RIT Presidential Awards for Outstanding Staff honor employee service

Staff members recognized for exemplary service, commitment and involvement

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Kari Horowicz and Jeff Cox

RIT honored employees for outstanding service and dedication to the university during its annual Presidential Awards for Outstanding Staff ceremony Oct. 8 in Ingle Auditorium. Awards were presented based upon RIT’s core values: student-centeredness; professional development and learning; integrity and ethics; respect, diversity and pluralism; innovation and flexibility; and teamwork and collaboration. In his remarks during the ceremony, RIT President Bill Destler said, “the recipients are staff who live and work according to the RIT values, and who do so in a no-holds-barred, 110 percent kind of way.”

Staff Excellence Award winners are:

Knycos Ferguson, Resnet Computing Administrator and Desktop Student Support Manager, Information and Technology Services. Ferguson says his motivation comes from the joy of helping students advance in their degree, helping staff members recover lost work, or helping a cherished and not-forgotten retiree understand new technology. According to his nomination form, his accomplishments include reducing staff turnover rates and costs, merging teams, reducing the service ticket queue from 160 to 40, and reducing turnaround time from two weeks to four days. Another colleague stated, “He embodies the RIT value of professional development by taking courses to improve his knowledge of the latest technology and he brings that back to his team to make sure they have what they need to do their jobs successfully.”

• Kathy Carcaci, Manager of Staff Recruiting, Department of Human Resources. According to employees, Carcaci, an RIT employee for 48 years, has helped shape the human resources department into what it is today. Her nomination form states “she is welcoming and provides mentorship to the young men and women that work in the department. Her great sense of humor, kindness and incredible loyalty to RIT are all of what not only makes her an outstanding contributor to the university, but probably one of the most respected and endearing leaders on our campus.”

• The Multicultural Center for Academic Success team: Candice Baldwin, Jonathan Ntheketha, Victoria Romero, Megan Tornow and David Wick. The team—formerly known as the Northstar Center—focuses on family, team, positivity, excellence and moving with a purpose. As a result, the center has tripled the number of student visits in one year. The center also has a student retention rate of more than 90 percent, with students earning a cumulative 3.0 GPA across all programs. The team’s nomination form said, “As individuals, the team members tirelessly advise numerous student organizations, attend multiple AALANA (African American, Latin American, Native American) events on evenings and weekends, stay in touch with students during breaks, and respond to student emergencies. They personally contribute to a book fund for MCAS students who face unexpected financial emergencies. They are also active in the Rochester community as ambassadors for RIT and much-needed visible symbols of excellence, success, community values and hope for the Rochester community.”

• Juanita Jackson, building services supervisor, Facilities Management Services. Jackson, an RIT employee for more than 40 years, works with a team to keep the residence halls clean, safe and as much like home for students as possible. Her nomination form cited: “Juanita has earned the respect of her staff, colleagues and supervisors by being honest, kind and dedicated. She has been described as having a personable and down-to-earth approach that is inclusive and usually results in win-win outcomes for all involved. Juanita acts a second mother to many students, serving as a sounding board and dispensing wise and knowing advice, direction, assurance and comfort to young men and women who find themselves miles from home for the first time in their lives. Every day she focuses on providing student residents with a supportive, comfortable and caring home-like environment that maximizes their chances of academic success.”

The Rising Star Award is presented to a staff member with three years or less of service and who presents progressive examples of high-quality service, has demonstrated a willingness to work collaboratively with colleagues and constituents, and shows imagination, creativity and innovation that embody the RIT spirit. This year’s winner is Nathan Hendrickson, academic adviser, College of Applied Science and Technology. Hendrickson’s nomination cited that he is “driven to help students succeed. In particular, he has an enhanced personal commitment to at-risk students. Because he was once an at-risk student himself, he has a unique way of relating to them, is empathetic to their difficulties, and is driven to go the extra mile to help them. He is very approachable, welcoming, and it seems that in every situation he faces, he is able to keep a level head and always leave all parties smiling. I’ve never seen someone go so far out of their way to help students out.”

The Dancy Duffus Outstanding Citizenship Award recognizes staff members who demonstrate a high degree of excellence, professionalism and integrity. This year’s recipient is Kari Horowicz, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences liaison/librarian, The Wallace Center. According to her nomination form, “Kari is known for her collegiality, compassion, creativity and enthusiasm, as well as her knowledge base. She teaches students how to use the library and, in the classroom, Kari’s passion is contagious; it is felt by every class she teaches.” Horowicz was the driving force behind the Wallace Center Book Mobile program and she also co-developed a pre-orientation program, “Rochester Art Rocks,” which offers interested incoming students an introduction to the Rochester art community. Since 2009, she has also coordinated the READ: Hope in Action program, a partnership between RIT’s Wallace Center and athletics department, and John Williams School No. 5 in the Rochester City School District. Another colleague stated, “Kari maintains standards and professional expectations at a level equal to the very best in her profession. She has demonstrated a commitment to the education of young minds.”

The Isaac L. Jordan Sr. Staff Pluralism Award recognizes a staff member for significant contributions to enhance diversity at RIT. This year’s recipient is Jeff Cox, director of international student services. Cox leads a team of five staff members who serve RIT’s more than 2,300 international students from more than 100 countries. He serves on campus-wide teams such as the President’s Task Force on Global Dimensions and is the current co-chair of the Student Affairs Strategic Planning Team. His nomination form cited: “Jeff’s passion for instilling in every student a sense of appreciation and respect for the differences reflected in our community is evident in his professional and personal efforts to promote RIT as a tolerant and vibrantly diverse university. Students, faculty and staff at RIT depend on Jeff’s wise counsel and expertise in international student immigration issues as well as cultural adjustment. He works to create a welcoming climate for students from around the globe and a learning environment that values and respects diversity.”