Awards

University Staff Advisory Council

Staff Recognition Award Program

 

The USAC Staff Awards recognize University staff members
who go above and beyond their normally assigned job responsibilities,
perhaps by resolving a particularly difficult dilemma,
being exceptionally creative,
or being responsive to the needs of others regardless of status.

 

Eligibility:

  • All full-time staff are eligible
  • Anyone at the University may submit a nomination, regardless of level. 
  • Every nomination is considered on its own merit and will be given equal consideration regardless of type or level of staff position held within the university.

Nominations open in January 2018. Award criteria are detailed below.

 

2017 Award Honorees

Maria Rosalba (Alba) Congiu
Senior Financial Analyst, The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Cathy Holsing
Director, The Huck Institutes of Life Sciences & Director, Filippelli Institute for e-Education and Outreach

Jill Schulte
Research Project Manager/Team Lead for the Technical Assistance team, Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State

 

2017 University Staff Advisory Council's Staff Excellence Award

Alba Congiu has been employed by Penn State since January of 2013 and has spent the entirety of her time here as a senior budget analyst with the Huck Institute of the Life Sciences where she manages the financial practices and compliance, including nine shared technology facilities that support life science research across the university. Most recently she has developed financial models and reports that assist the leadership in the decision making process and the implementation of accountancy principles that have improved internal controls in the day to day operations and strategy of the Institutes. This new management process resulted in trimming about $300K of red ink from the overall facilities budget.

Her nominator says of Alba: "Throughout my career at Penn State I have worked with many staff members who are responsible for overseeing financial data at various university, college and departmental levels. However, Alba is a rare gem. Her peers have a lot of respect for her work and recognize the difficulty and challenges of tracking the multiple accounts and funds."

Her director noted: "Alba is just a remarkable staff member who always goes the extra mile to ensure jobs get done effectively and she does this in a charming and delightful way. She identified a long-standing issue where some of the testing facilities were not billing faculty for the services that were provided in a timely fashion and they were not balancing this with ordering which resulted in a $1M deficit at the end of a fiscal year.  Alba identified the problem and the possible negative consequences of this for the longer-term  future  of  the  facility,  and  quickly  collaborated  with  the  facility  directors  to ensure bills were submitted on a monthly basis.  Within a one year period, she was able to eliminate all but $25,000 of the negative deficit and have all of the facilities on track with their invoicing. This  was  huge  for  the  Huck  Institute and  involved  long  and  complex discussions with facility directors.  A  challenging issue that others had been unable to resolve, but she did it. She really is a gold standard staff member." 

Another colleague said: "In my 25 years on the faculty at Penn State, I have interacted with a large number of financial analysts.  Most have been competent, pleasant, and helpful.  None have been as directly engaged with scientific staff and faculty, nor have they been as interested in the science and as understanding of how financial management integrates with research. In short, Alba is extraordinary and highly deserving of recognition for her excellence.
"The Huck Institutes finances involves the operation of nine Shared Technology Facilities that support life science research across the university. During the past year, she was instrumental in implementing a new management model wherein these facilities are more rigorously evaluated for their strategic position, technology portfolio, and financial performance. This new management process resulted in trimming about $300K of red ink from the overall facilities budget.
"In my 25 years on the faculty at Penn State, I have interacted with a large number of financial analysts.  Most have been competent, pleasant, and helpful.  None have been as directly engaged with scientific staff and faculty, nor have they been as interested in the science and as understanding of how financial management integrates with research. In short, Alba is extraordinary and highly deserving of recognition for her excellence."
                  - James H. Marden, Professor of Biology & Director of Operations, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

"She identified a long-standing issue where some of the testing facilities were not billing faculty for the services that were provided in a timely fashion and they were not balancing this with ordering which resulted in a $1M deficit at the end of a fiscal year. Alba identified the problem and the possible negative consequences of this for the longer-term  future  of  the facility, and quickly  collaborated with the facility  directors  to ensure bills were submitted on a monthly basis.  Within a one-year period, she was able to eliminate all but $25,000 of the negative deficit and have all of the facilities on track with their invoicing. This was huge for the  Huck and involved long and complex discussions with facility  directors.  A challenging issue that others had been unable to resolve, but she did it. She really is a gold standard staff member."
                  - Peter Hudson FRS, Willaman Chair of Biology. 

