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February 3, 2005

Staff Members Selected Winners of Annual Chancellor Awards

Winners of the chancellor’s awards of excellence for staff were announced last week in two categories, staff excellence in service to the community and staff excellence in service to the University.

The service awards, open to all classified and union full- and part-time staff members who have been employed at the University for at least five years, are the highest awards that Pitt grants to staff members. Up to five honorees are named annually in each category.

The community service excellence award honors staff members whose commitment and effort have made an impact on the community and for dedication to improve the quality of life for others.

Winners of the chancellor’s community service award are Richard R. Colwell, Delia A. Kreiling, Curtis Smith, Marsha Washington and Robb R. Wilson.

The University service excellence award recognizes individuals whose performance consistently exceeds standards and expectations set for their staff position.

Winners of this year’s University service award are Susan L. Crain, Lawrence W. Herman, Eileen L. O’Malley, Barbara L. Porter and Bryan M. Valentine.

The awards carry a $2,500 cash prize and recognition at Pitt’s annual honors convocation, to be held this year on Feb. 28. Winners’ names also will be inscribed on a plaque in the William Pitt Union.

A selection committee, chaired by Jane W. Thompson, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Budget and Controller, recommended candidates for the awards to the chancellor based on supporting materials provided by nominators.

Information on the award winners was provided by the Office of the Chancellor.


Chancellor’s Excellence in Service to the Community Award Richard R. Colwell, manager of computer services in the School of Engineering, was recognized by the selection committee for volunteer service to the community extending from the western Pennsylvania region to Florida and across the ocean to South Africa.

As communication coordinator for the Salvation Army emergency radio team, Colwell devotes more than 200 hours of service to the organization each year, including last fall spending two weeks assisting Florida residents following Hurricane Ivan. (See Sept. 16 University Times.)

Colwell also has helped Peace Corps volunteers in South Africa design a web-based computer lab.

Locally, Colwell has served as president of the Greater Pittsburgh VHF Amateur Radio Society for 25 years, providing Allegheny and Westmoreland counties with supplementary communication for public service events and emergencies.

He also assists Allegheny County’s 911 emergency services with maintaining radios and antennas and helps their staff during regional emergencies, such as the September floods caused by Hurricane Ivan.

In addition, Colwell provides computer and technical expertise to the Pittsburgh Opera Theater.

In his role as computer services manager, Colwell provides support to the engineering school’s IMPACT program, which recruits, retains and helps underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students graduate, and to the school’s outreach programs to students in kindergarten through grade 12.

The nominating committee also cited Colwell’s contributions to cost-savings associated with the design and construction of new classrooms and labs at the engineering school.

Colwell has served on the Staff Association Council for more than 19 years, including two terms as president.

Delia (Dee) A. Kreiling began her career at Pitt 38 years ago as a clerk in the Office of the Registrar, where – after several promotions – she now serves as coordinator of veterans services. In that capacity, Kreiling oversees the operations of the veterans services programs.

Her commitment to assisting veterans and their families extends beyond her workday, however, the selection committee noted. Kreiling has logged more than 2,500 hours in service to organizations such as the American Veterans (AMVETS). She has served in many roles for AMVETS, an organization dedicated to supporting veterans and their families, including:

* President of the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary Post 60, where she oversaw a drive resulting in a 10-fold increase in membership.

* Sergeant-at-arms of the National AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary.

* Past department president and current legislative liaison for the Pennsylvania chapter of the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary. * Member of the National AMVETS Committee for Homeless Veterans in Pennsylvania.

* Fundraising leader for the local AMVETS “Sharing and Caring” program to benefit hospitalized veterans, where she helped raise more than $6,000.

* Organizer for the local AMVETS boat ride for disabled veterans.

In addition to her work with AMVETS, Kreiling spearheaded a collection of more than 4,100 pairs of shoes in a “shoes for the needy” program. She also organizes food drives to create holiday grocery baskets for needy families at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

The selection committee also noted that Kreiling received two Patriotic Employer Award certificates from the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve in recognition of her contribution to national security through her support of employees in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force.

A 25-year veteran of the University Police Department, Curtis Smith is well known around campus for his devotion to fitness and martial arts.

In addition to his duties as a campus police officer, Smith serves as an instructor in the Department of Health, Physical and Recreational Education, the kinder kinetics program and the national youth sports program. He also serves as adviser to the East-West Martial Arts Club.

Smith has a long history of community service, the selection committee noted, including serving as a member of the board of the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, teaching fitness and self-defense as a volunteer instructor at the Kingsley Association and promoting health awareness and behavior at Pitt and in the community through the University’s wellness program.

