff Award for Diversity and Inclusion. The award was created to recognize a staff member “who has contributed to the University’s diversity initiatives and worked to create a culture of inclusion in their department, business unit or school and the University.”

Lelei, also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education’s Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, is faculty director for the Pitt in Tanzania health, cultural and Swahili language immersion summer study-abroad program.

In his letter to Lelei, the chancellor stated that the awards committee had been impressed by Lelei’s far-reaching impact on students. “Our students who have participated in Study Abroad programs in Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana have returned with expanded views of the world,” Gallagher wrote. “Many of them have been recognized with the highest forms of national and international awards, including Rhodes, Boren and Fulbright scholarships. Moreover, many of those students who have participated have emphasized how these programs have made them kinder and more accepting of others.”


Early Career
ElizabethElizabeth S. Stoyle, graduate administrator in the Dietrich school’s history and sociology departments, has won the early career award.

The award recognizes a staff member with three-five years of experience “who, within that short period of time, has exceeded the expectations of their position, taken on numerous assignments and demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the University.”

Gallagher wrote: “Your nomination package was filled with a number of letters praising your organizational abilities, your professional demeanor and your willingness to step in to assist colleagues in other departments. We are fortunate to have you here at Pitt!”


Institutional Citizenship
MisuracaThomas H. Misuraca, assistant director of Student Life in the Office of Student Affairs, has been selected for the 2016 Chancellor’s Staff Award for Institutional Citizenship.

The award recognizes a staff member who “extends their commitment to the University by serving on committees, working on special projects or volunteering to assist with events or programs outside of the normal work environment.”

In his letter to Misuraca, the chancellor wrote: “There is no doubt that you have had a tremendous impact on the students who have been a part of the Pitt Program Council, helping them to gain professional experience that is essential to their success once they leave campus,” noting as well Misuraca’s role as a driving force behind many events.

“You touch the lives of our students from the minute they arrive on campus for the new student convocation until the day they participate in commencement,” Gallagher wrote. “In between those two very significant events, you work to ensure that our students and University community can enjoy lectures, films and concerts,” the chancellor wrote, citing in particular Misuraca’s close work with Athletics, other departments and the alumni association on Pitt’s annual homecoming celebrations.


JoelleenJoelleen P. Yerace, senior director of constituent relations in the Office of Institutional Advancement, won the 2016 Chancellor’s Staff Award in Mentoring.

The mentoring award was established “to recognize staff members who serve as a role model and mentor to their colleagues, helping them to improve their skills, acclimate to new positions or learn new processes so that they can achieve success in their careers at Pitt.”

In his award letter, the chancellor noted the need for talented, knowledgeable fundraising professionals who are skilled in cultivating and engaging donors. “Those skills can be learned through observing and working with professionals like you,” he wrote. He cited nomination letters from colleagues “attesting to how you nurtured and encouraged them in their own careers, helping them to develop the skills that they needed to become successful fundraisers.

“They spoke of your generosity of your own time to help them get to know the University, your commitment to their achievement and often referred to you as their champion and praised you for leading by example, for offering positive praise and for empowering them to move forward.”


Research Impact
ValentiShannon Valenti, research facilitator in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, has been recognized in the Research Impact category.

The award recognizes a staff member “who has worked to advance the University’s research efforts, including but not limited to conducting research and providing other forms of support.”

“One of the pillars of the University’s strategic plan is to increase the economic impact of our work through technology transfer and commercialization efforts,” Gallagher wrote, citing her efforts to help University researchers streamline their research and speed the translation of their findings to clinical practice.

He cited Valenti’s knowledge of research regulatory issues and her efforts to share that knowledge by developing a research facilitator program and resident problem-based learning discussion.

“You have earned a reputation as a national leader in the field of research regulation, including playing a central role in the development of the regulatory governance of the Accrual to Clinical Trials Network funded by the National Institutes of Health,” Gallagher wrote.


Student Impact
LyleJames Lyle, senior electronics engineer in the Swanson School of Engineering Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been selected for the 2016 Chancellor’s Staff Award in the Student Impact category.

The student impact award recognizes a staff member “whose efforts have helped our students succeed and grow as individuals, contributed to the quality of life for our students, demonstrated consistently excellent customer service, and promoted and supported a culture of diversity and respect on our campuses.”

In his letter, Gallagher noted that Lyle’s work has contributed to the University’s efforts to create an entrepreneurial and innovative culture. The chancellor cited Lyle’s “initiative in designing a presentation and class to teach students basic soldering, a class that has now been incorporated into the Art of Making course,” and Lyle’s work to develop an advanced soldering course. The two classes form the basis for the Student Electronic Resource Center (SERC), which provides students from across the University with the opportunity to develop skills they can use to grow their ideas into a finished project.

Lyle also has developed a course in repurposing, in which students disassemble unwanted or broken printers in order to reuse the parts. “This course has the added benefit of adding parts to the school’s inventory, saving the school a great deal of money in troubleshooting and repairs and contributing to our sustainability efforts by recycling equipment,” the chancellor wrote.


Support and Service to the University
MitchellWill Mitchell, senior manager of custodial services, received the 2016 Chancellor’s Staff Award in Support and Service to the University.

This award was created “to recognize an employee whose work has enhanced the overall quality of life for all members of the community,”

Mitchell heads a staff of 250 cleaners, supervisors and managers on the Pittsburgh campus.

The chancellor said nominators praised Mitchell’s ability to marshal resources to respond to emergencies; his efforts to keep the Pittsburgh campus beautiful; and his leadership in encouraging Facilities Management’s participation in Pitt’s United Way campaign and Day of Caring program.

“However, the leadership role you have assumed in our sustainability efforts underscored the commitment you have made to this campus, to your colleagues and to our students,” the chancellor wrote.

“You have served as educator and role model through programs such as the Student Office for Sustainability, the Student Government Board sustainability committee and Free the Planet, through field trips to recycling facilities.” He noted Mitchell also led student volunteers in retrieving recyclables at numerous locations across campus, including materials left by fans at various sporting events.

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

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