 

2017 University Staff Advisory Council's Staff Leadership Award

Cathy Holsing started her career at Penn State in 1997 and moved into a position in Liberal Arts in 2002. She is currently the Director of Learning Design for the College of the Liberal Arts' Filippelli Institute for e-Education and Outreach. In this position, she directs the learning design team as they work throughout the college to design and deliver over 170 online Penn State courses to students enrolled at the World Campus or as an online course at the University Park campus. She has grown her unit from a unit of one staff to thirteen and is currently assisting both residential and online faculty in the Liberal Arts transition their courses to Canvas.

Her nominator said of Cathy: "Thanks to Cathy’s direction and leadership, our department has become one of the leaders in the Learning Design Community at Penn State. [She] constantly strives to bring out the best in everyone and seeks out opportunities for her staff. Cathy guides our team in order to be successful and ensures we have the tools needed to do so. She motivates others to seek creative and innovative ideas within our department, interact with other university committees, and engage in college and university initiatives. Cathy is just an exceptional leader...it is just that simple. She leads by example, which includes hard work, dedication, integrity, and much more." 

A colleague said: "I have learned many things from Cathy, but most importantly I have learned the true meaning of integrity. Cathy's motto has always been to do the right thing "even when nobody is looking". Cathy leads by example - constantly and consistently."
Cathy's director says: "Cathy is a solid leader and respected by everyone who has the privilege of working with her. I have watched Cathy interact with her peers and others in several committees, and she is often looked to for the measured and rationale answer or approach to a challenge, or how to move a decision forward." 

And another colleague noted: "She believes in empowering others. She believes in including a diverse range of expertise in any decision that will impact others. She believes in looking for the strengths in others. She believes in giving credit where credit is due. She believes in creating critical thinkers all around her. From my first day in Liberal Arts, she has believed in me."

"Cathy constantly strives to bring out the best in everyone and seeks out opportunities for her staff. She never hovers or intrudes someone’s space, although provides guidance when asked. Cathy guides our team in order to be successful and ensures we have the tools needed to do so. She motivates others to seek creative and innovative ideas within our department, interact with other university committees, and engage in college and university initiatives.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the work that Cathy does herself and the ongoing support and guidance she provides to our staff.
Thanks to Cathy’s direction and leadership, our department has become one of the leaders in the Learning Design Community at Penn State. Cathy is just an exceptional leader...it is just that simple. She leads by example, which includes hard work, dedication, integrity, and much more. Cathy not only challenges herself, but continuously challenges each and every one of us to take on new and exciting endeavors for individual growth, while also sharing her knowledge and experiences to assist us along the way." 
                       - Louise Sharrar

"She believes in empowering others. She believes in including a diverse range of expertise in any decision that will impact others. She believes in looking for the strengths in others. She believes in giving credit where credit is due. She believes in creating critical thinkers all around her. From my first day in Liberal Arts, she has believed in me." 
                       - the artist formerly known as Jessie - letter was not signed

"I have learned many things from Cathy, but most importantly I have learned the true meaning of integrity. Cathy's motto has always been to do the right thing 'even when nobody is looking.' Cathy leads by example - constantly and consistently."
                       - Lisa Byrnes

"Cathy is a solid leader and respected by everyone who has the privilege of working with her. I have watched Cathy interact with her peers and others in several committees, and she is often looked to for the measured and rationale answer or approach to a challenge, or how to move a decision forward." 
                      - Dr. Rick L. Shearer, Director, World Campus Learning Design

 

2017 University Staff Advisory Council's Staff Morale Award

Jill Schulte has been employed by the university since 2011 and has spent the entirety of her time with the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness as an Implementation Specialist and Research Program Manager. As the Team Lead and Implementation Specialist for the Technical Assistance team at the Clearinghouse, she is responsible for supervising, guiding, and supporting the team in handling requests from professionals working with Military families around evidence-based program selection, implementation, and evaluation. She also supports implementation efforts in delivering evidence-based and evidence-informed child abuse prevention programs among the Army for the New Parent Support Program Evaluation project.

Her nominator said of Jill: "I feel that Jill represents the criteria for the Staff Morale Award on a regular basis. As a group lead at the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness, I am encouraged and impressed by Jill as an excellent and caring team lead. Jill is motivating to her team members and peers because of her positive  attitude and creative mind. She is attentive to the needs of others, sensitive when needed, and a strong and positive role model."