Smith also is a volunteer instructor in paramedic training at the annual Pennsylvania state basic trauma life support conference, and coaches in the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletics League.

Smith has published three books on BYAM (“buy yourself a minute”), the self-defense method he developed. He has given numerous free presentations on BYAM on campus and in the community through the YMCA and Carlow University.

A former Pitt Panthers football player, Smith has received numerous awards in martial arts and physical fitness, including the City of Pittsburgh Life Time Achievement Award for Training in Law Enforcement. He was nominated for both the chancellor’s community service and University service awards.

Marsha Washington joined the Pitt staff 25 years ago as a receptionist in the Office of Human Resources and now serves as manager of financial services for the School of Information Sciences.

Washington has assisted in various projects of the Pitt Volunteer Pool, including Project Bundle Up, the Pittsburgh Marathon and Global Links, an international aid organization that collects and repackages surplus medical supplies for distribution to needy countries worldwide.

She also serves the community through her work at the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her projects there include * Organizing recreation nights and planning programs to recognize outstanding academic achievements of the youth in her community.

* Raising more than $30,000 for the young people’s and children’s divisions develop service programs and to send young people to out-of-state retreats and conferences.

* Spearheading an “adopt a grandparent” program at the Lemington Home for the Aged.

* Sponsoring a food and clothing bank for disadvantaged families.

* Providing transportation and organizing shopping trips for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

Washington also volunteers for the East End Cooperative Ministries, tutoring second and third grade students in math and spelling and sponsoring high school students under the “take our daughter to work” program.

She serves as a volunteer instructor for the “Centers for Healthy Hearts and Souls,” a partnership of the Pittsburgh Foundation, UPMC Shadyside, Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield and African-American churches. The program helps raise awareness of heart disease and diabetes in the African-American community.

Washington also serves as a member of the executive board of the Pittsburgh Conference Women’s Missionary Society, an organization comprising 65 churches in western Pennsylvania.

Robb R. Wilson joined the Pitt staff in 1984 and currently works in the School of Medicine as a research specialist in the laboratory for systems implementations and evaluation at the Center for Biomedical Informatics.

Wilson’s service to the community is rooted in his deep, personal commitment to finding a cure for diabetes, the selection committee noted.

Wilson, who developed Type I juvenile diabetes as a young child, has been an active volunteer with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for 15 years. He was a founding member of the Allegheny chapter of the ADA and has served as the chapter’s vice president.

In addition, he organized the first fundraising walk for the Allegheny ADA chapter, and continues to serve as captain of one of the largest teams each year. Through his efforts, Wilson has raised more than $25,000 for ADA.

Wilson also is one of the organizers of the Allegheny chapter’s Tour de Cure, a cycling event held to raise funds for ADA; the Diabetes Expo, an interactive health fair and trade show for people living with diabetes, and “A Knight of Inspiration,” ADA’s annual fundraising gala.

Despite complications from diabetes that included renal failure followed by a kidney/pancreas transplant, Wilson continues to volunteer his services. Following his surgery, he founded the Pittsburgh East support group of the National Kidney Foundation.

His work with the National Kidney Foundation includes:

* Providing phone support to any patient needing assistance.

* Organizing bi-monthly meetings for the support group.

* Finding knowledgeable speakers and resources for support group events.

* Designing a patient brochure.

* Establishing a networking community for patients and their families.

* Competing on Team Pittsburgh in the 2004 U.S. Transplant Games. The selection committee noted that Wilson still was able to lead his team in the annual ADA fundraising walk and achieve his fundraising goals following bypass surgery in 2003.


Chancellor’s Excellence in Service to the University Award Susan L. Crain began her career at the University 25 years ago as a work-study student. After earning a degree, Crain joined the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences where she serves as director of student records. As director, Crain is responsible for certifying students for graduation, maintaining academic records, evaluating transfer credits and other responsibilities that impact Pitt students on a daily basis.

According to the selection committee, Crain is known for her devotion to the University and its students, regularly coming in early and staying late. She often works from home and volunteers to assist with many Arts and Sciences undergraduate functions such as graduation and the sophomore recognition reception.

In addition to her regular duties, Crain recently served as special assistant to the associate dean and is an ad hoc consultant to the PeopleSoft conversion team, which develops systems for student record keeping.

Crain also has assisted in updating the hard copy and on-line versions of Pitt’s undergraduate bulletins, the committee noted.

