RIT Presidential Awards for Outstanding Staff honor employee service

Staff members recognized for exemplary service, commitment and involvement

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College of Science Staff Advisory Council

RIT honored employees for outstanding service and dedication to the university during its annual Presidential Awards for Outstanding Staff ceremony. Awards, presented Oct. 19 in Ingle Auditorium, were given based on outstanding contributions to RIT, earning the respect of colleagues, exhibiting a high degree of personal ethics and integrity and consistently demonstrating a strong commitment to student success.

Excellence Award winners are:

Lorrie Jo Turner, senior staff specialist, Graduate Studies and Research, B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. According to her nomination form, Turner “showcases three distinguishing traits of outstanding staff: independence, acting proactively and the ability to handle unexpected situations.” She is also “proactive in improving processes and worked to set up an electronic system for review of doctoral candidates’ applications, a dramatic improvement over the former hard copy system.” Another nominator stated that, “Lorrie Jo is passionate about our students, knowledgeable and skillful, efficient and effective, independent and proactive, caring and thorough. She has made significant contributions to provide the environment and support for faculty and student research, teaching and service in our Ph.D. program.”

Public Safety 2nd Platoon: Officers Jake Griffin and Matteo Martusciello, and Sgt. Adam Liesegang. Serving several roles in addition to their field officer duties, the team goes above and beyond by offering sessions to students on topics such as crime prevention, personal safety, winter driving and fraud prevention. Over the past year, the team has presented 81 of these programs, reaching more than 4,000 students. Last fall, the team was instrumental in resuscitating an unresponsive person on campus prior to the arrival of emergency medical services personnel. Said one nominator: “Not content to just do their jobs, they look for ways to make the RIT community better.”

Access Services Diversity Outreach Committee: Angela Hauser, Denise Herrera, Daron Ladson, Kristi Love-Cooper. According to one nomination, “the committee has worked to reach out to ALANA individuals, both deaf and hearing, to interest them in working or studying at RIT/NTID. These individuals have demonstrated outstanding teamwork and commitment to the department, the field of interpreting, NTID’s interpreting education program, and RIT.” Another nomination stated, “The team also works to foster cultural competency regarding diversity issues within Access Services, and to promote a welcoming environment for deaf students of color. In particular, they all willingly work flexible hours—during the weekdays, evenings and weekends—to provide support for deaf and hard-of-hearing RIT student groups as well as events such as convocation, commencement, Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend and Imagine RIT.” In addition to their regular work responsibilities, they also led a 15-week small-group training program to mentor colleagues who are not interpreters of color.

Stacy Nation-Knapper, assistant director, Academic Support Center. One nominator said, “I have never seen a staff member be so instrumental in changing the culture of a department and program so quickly as Stacy Nation-Knapper. When Stacy was hired as the assistant director just over a year ago, she immediately brought a sense of energy and warmth to the Academic Support Center. Through her authentic approach to every person and task she encounters, she role-models thinking thoughtfully, speaking honestly and acting creatively.”

In addition, “she fosters collaboration within the department as well as across the university. Always mindful of our roles and responsibilities, she looks for ways for us to enhance our gifts and desires to serve our students better within the department. She has been an enthusiastic advocate for the programs she serves, from supporting and refining seasoned programs, to supporting the development of our newest initiatives. This past year she worked closely with her team to create and implement our new physics program.”

College of Science Staff Advisory Council: Valerie Hemink, Cari Hindman, Jennifer Liedkie, Jane McGowen, Jessica Small and Melanie Warren. The College of Science Staff Advisory Council provides a forum in which staff from diverse areas within the college can share their experiences and skills with one another. They look for ways to welcome new staff, share best practices and support one another through staff retreats, teambuilding opportunities and recognition and social events. One nominator stated, “The one word that comes to mind when I think of this group is ‘advocate.’ The initiatives they have spearheaded have significantly contributed to staff satisfaction; College of Science staff are participating in events designed specifically for them, based on their feedback to the council.”

The Isaac L. Jordan Sr. Staff Pluralism Award recognizes a staff member who demonstrates passion and commitment to spreading the goals of diversity and pluralism across our campus and into the greater community. This year’s recipient is Venessa Mitchell, director of engineering diversity, Office of the Dean, Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Mitchell helped form the Engineers of Color Creating Opportunity Center. She took on the role of director as an add-on to her role as the administrative and financial services coordinator for the mechanical engineering department. One nominator said, “In the past two years, she has established a series of signature events to recruit and retain AALANA students in RIT’s engineering programs. One event—an overnight program for accepted high school students— nearly doubled in size from 2016 to 2017.” Another of Mitchell’s nominators said, “Venessa is a creative spirit who is always finding ways to make a difference in the lives of students.”

The Dancy Duffus Award for Outstanding Citizenship recognizes staff members who demonstrate creativity and innovation, imagination and integrity that embodies the RIT spirit. This year’s recipient is Catherine Mahrt-Washington, assistant dean, College of Science. One student said, “the unmistakable passion she has for her job and her explicit desire to get to know each and every one of us inspired me to do more than just go to class, get good grades and graduate. I wanted to make a difference on campus, and I wanted to make a difference that Catherine could be proud of. There are few people in the world with the same drive, dedication and compassion as Catherine Mahrt-Washington. She is an inspiration to every student who steps foot into Thomas Gosnell Hall and the person who will fight for your needs, no matter how busy her schedule might be. She is my assistant dean, my ‘college mom’ and my role model.”

For more information on the awards, go to the RIT Staff Council website at www.rit.edu/staffcouncil/awards.