Exemplars of excellence
The Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award honors those who serve the campus so well
| 08 November 2006
Each year the Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award (COSA) is presented to individual staff members and teams whose contributions toward the university's mission of teaching, research, and public service have been noteworthy and significant. Established and administered by the Chancellor's Staff Advisory Committee (csac.chance.berkeley.edu), the award is among the highest honors for staff members. This year, 34 individuals and 4 teams were slated to receive COSAs in a ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
The Berkeleyan here highlights nine of this year's recipients, quoting extensively from the nomination materials submitted to CSAC. We've chosen these folks not because they stand apart somehow from their co-honorees, but because they illustrate both the campuswide reach of the awards and the variety of services all of this year's recipients - indeed, each year's recipients - provide to their peers, colleagues, and the campus community.
Judie Welch, Mathematics
Everyone in Berkeley's Math Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) knows they can count on Judie Welch, writes nominator Mary Pepple. Welch, one of the project's administrative assistants, is "truly reliable, professional, and trustworthy," says Pepple. "Through her actions, she has shown all her peers that people come first."
The project works with 1,300 teachers. Welch "not only clarifies doubts and answers questions from teachers but can also detect problems or misconceptions they may have about the project. She will then initiate further conversations and offer advice," writes Pepple.
Last year, even when MDTP introduced a new test (while also renovating its equipment), Welch increased the number of tests she scored. She spearheaded modernizing the project's mail by setting up and learning to use an online UPS account, "another instance of her resourcefulness and ability to take initiative." Welch's can-do attitude extends to duties beyond her purview: She helps with purchase orders when key personnel are absent, volunteers on the Evans Hall safety committee (and is in charge of evacuating her floor in an emergency), and helps with departmental special events. "Her contributions to the math department make it a better place for everyone," writes Pepple.
Quincy Joe, Physical Plant - Campus Services
Lai Ahoy nominated fellow stationary engineer Quincy Joe for the Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award, then gathered the signatures of 67 people, both within Physical Plant - Campus Services and across campus, who also admire his colleague.
Joe addresses many of the invisible elements of Berkeley's physical plant that campus denizens take for granted, such as a building's air-quality and heating systems. He has established valuable relationships with building coordinators, who "trust his ability and rely on his practical skills to resolve their need for a safe and comfortable environment," writes Ahoy. His PP-CS co-workers, meanwhile, "look upon him as a resource to [help them] pilot through projects." By offering advice and providing knowledge on matters such as temperature control and energy management, Joe "has earned . . . respect through hard work, diligence, and earnest efforts to make Berkeley a better place."
Donna Craig, Mechanical Engineering
As vice-chair of graduate study in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Kameshwar Poola interacted with Donna Craig on a daily basis and observed her "dedication, diligence, and interpersonal skills." A student-affairs officer, Craig coordinates the department's undergraduate and graduate programs and oversees its student services. Her commitment to students extends "far beyond the call of duty," writes Poola, who during his three years as vice-chair saw Craig helping students in her office well after 5 p.m. on many occasions. Craig treats students "with humanity as individuals, and thinks of them as our customers," he notes.
In turn, Craig has earned the students' respect. She has also been "extremely valuable" as the department's liaison to the College of Engineering, both in awarding and administering diversity fellowships and recruiting diverse students and helping get them off to a good start at Berkeley. She regularly goes the extra mile, whether it means writing and updating mechanical engineering's graduate-student handbook or working overtime for several days when one of her staff left on medical leave during the busy time of processing admissions applications.
Craig's "work ethic, dedication, and creativity bring greater efficiencies together with a personal touch to all aspects of our department," writes Poola.
Anthony Brennan, Institute of Transportation Studies
(Photo courtesy Anthony Brennan)
The multimillion-dollar program, a partnership between UC and the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), "has seemed on the brink of dissolution on a few occasions," writes nominator Steven Campbell, assistant director of ITS. Brennan's advocacy for PATH and its projects at CalTrans' Sacramento headquarters helped sustain the program.
"I have never worked with anyone who has invested so much of their own time, energy, and heart into the continued success of an enterprise that was not their own," continues Campbell. Brennan, who is on leave due to serious health problems, both mentored his staff and sought training and other development opportunities that would help his team members advance their careers. Brennan, writes Campbell, "has served as an inspiration" to many staffers at ITS and PATH, not just as an able administrator but as "someone with a true moral compass who could always be counted on to keep you honest."