One colleague, speaking of a proposed solution that required skills beyond her abilities, said: "I talked to Jill about wanting to develop skills in this area and she fully supported my professional development. This is just one instance where Jill has recognized my potential and supported me as I advanced my skills."

Another colleague noted: "I call our team a family and that rare kind of workspace, a family with a sense of acceptance and cohesiveness, can be traced back to the precedence Jill has set as a leader. I've seen people approach her with personal and professional problems and can see compassion, respect, and kindness given - consistently - to everyone. She represents the kind of people we, as a Penn State Community, want to be and who we strive to be. We're a stronger community because of the connections Jill and others like her have cultivated.
"Jill readily takes responsibility for her actions, the action of the people she leads, and the success or failure of the projects she heads. Through this, she effectively builds cohesion and motivation and with her consistent level of hard work, accountability, and positivity, her team reflects this positivity and motivation."

                   - Miranda P. Kaye, Ph.D., Research and Evaluation Scientist, Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State

"I call our team a family and that rare kind of workspace, a family with a sense of acceptance and cohesiveness, can be traced back to the precedence Jill has set as a leader.
"I've seen people approach her with personal and professional problems and can see compassion, respect, and kindness given - consistently - to everyone. She's quick to point out what she appreciates in other people and to see the good that can be found in difficult situations. She represents the kind of people we, as a Penn State Community, want to be and who we strive to be. We're a stronger community because of the connections Jill and others like her have cultivated."

                     - Jennifer Smith, M.Ed., Implementation Specialist, Clearinghouse for Military Readiness at Penn State

"Even though I was new to the team, Jill showed me the utmost respect, took my suggestions seriously, and was willing to adapt to a new method to make life easier for the members of the TA team." Speaking of a proposed solution that required skills beyond her abilities: "I talked to Jill about wanting to develop skills in this area and she fully supported my professional development. This is just one instance where Jill has recognized my potential and supported me as I advanced my skills."

                     - Aubrey Faber, Research Assistant, Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State

 

 

AWARDS PURPOSE AND CRITERIA 

In order to nominate, nominators are asked to complete and submit a nomination form along with up to three (3) letters of support and recommendation.  Candidates may be nominated for more than one award, however, they can only receive one award. 2018 Honorees will be recognized at the Award Ceremony will be held in May 2018 at Schreyer House, the home of President and Mrs. Eric Barron.

STAFF EXCELLENCE AWARD

Purpose:
The purpose of this award is to recognize a Penn State University staff person who demonstrates integrity, respect, and excellence in all aspects of their position.

Criteria:

  • Exhibits creativity, innovation, and initiative.
  • Continues to seek opportunities for personal and professional growth.
  • Demonstrates excellence in professionalism.
  • Promotes productive relationships across units and/or organizations.
  • Makes outstanding contributions to their immediate work unit as well as the university as a whole.
  • Demonstrates commitment to and support of University values, including integrity, respect, responsibility, discovery, excellence and community. 
 

STAFF MORALE AWARD

Purpose:
The purpose of this award is to recognize a Penn State University staff person who demonstrates enthusiasm and optimism in order to create a positive, inclusive, and supportive work environment for all. 

Criteria:

  • Fosters respect and a cooperative work climate.
  • Recognizes potential within others.
  • Demonstrates concern for the well-being of coworkers.
  • Able to provide the support and guidance needed to help make life better for those around them. 
  • Demonstrates commitment to and support of University values, including integrity, respect, responsibility, discovery, excellence and community. 

 

STAFF LEADERSHIP AWARD

Purpose:
The purpose of this award is to recognize a Penn State University staff person who demonstrates excellence in leadership and serves as a positive role model for others.

Criteria:

  • Exhibits reliability and resourcefulness.
  • Demonstrates ability to mentor, inspire, motivate, and support others.
  • Displays sound judgment and exemplary problem solving skills.
  • Promotes excellence in teamwork, performance, and achievement within the unit and/or the organization.
  • Demonstrates commitment to and support of University values, including integrity, respect, responsibility, discovery, excellence and community. 

 

Past Honorees

2016 Award Recipients

2015 Award recipients with Susan Basso and President Barron: Caolyn Saona, Karen

From left to right are Penn State President Eric Barron, Mary Runco, Ann Lalik, Stephanie Chastain, Deborah Sam, and Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Susan Basso. Absent from the photo were award winners Allison Shauger and Karen Brewster.