Celebrating Excellence: 2016 L&S Staff Awards

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On May 12, Dean Karl Scholz granted three sets of awards that recognized and celebrated the excellence of university staff, as well as academic staff and our faculty and staff advisors.

University Staff Awards

Five colleagues in the University Staff were honored for their excellence in four areas: effectiveness; innovation, creativity and originality; leadership; and the promotion of the Wisconsin Idea.

Wendy Margolis, UW Marching Band Administrative Coordinator in the School of Music

From re-organizing and streamlining the procedure for High School Band Day in which 3,000 Wisconsin high school students come to our campus, to increasing the band department’s contact with donors through the Band Donor Day Dinner, Wendy has been a self-motivated and success-oriented colleague, as well as a caring individual, serving on the L&S Climate Committee and other campus committees.

Says Director of Bands and Professor of Music Michael Leckrone: “Perhaps the most valuable trait Wendy demonstrates is her ability to anticipate and solve problems, and to make decisions that are invaluable in the best interest of the band and the university.”

Marjorie Matthews, University Services Associate II in the Robert M LaFollette School of Public Affairs

Marjorie is most people’s first contact with the LaFollette School, and her colleagues say they could not ask for a more welcoming representative. She has increased efficiency and decreased frustration (always a winning strategy!)

Another thing colleagues admire about Marjorie is her altruistic personality. She is a volunteer teacher and tutor at the Literacy Network. She has also been dedicated to fostering and supporting diversity on campus.

“Marjorie takes the lead eagerly and is always willing to chip in, above and beyond the expected duties of her position,” says Associate Director Hilary Shager.

Toni Schulze, Financial Specialist Senior in the Department of Sociology

For 35 years, Toni has displayed wisdom, good judgment and a thorough knowledge of the formal and informal culture of the Sociology department, as well as a useful grasp of general university processes such as the changes to travel reimbursement. She has adeptly handled continual technology updates, from electric typewriters to—now—her mastery of multiple databases and websites. But it is her kindness and dedication to others that truly make her outstanding.

“Toni holds herself and those around her to the highest standards,” says colleague Carolyn Lesch.

Spring Sherrod, Department Manager in the Department of English

Caroline Levine says that, since she became chair of the English department, Spring Sherrod has been “the single most important source of support, and advice, I have had.”
Spring is a budget whiz, an innovative process and operations expert, and a tireless advocate for UW’s communities of color, smoothing the way not only for those team members she works with most closely, but for many others across campus.

Says faculty member Lisa Cooper: “Her knowledge of the way the university works, and her helpfulness in navigating its many labyrinths and bureaucratic hurdles, is unfathomable, which is to say, bottomless. She is always, always, always willing to help."

James Zernicke, Inventory Control Coordinator in the Department of Chemistry

In addition to keeping a potentially chaotic Chemistry storeroom organized and meticulous, Jim is constantly evaluating work systems and processes to determine how to do things smarter and more efficiently.

Says Chemistry professor Ive Hermans: “It is rare to find people with Jim’s level of dedication. Jim’s hard work is not only highly appreciated within the chemistry department, but campus-wide people count on his expertise and guidance when implementing new purchasing/inventory systems.”


L&S Academic Advising Awards

Persons honored with the L&S Academic Advising award must be exemplary advisors. Recipients must have gone beyond the call of duty and worked across school and college lines to serve the needs of students.

The staff awardee in this category is Teddy Kaul, Associate Student Services Coordinator in the Department of Art History.

Teddy’s accomplishments have not only improved the Art History department, but have made an impact throughout the UW campus. Teddy instituted a process for online enrollment permissions and authorizations that has made it easier for students at all levels to enroll more easily and efficiently. He is co-chair of the L&S Advisors Consortium and a member of the campus-wide Advisory Board for Advisory Training (ABfAT).

Leslie Kohlberg, Assistant Director of Departmental Engagement, L&S CICS says: “Teddy’s core values drive his priorities—his commitment to being a kind and compassionate steward of the students in his care. I feel lucky to have him as a colleague.”

The faculty awardee in the academic advising category is Myra Marx Ferree, Professor of Sociology:

Myra’s support for graduate has been critically important to many minority and first-generation students. She is a community builder, and a central figure with “Femsem,” a collaborative and supportive network of feminist scholars on campus.

Myra’s writing group for her advisees is often comprised of scholars of color and their research expertise spans the globe. Said one advisee: “She encouraged us, with countless comments and questions every week, to become our own kind of scholars. She has an amazing ability to draw out our personal strengths and experiences and mobilize us to help each other.”


L&S Academic Staff Excellence Awards

Early Career Recipients

Recipients of the Early Career Awards must have 3-8 years’ experience and demonstrate outstanding performance, promise of future contributions, and a high degree of professionalism.

Stephen Block, Assistant Director of the General Chemistry Laboratories

Stephen is the most highly rated lecturer in general chemistry courses 103 and 104 in the recorded history of the department. From creating his own online homework package to explaining complex and difficult concepts in understandable and intuitive ways, Stephen consistently exceeds expectations in the teaching arena.

