University Staff Awards

L&S University Staff Awards honor staff members for their excellence in four areas: effectiveness; innovation, creativity and originality; leadership; and the promotion of the Wisconsin Idea.

2016-17 Recipients

Patrick Brenzel
Faculty Services, Department of Sociology

When Patrick Brenzel feared the Wisconsin Idea was at risk, he responded with bold, innovative action. A mainstay in the Sociology department for years in Faculty Services, he asked, “Why not address the issues fearlessly” and “open the conversation to everyone?”

With a lot of forward thought and careful planning, Brenzel launched “Forward? The Wisconsin Idea, Past and Present” in fall 2016. The course engages students in a conversation with faculty, staff and citizens about how the knowledge produced at the University of Wisconsin has benefitted the public in the past and can continue to do so today. It’s proven to be both successful and inspirational. 

“Patrick’s leadership is what created this course,” says academic department manager Tina Hunter, “and what continues to serve as its backbone.”

Robin Snell
Pay and Benefits Specialist Advanced, Institute for Research on Poverty

While Robin Snell’s job is rooted in payroll and benefits, she serves crucial roles throughout IRP. She’s a careful proofreader, a savvy navigator of complex policies and a diplomatic reminder of deadlines. 

Recently, Snell stepped in to handle the duties of the institute’s contracts and grants manager and administrator while the search began for a replacement. Without her efforts, IRP would not have been able to fulfill its mission, and she continues to help wherever work is needed. 

Says Sylvia Swift, the new university contracts and grants specialist, “She went above and beyond to keep us financially on track during a very difficult time, and she goes above and beyond now to make sure that we treat all employees fairly and live up to our stakeholders’ high expectations.”

Karen Stephens
Coordinator for Organic Chemistry Division, Department of Chemistry

More than 1,000 undergraduates take an organic chemistry course each semester, and recruiting strong graduate students plays a big role in the UW-Madison Chemistry Department continuously ranking among the top ten chemistry departments in the country. 

“There is just one classified staff member whose primary job is to serve the Organic Division, and thank goodness that person is Karen Stephens!” says professor Samuel Gellman. “She is one of the most dedicated, intelligent, proactive and thoughtful staff members I have encountered in my nearly 30 years at UW-Madison.” 

Each year, Stephens coordinates recruitment of Organic Path graduate students, overseeing the travel and on-campus experiences of more than 50 prospective students from around the country (and world). And she helps guide the students who pursue studies here, becoming an essential source of both information and encouragement along the way.

Kerry O’Neill
Shipping and Mail Associate, School of Music

It’s hard to know which of Kerry O’Neill’s talents are most appreciated in the School of Music. Maybe it’s his technical expertise, the way he can fix anything across the school’s eclectic workspaces, or the way he’s constantly on the lookout for programs, processes and procedures that can improve the school. 

Or perhaps it’s his conscientiousness and kindness, exemplified in his friendliness to colleagues and visitors alike and his insistence on hand-delivering mail instead of simply leaving letters and packages in staff mailboxes. 

It’s probably fair to say that all these things make O’Neill an incredible asset to the School of Music. 

“On any given day, Kerry will be moving someone’s furniture, dismantling a display case in the lobby, tightening the screws on someone’s wobbly bookshelf, you name it,” says graduate coordinator James Doing. “Kerry is so willing to help out that we have to be careful not to take advantage of him!”

Tammi Simpson
Department Manager, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

If the Department of Spanish and Portuguese is humming along like never before, it’s in large part due to Tammi Simpson. She’s made it her mission to improve the function and feel of the department and her efforts are paying off.

She’s proven to be a fantastic financial steward and strategic planner, and she’s filled in for positions ranging from financial specialist to IT support. She’s streamlined systems, fostered a positive environment and consistently proven her respect for her colleagues by listening to their concerns and identifying smart solutions. 

Says graduate coordinator Kate Fanis, “Tammi never misses an opportunity to improve a process to make it more efficient and more suited to what we need it to actually do.”

All Recipients


  • Patrick Brenzel, Department of Sociology
  • Robin Snell, Institute for Research on Poverty
  • Karen Stephens, Department of Chemistry
  • Kerry O’Neil, School of Music
  • Tammi Simpson, Department of Spanish & Portuguese


  • James Zernicke, Department of Chemistry
  • Spring Sherrod, Department of English
  • Marjorie Matthews, La Follette School of Public Affairs
  • Wendy Margolis, School of Music
  • Toni Schulze, Department of Sociology


  • Diane Bollant-Peschl, Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies
  • Lora Grant, Department of Philosophy
  • Mathew Martin, Department of Chemistry
  • Cecilia Stodd, Department of Chemistry
  • Daun Wheeler, Letters & Science Administration


  • Carol Cooley, Department of Zoology
  • April Leslie, Department of Chemistry
  • Patricia Winspur, Department of Philosophy
  • Dawn Duren, Institute for Research on Poverty
  • Meenu Verma, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders


  • William Bach, Department of Classics
  • Billy Gates, Department of Physics
  • Ann Harris, Institute for Research in the Humanities
  • Betty Harwood, Department of Chemistry
  • John Koger, Department of Psychology


  • Mary Czynszak-Lyne, L&S Honors Program
  • Rosana Perez-Ellman, Department of Chemistry
  • Dolores Liamba, Department of Afro-American Studies
  • Kathleen (Kat) Myhre, Department of Chemistry
  • Ed Vasiukevicius, Department of Chemistry


  • Kristi Heming, Department of Chemistry
  • Christy Horstmeyer, Department of Philosophy
  • Angela Powell, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia
  • Vicki Sekel, Social Science Research Services
  • David Harring, Center for Limnology


  • Bruce Goldade, Department of Chemistry
  • Tom Ladell, Department of Chemistry
  • Andrea Palm, Department of French & Italian
  • Jerry Stamn, Department of Chemistry
  • Karen Turino, Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions


  • Mary Beth Ellis, Department of Economics
  • Susan Grass, Department of French & Italian
  • Susan Fenton, Religious Studies Program
  • Brian Karas, Department of Chemistry
  • Dianne Mitchell, Department of Chemistry


  • Susan Barthel, Student Academic Affairs
  • Susan Cory, L&S Copy Centers
  • Shelley Glodowski, Department of Philosophy 
  • Robin Shanahan, Department of English
  • Terry Maggio, Department of English


  • Laura Anderson, Student Academic Affairs
  • Margarette Erdman, Department of Anthropology
  • Roberta Ostrander, Department of Chemistry
  • Michael Pecore, Center for Limnology
  • Mehdi Rezai, L&S Administration


  • Cheryl Arn, Department of French & Italian
  • Mary Barber, Department of English
  • Ron Brockman, Cross-College Advising Services
  • Jefferson Burkett, Department of Chemistry
  • Jane Williams, Department of History


  • Phyllis Fass, Department of Astronomy
  • Arnold Gudel, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  • Gail Johnson, School of Music
  • Anita Lightfoot, Department of Jewish Studies
  • Sue Martin-Zernicke, Department of Chemistry

Nominate a great university staff member.

For more information about University Staff Awards, please contact Diana Allaby.