Andre Porter, UC Berkeley Retirement Center
Porter, who came to the center when many of its programs were just beginning, has helped "hone, nurture, and further develop them during his tenure," playing a key role in the center's Learning in Retirement program and its Cal Retirement Center Network (e-mail and Internet connection for retirees). Porter took on teaching the center's basic computer classes to retirees, many of whom had been instructors for their entire careers. His students so appreciated his teaching skills that they asked him to develop intermediate and advanced classes. His dedication has led him to volunteer time on weekends to help retirees with more challenging technical issues.
Porter, writes Glazer, "is always consistent and gives his all with great generosity of spirit, good humor, and deep commitment."
Richard Battrick, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management
Battrick has made himself an invaluable resource in his five years at ESPM, having "mastered the areas of interest of nearly all of the 80 faculty members, the courses offered to students each semester, and indeed the names and faces of each of the 200 graduate students," his nominators say. More than one student said that meeting Battrick was an inducement to attend Berkeley, because he made an immediate positive impression with his "warmth, extreme helpfulness, and genuineness" during the application process.
Students frequently line up to see the adviser, who keeps a bowl of candy on his desk for his visitors, welcoming them with "his reassuring smile and his entire persona, one ideally suited for calming even the most distressed graduate student panicked over a late registration fee or a missing letter in their dissertation."
Judi Chan, Economics
Four assistant professors nominated Judi Chan, an administrator who has an uncanny ability to anticipate the needs of the faculty members she supports. "With her never-ending friendliness, kind smile, amazing work pace, and profound competence, she is truly a shining role model for everybody in the department," including faculty, writes Ulrike Malmendier. "Whenever I see her, I push myself to be as friendly, focused, and helpful to everybody as she is."
David Ahn is also a fan: "What is most striking to me is that I have no doubts that I don't even appreciate most of what she has done for me." At the beginning of the semester, Ahn writes, he posts nearly illegible handwritten notes outside his door for his students. When one of his colleagues commented on how "uncharacteristically neat and organized" his signs appeared, he realized Chan had cleaned up his scribbles.
Stefano DellaVigna, also an assistant professor, realized during his commute that he had forgotten to send Chan the files she needed to produce transparencies and handouts for his morning's lecture. Chan was waiting for him when he arrived, asked him to forward the files, and then, 20 minutes into class, delivered the materials - "a gesture of respect to the students and a kindness to me," he writes.
La Dawn Duvall, Visitor Services, Public Affairs
La Dawn Duvall took over as director of the campus's Visitor Services two and a half years ago. "Her leadership and innovations have led to marked improvements in every aspect of Visitor Services," writes Dan Mogulof, Public Affairs' executive director. She has enhanced the office's customer service and implemented new ways to showcase the excellence of Berkeley, including podcast campus tours, an online tour-reservation system for school groups, and a class pass allowing prospective students and their families to audit first-year lectures during their campus visits.
Mogulof drew on comments of Duvall's previous and current student employees in preparing her nomination; all noted "her ability to maintain her authority with student tour guides and professional staff without compromising her capacity to reach out as a friend." Students especially appreciate that Duvall gives them the opportunity to grow and challenge themselves through the Leadership Team, a group of guides who take on special projects, such as managing a large-scale event or organizing tour-guide participation on Cal Day. Duvall provides guidance without handholding, allowing students to gain problem-solving skills on their own.
Says Mogulof: "That combination of vision, leadership, and trust sets La Dawn apart from the crowd."
Imani Abalos, Doe/Moffitt Libraries
Imani Abalos began her career with the Library in 1969 as a clerical assistant. Today she manages Reference Services for Doe and Moffitt Libraries, overseeing 30 librarians and librarian assistants who provide reference services to thousands of users of the libraries each day. "She is a beacon of hope for many younger employees of the university, who see in her example tangible proof that dedication, collegiality, and just plain hard work can produce remarkable outcomes over the span of a career," writes nominator James Spohrer, librarian for the Germanic Collections.
Through Abalos' "emotional and practical encouragement," many of her staff have expanded their skills, taken on new responsibilities, and gone on to distinguish themselves in other campus units. Her recent accomplishments drew plaudits from Spohrer: In 2005, Abalos was asked to lead the newly reorganized Doe/Moffitt Reference Services unit; since then she has "established trust and harmony among its very diverse (and diversely motivated) staff members."
In May she took on additional responsibilities as interim head of Doe/Moffitt Circulation Services, and used the opportunity to alter outmoded circulation policies and procedures. With characteristic skill, Abalos has "dramatically improved the morale, motivation, and effectiveness" of the unit's eight staff, "laying the foundation for Circulation Services' long-term success."
Photos by Deborah Stalford, except where noted