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Golden Bear PinStaffers Honored with Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Awards Oct. 23

by Sunny Merik, Public Affairs
posted October 28, 1998

If there is one theme uniting the 11 individuals and three work teams who received Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Awards this year, it is that of community service. From on-campus programs to off-campus services, the honored staff stand as role models of creativity, concern and compassion.

"The quality of the work of the staff on this campus is truly remarkable," said Chancellor Robert Berdahl at the Oct. 23 Alumni House ceremony honoring the award winners. "Today's recipients have made outstanding contributions in support of research, teaching and the public service mission of this campus. The letters nominating them for today's award used phrases such as 'unstoppable determination,' 'profound commitment,' 'kind and beloved,' and 'unwavering dedication' to describe these staff members.

"As we honor these special people and outstanding staff, I want to thank those who recognized their exceptional efforts and took the time to nominate them.

"I offer congratulations to today's winners, thanks to the nominators, and profound gratitude to all the staff who make Berkeley the university it is."

This year, 62 individuals and 17 work teams were nominated for the award, the most prestigious staff award from the Chancellor. All recipients were described as dedicated employees whose professional efforts far exceeded job requirements.

Following are the recipients and a brief description of their community service endeavors, taken from their nomination letters:

Al Bliss
Staff Research Associate III
School of Optometry

Bliss frequently puts in long hours to ensure that patients receive the best care and spectacles from our Eye Center. He also became a fixture in the field team that provides vision care to Native Americans in Lake County.

Mark Cassettari
Senior Building Maintenance Worker
International House

Cassettari is a professional magician and for two years performed at the annual International House tree trimming party for the staff and their children. He performed for the Black Faculty and Staff Organization annual Christmas party for underprivileged children.

Joan Chamberlain
Administrative Assistant II
School of Social Welfare

Chamberlain undertook the creation of data and web-based systems to automate the volunteer service process (a program providing more than 200,000 hours of supervised volunteer service by the school's master's students). She alternately reassured and prodded computer-unfriendly faculty in order to obtain the necessary information.

Chris Colbert
Principal Word Processing Specialist
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Colbert works untiringly to improve the working environment for our staff. She suggested a departmental arts and crafts exhibit to increase faculty-staff camaraderie. The event is now a department tradition. She suggested an extensive survey of staff views on the work environment and helped develop the survey and distill the results.

Tim Hoyer
Library Assistant 5
The Bancroft Library

Hoyer conceived and managed a plan to accomplish a retrospective conversion of the Bancroft's entire card file of printed materials. He was a forceful advocate for the special needs of Bancroft's cataloging as it merged into the general library's online cataloging system.

John Matsui
Student Affairs Officer 5
Biology Scholars Program

The Biology Scholars Program was designed and has been implemented entirely by Matsui. The program, originally designed to recruit 50 students, now has more than 350, and has graduated over 100 students who reflect the diversity of the campus. The program he created provides undergraduates with a sense of belonging.

Barbara Pottgen
Senior Analyst
University Health Services

Pottgen worked shoulder to shoulder with the campus occupational health physician to research, develop and write the current campus illness and injury prevention ergonomics guidelines. She developed an ergonomic training program for the campus and developed training for several hundred department ergonomic evaluators.

Alan Stangenberger
Programmer/Analyst III
Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Stangenberger has become the human face of kindness, humility and collegiality in our work place. More than 40 people from his department nominated him. He works hard to solve problems for faculty and staff -- whether the problem concerns the phones, lights, water or nonfunctioning equipment.

Phyllis Tajbakhsh
Administrative Specialist
Energy and Resources Group

Tajbakhsh makes time to participate in a SHARE-the-CARE program, working with others to help people suffering stress or trauma. She is currently helping a cancer patient who has two young children. She also started a parenting resources group in her neighborhood to provide parenting resources to those who need them.

Sue Thur
Management Services Officer II
Department of Sociology

Thur created the Managers and Supervisors Support Group. She helped initiate the "fastmail" project. Brilliantly and with grace she manages to include each staff member in the decision-making process, eliciting the strength and talent of each individual in shaping a decision that carries the support and input of the group.

Kathleen Valerio
Customer Service Manager
Haas Computing Services

Valerio willingly donates her time, talents and energy to a variety of organizations both on and off campus. She spends hundreds of hours each year in campus activities and volunteering for staff committees and health organizations.

The Domestic Partnership Team
Team members: Jon Bain, Debi Fidler, Rondi Gilbert, Jessea Greenman, Pat Hull, Arthur Mahoney, Catherine Romero, Charlotte Rubens, Janet Villaneuva, John Winters

Thanks to the vision, organizational acumen, reasoned analyses and persistence, this team persuaded enough Regents to support a policy change so that today the university offers domestic partner benefits to faculty and staff.

Summer Session Financial Aid Web-Estimator Team
Team members: Tizhong Ba, Gregg Bartle, Lu Benavidez-Heaster, Caprice Elias, Adrienne Fong, Bob Melhuish, Tuan Nguyen, Corazon Sillers, John Trimingham

In 1994, Summer Sessions and the Financial Aid Office provided 573 needy students with $700,000 in financial aid. In 1998, 2,251 students received $4.1 million in summer financial aid. Through enhanced information management, students received a financial aid offer letter on the day they applied. The team re-engineered a two-hour process into one that took about 20 minutes using the web.

Berkeley Pledge Coordinating Council
Team members: Gloria Burkhalter-Simmons, Carolyn Hall-Gaertner, Karen Rice, Roberto Rivera, Yvonne White

The team marshaled campus alumni, students and staff to serve in Berkeley Pledge recruitment efforts throughout the state, coordinated nearly 30 campus student summer outreach programs, coordinated 80 academic support service and enrichment programs, increased employment and scholarship opportunities for Berkeley undergraduates, and launched the "America Read Challenge" on campus.

In addition to Berdahl's remarks, congratulatory statements were delivered by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ, Vice Chancellor Joseph Cerny, Assistant Vice Chancellor Barbara Davis, Manager Debra Harrington and Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell.

The Chancellor's Staff Advisory Committee (CSAC) administers the awards program and makes recommendations on selections. CSAC Chair, Keiko Kubo, commented on the outstanding quality of this year's nominees and about the important role staff play within the university.

For information on the Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award, check the web site


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