Stephen also runs an enormous laboratory program – a constant challenge.

“Marvelously steady.”“Even-tempered.”“Amazingly articulate.”“A sly sense of humor.” These are just a few comments from faculty and staff who appreciate not only Stephen’s work, but his approach and presence in the department.

Linnea Burk, Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychology

Linnea directs the Psychology Research and Training Clinic, which provides important mental health services to both the UW and the greater Madison community, and serves as the primary training clinic for doctoral students in Clinical Psychology. Linnea has fostered an environment of professional development and camaraderie among doctoral students, and a firm commitment to delivering essential services at an affordable price to severely under-served individuals.

Says Psych chair Hill Goldsmith, “For many trainees, she is probably the most influential mentor they will encounter at UW.”

Elizabeth Foste, Careers and Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Economics

Elizabeth is often working long hours as the lead departmental liaison for the Economic Student Association, the Economics Advisory Board and the Economics Student Association Advisory Committee.

She has created two innovative programs for students: a class that helps them understand what they can do with an economics degree; and a case study competition, in which companies present students with real-world business problems and students develop creative solutions.

The response from students to that program, says department chair Ken Hendricks, has been ‘overwhelming.’

Jesse Steinberg, Faculty Associate & Assistant to the Chair in the Department of Philosophy

Jesse teaches classes and serves as Director of Graduate Studies, but he also advises undergraduates, writes for the alumni newsletter, and anticipates all the issues that need to be dealt with on a department level—both now, and in the future. Another university tried to lure Jesse away last year – UW was determined to keep him, and we were lucky to do so.

Says department chair Alan Sidelle: “Jesse does more for the department than anyone could reasonably be asked to do, and he does it conscientiously, at the highest level, and with the best of good cheer. Jesse is the ultimate team player and as chair, I would be lost without him.”

Mid-Career Recipients

Recipients of this award must have 7 or more years’ experience as outstanding leaders with substantial professional competency and the promise of continuing contributions.

Araceli Alonso, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies

Araceli is the creator of Health by Motorbike, a program that has taken groups of students to Kenya in the summer to work on a variety of health related projects. This work has been recognized by the United Nations and the American Institute for Public Service. Araceli’s work on another project to end worldwide sex trafficking has been instrumental in securing the new UNESCO Chair on Gender, Wellbeing and a Culture of Peace here at UW-Madison.

Judith Houck, Chair, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, says, “Araceli is a valued teacher, an innovative researcher, and a passionate advocate for social justice.”

Jeff Henriques, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology

Jeff energetically works to engage students and has applied innovative supportive technologies to his courses, especially in an effort to reduce the achievement gap he perceived in his own classes.

Says Hill Goldsmith, Chair of the Psychology Department: “Jeff is the epitome of what a teacher should be: passionate, enthusiastic, caring, and dedicated. In 2011 when the Parent Program surveyed parents about their students’ experiences on campus, Dr. Henriques was one of just 24 faculty members mentioned by name across more than 2000 survey respondents as someone who made a difference in their students’ lives."

Sharon Kahn, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Geography

Sharon has transformed graduate studies and curriculum development in Geography, and serves as the “anchor” that has held the department stable during periods of transition. Her strong leadership skills, organizational capacities, and creative problem solving make her a staff person to turn to when curriculum expertise is needed across the broader campus community.

Says Geography professor Joseph Mason: “The effort Sharon puts into getting to know all of our students: their backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses, starts even before they arrive in Madison"

Dianna L. Murphy, Founding Associate Director of the Language Institute

Dianna has helped elevate the profile of UW-Madison in the areas of new approaches to the study of language, and Second Language Acquisition. Not only was Dianna the founding director of the Language Institute, but she was instrumental in developing the Pushkin Summer Institute, a highly successful program that enables high school students of minority backgrounds to come to the UW-Madison for a six-week intensive summer Russian program.

Says Robert B Howell, Director Language Institute: “A great role model and empathetic mentor. Dianna treats colleagues with patience, respect and unfailing kindness.”

Judith S. Craig Distinguished Service Award

This award honors an L&S academic staff member with 15 or more years of outstanding service and is named in honor of former L&S Associate Dean Judith Craig.

Caton Roberts, Faculty Associate in the Department of Psychology

Caton has consistently received sparkling teaching evaluations and earned praise for his light-hearted, humorous approach to teaching.

For 8 years, Caton also served half-time as Faculty Director of the Chadbourne Residential College, where he brought students together around a common-read book program and other initiatives.

Caton has also focused considerable efforts on the academic achievement of underrepresented students. In particular, he has addressed the insidious and entrenched problem of the achievement gap and has shared his results at a national conference.

Says Psychology professor Brad Postle, “It is worth highlighting that many of Caton’s efforts have been carried out with what social psychologists call “intrinsic motivation.” That is, no one “told him to do this.”


We couldn’t do it without you.

Our amazing, dedicated academic and university staff help make L&S a truly wonderful place to teach, study, and learn.

“Every year at Awards time, I am reminded of the excellence in the College across all levels of expertise,” says Dean Scholz. “This year’s recipients are some of our very best.”