2015 Making a Difference Award Winners Announced

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Steve Lehmann, Joe Thompson, Sue Niemi, Patty Kyllonen, Kathy Goulette, Joe Cooper (Missing – Jodi Lehman and Margaret Perander)

At an awards program in the MUB Wednesday January 6, 2016, the following staff members were honored with the Staff Council Making a Difference Awards.

Above and Beyond Award
Jodi Lehman, Assistant Director of Research Development

One of Jodi’s nomination letters states, “This year, following the departure of another staff member, I asked Jodi if she would take on the additional task of managing Michigan Tech’s relationships with private foundations. Not surprisingly (to anyone who knows her), Jodi enthusiastically accepted these additional duties. She retained many of her existing duties – which would have made taking on this additional job ‘above and beyond’ on its own. However, the timing of this job change coincided with the start-up of a major new foundation in the community – the Portage Health Foundation.” They noted that even though a significant portion of the work on this partnership came during her two “off months” (she is a 10-month employee), she stayed engaged in the project, shepherding it through the entire process. It was noted that Jodi did this because she deeply cares about Michigan Tech, and saw the big picture of how this partnership with PHF will strengthen Michigan Tech not just for the next couple years, but for decades to come.

Bringing out the Best Award
Patty Kyllonen, Director of HR Information Systems

“When new changes or policies must be implemented, Patty has the ability to spread enthusiasm to all involved, whether it be the entire department, a single work center, a committee, or an individual.”, stated one nominator. Another said, “Being a relatively new member to her support staff, Patty has always made the extra effort to help guide me to make the best decisions for the circumstances I come in contact with. I’ve watched her mentor at least four people in the last five years, and I’ve seen all of them grow to be better employees and better people.” Also stated, “Her leadership provides endless chances to dive a little deeper with each goal, mission, and project. Giving those chances to grow is how Patty brings out the best in me.” Patty is also involved in activities outside of work with other individuals in the department that encourages comradery when back at work.

Creative Solutions Award
Steve Lehmann,
Research Associate in Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics

One reason stated for nominating Steve was: “Steve is an expert LabView programmer. He is now implementing a LabView application in several Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanic laboratories and in the new Engineering Practice courses. Not only does it offer all of the functionality required by the users, maintenance and modification of the program is significantly streamlined since there is only one program instead of a dozen. It is estimated that after implementation of this software application, the time required to maintain it has dropped from what could have otherwise been a full time position to just a few hours per week. This represents a tremendous savings in personnel costs, besides freeing up Steve’s time to work on other important tasks.” Also, “Steve’s ability to see things from the student’s perspective has resulted in new ides in their under graduate labs that have produced better student learning experiences.”

Outstanding Supervisor Award
Joe Cooper – Director of Financial Aid (Director of Student Activities when nominated)

One nominator stated, “When someone asks me what I love about my job, the first thing that comes to mind is my supervisor, Joe Cooper. Joe continually pushes for my professional development by supporting my UAW classes and suggesting campus lectures/classes that would benefit me professionally.” Another added, “During my time in the department, he has been among the most visible proponents of positive support, in addition to encouraging personal and professional development in our area. He is aware that learning is a life-long practice; he doesn’t shy away from a challenge and receives feedback with an open mind.” And also said, “Joe has been nothing less than 100% supportive of my demanding master’s program, which at times can divert my attention away from my position in Student Activities.” When it came time to making a change in the department, Joe provided suggestions on how to go about making the changes, but gave his employee enough leeway to implement the changes, while providing a safety net in case things did not go their way.

Rookie Award
Joseph Thompson, Sponsored Projects Manager in the Pavlis Honors College

One nominator stated that after just two weeks of Joe being on the job, he knew they had found the ideal candidate when Joe accompanied him on a business trip to meet with ten of their very important industry sponsors. He said, “His input was thoughtful, genuine, and engaging; he was able to identify mutually beneficial opportunities. His follow-through on these visits was equally impressive. As a result of this trip alone, Joe successfully secured $165k in sponsored projects for the fall semester.” Equally important is his ability to build relationships on campus with faculty and staff. He is often out of his office meeting across campus, learning first-hand about the Enterprise programs, so that he can promote them successfully to their external sponsor base. Beyond his performance, you couldn’t ask for a more genuine, sincere, and authentic colleague and employee. Another noted, “While fulfilling the role for which he was hired with great commitment and creativity, he also began identifying opportunities and exploring innovative ways to promote effective growth and evolution of our programs.”

Serving Others Award – There was a tie between Sue Niemi and Kathy Goulette

Susan Niemi, Office Assistant in Chemical Engineering

It was stated, “She is always very professional, helpful and offers to do whatever is needed to take care of the needs of others. This is not always an easy task as the majority of her work load in non-repetitive, there are so many different things that arise on a daily basis. She handles them with ease, finding solutions, and no one ever leaves the department unsatisfied. She takes initiative to work on special projects and takes pride in all of the work she does in assisting the department run smoothly.” Another said, “Sue routinely investigates the graduate student financial support and ensures that the students’ pay is always correct and on time.” “Frequently when asked about various specifics about the meetings the department holds, her response is that the task has already been completed.” “Sue always strives to put the needs of everyone else before herself.”

Kathy Goulette, Executive Assistant in Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics

It was stated, “While Kathy’s assigned duties keep her extremely busy, she has always found the time to go beyond this to serve others in additional ways.” With a department of this size, comes complexity at every turn which often leads to exceptions and her having to break new ground and create new processes. When a faculty member complained he could not find a planner/calendar to meet his needs, Kathy met with him to determine what he was looking for. When she could not find one on the internet, she developed one for him. She has been known to bring in flowers for staff to brighten their desks.

She started a Friday evening “meet and greet” to serve alumni during the Academy weekend. Another stated, “last year the person who was expected to enter the data into Digital Measures left the department with a short notice. Therefore, Kathy stepped forward to enter the data in Digital Measures herself.

Unsung Hero Award
Margaret Perander,
Administrative Aide in Mathematical Sciences

One nominator stated, “Margaret doesn’t do anything just to get praise or recognition. When there’s something that needs to be done and Margaret sees it, she does it, no questions asked.” For a faculty member, she walked the halls of Fisher for 50 minutes with his daughter in a stroller so he could attend a Colloquium. It was also said, “Margaret makes me feel good about myself, especially if I make a mistake and I’m beating myself up. She’s a good listener and co-worker. Her office door is always open and she’s there to help all the students, instructors and staff.” Also, “I am pleased to say that Margaret has continued to take the initiative in lending assistance whenever needed during my time here. She is always willing to take on any task given to her, which usually means that she needs to drop what she is doing and do something else on short notice. That kind of staff support is invaluable.”