Lawrence W. Herman has been employed at Pitt for 35 years, joining the School of Engineering as a technician in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves as engineering’s shop supervisor.

The selection committee commended Herman for consistently going above and beyond his job responsibilities; extraordinary creativity; saving research contracts through cost awareness; assisting students and researchers with projects or problems, and working evenings and weekends to ensure completion of projects.

The committee noted that improvements in the engineering shops since Herman became shop supervisor have led to increased work capacity and greater cost efficiency without additional personnel.

Schohn Shannon, assistant dean at the engineering school and Herman’s supervisor, credits Herman with being “an invaluable component of teaching graduate students how to do research.”

Eileen L. O’Malley has been on staff at Pitt for 16 years, the last 10 of which have been at the Center for Russian and East European Studies (REES) in the University Center for International Studies (UCIS).

O’Malley started her career with UCIS as secretary to the assistant director of the REES center, and currently holds the position of assistant director there.

O’Malley is being recognized for her innovative approaches to staff assignments, for proposing equipment purchases and efficiencies that have reduced the center’s operating costs and for developing a budgeting system and format for complicated grants associated with foreign institutions. That system has been adopted by other UCIS units and lauded as a model by the U.S. State Department’s Educational and Cultural Affairs Division, the selection committee noted.

O’Malley has served on numerous Pitt committees and as a United Way campaign coordinator. In addition, O’Malley served as registrar for the Semester-at-Sea program during the summer 2000 and fall 2003 voyages.

The selection committee also noted O’Malley’s dedication to the students enrolled at UCIS, driving them to out-of-state academic events, accompanying international visitors on excursions around Pittsburgh, helping students move into apartments and assisting them with securing day-to-day necessities, all on her own time.

When a 21-year-old Bulgarian student from Bosnia became seriously ill, O’Malley organized a support group, facilitated communication with the student’s family in Bosnia and raised funds to bring the student’s mother to Pittsburgh during her recovery.

As noted by Robert M. Hayden, director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies, O’Malley efforts beyond her job responsibilities “showed Pitt at its best.”

Barbara L. Porter joined the University’s staff 35 years ago as a teacher-counselor in the University community educational programs (now called the University challenge for excellence program), rising to assistant director of UCEP.

In 1978, she joined the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) as assistant to the dean. In 1997, she was named assistant dean and director of student services at GSPIA.

At UCEP, Porter made many changes that are considered vital to the of the program’s operations and that continue to benefit students, the selection committee noted. She continues to reach out to students by working as a research mentor for the science and mathematics program at Westinghouse High School.

As director of student services at GSPIA, Porter reorganized that unit’s service functions, streamlining the admissions process. In the day-to-day operations of GSPIA’s student services, Porter has instilled the principles of customer service and “putting students first, always.”

The selection committee also commended Porter for her personal commitment to making GSPIA’s students feel welcome, noting that at Thanksgiving Porter and her husband invite students who cannot return to their homes or who have never experienced Thanksgiving to join them for dinner.

Porter serves on numerous University committees, including the executive board of Equipoise.

The selection committee noted Porter’s commitment to diversity in GSPIA and throughout the University. Porter also is an active member of Pitt’s African American Alumni Association. She was nominated for both the chancellor’s community and University service awards.

Bryan M. Valentine has worked at Pitt’s Greensburg campus for nine years, beginning his career as a night desk attendant. He currently serves as director of housing and residence life. In that position, Valentine oversees 12 residence halls serving 600 students. The selection committee cited Valentine for numerous initiatives and activities in UPG’s Office of Housing and Residence Life, including: * Implementing a web page for the office that offers an on-line application and contract form.

* Compiling data on all resident students’ assessments of their housing experience.

* Developing a resident assessment training program.

In addition, the selection committee noted Valentine’s campus-wide activities, including:

* Initiating programs to recognize staff for outstanding service.

* Promoting an “outdoor adventure and community service” housing unit for students who share both an interest in outdoor recreation and service to others.

* Volunteering to assist UPG staff in developing departmental web pages.

* Acting as co-adviser to the UPG Student Government Association spring carnival and student homecoming committees.

* Attending the National Training for Intervention Procedures and helping train staff in intervention methods.

* Presenting leadership workshops both on and off campus.

* Coordinating a faculty/staff softball team to improve relationships with local media and law enforcement agencies.

* Inspiring a culture of volunteerism by encouraging students to join him in numerous service projects.

* Founding the UPG chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity.

* Coordinating the support and contribution of UPG to numerous community service projects.

* Serving as vice president of the UPG Staff Association.

-Peter Hart

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