2016 Making a Difference Award Winners Announced

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Margaret Landsparger, Nancy Byers Sprague, Jeffrey Toorongian, Ian Repp, Jesse Nordeng, Karla Aho, and Sharon Attaway

At an awards program in the MUB Wednesday January 4, 2017, the following staff members were honored with the Staff Council Making a Difference Awards.

Above and Beyond Award

Maragret Landsparger, Testing Center Coordinator, Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Margaret received two nominations in this category.  When Margaret was initially hired the Testing Center gave 77 exams.  Three years later, Margaret oversees an operation that recently proctored 88 exams on a single day and 2,679 exams throughout the spring 2016 semester.  During low demand times Margaret found ways to keep it busy AND bring in extra revenue.  In addition to proctoring exams for online students from other universities, she has worked through the certification process for more than 15 different commercial tests, including the GRE, the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, and Microsoft Certifications for IT professionals.  Margaret will often return to work on evenings and weekends to ensure everything is set for the next day, to score the multiple choice exams so the instructors and students can receive feedback by the next day, to deal with last minute scheduling requests, or to resolve technical issues in the testing space.  She does not have to do this but believes that going above and beyond her work hours is needed when the issues are time sensitive.

 

Bringing out the Best

Ian Repp, Director of University Marketing and Communications

As one letter of support puts it “his southern accent is fading.  But his authenticity, positivity, and creativity remain.  When any member of his team feels the pull, or tug or outright drowning effect marketing and communications can have, does he swoop in and save them?  No.  He meddles only when asked.  Instead he brainstorms solutions, ideas, options, and perspectives to lay new ground and create our footing once again.  Ian brings out the best in us because of what he does – and doesn’t- do.”  As another letter states Ian “recognizes that we are not just a collection of job titles.  We’re people.  And he recognizes the worth in each of us.  In turn, we strive to do the best we can in large part because of his temperament, leadership, and example he sets each day.”

 

Creative Solutions

Jesse Nordeng, Master Machinist, Physics

As one letter of support states “How many times have I walked into the Physics machine shop with a group of students to ask Jesse for assistance with an urgent challenge?  I can’t count how many times and I positively and constructively Jesse responds.  He inevitably is able to help us come up with a creative solution that is more practical, more cost effective, and more direct than we had in mind.”  Jess is very collaborative in nature, he is very versatile, he routinely finds ingenious solutions to our problems efficiently and effectively and he often goes well beyond his expected role.  He also excels in his role as safety liason in the department.  His nominator also states “Often I will mention a project that I want to do in the near future and will pass Jesse in the hall and he will throw out 10 ideas that he was thinking about and how to make things better.”

 

Outstanding Supervisor

Karla Aho, Director of Gift Planning, Advancement

As her nominator put it “Karla continually pushes me and is fully supportive of the work I do.  Karla lets me run with projects I am passionate about and reigns me in when I need to settle down.  I often refer to her as my work mom, in which she chuckles.  But she’s as caring for her employees as a mother would be for their children.”  Another of her employees agrees and says that “Karla has always been a firm advocate for keeping life in balance, and not becoming overwhelmed/overburdened but our working lives.  She has done this quietly by example and overtly by reminding me of the need for family time.”  Karla readily acknowledges the contributions and successes of both her direct reports and her coworkers.  She does this not only on an individual basis but also often in a group setting.

Rookie Award

Sharon Attaway, Associate Director of Employer Relations, Career Services

One could not have possibly picked a more hectic department on campus to join at the most hectic time of the year in one of the most hectic recruiting seasons we’ve ever seen.  Within 1 ½ months of her start date Sharon would be doused with gasoline and thrown into the CareerFEST fire.  She assisted with the execution of 9 industry days and over a dozen more educational events which brought 71 companies to campus prior to the Career Fair.  Sharon jumped right in meeting with everyone from our facilities and transportation staff to academic department heads and our leadership team while stopping to meet and assist the many corporate recruiters and their on campus needs.  Sharon’s supervisor said it best “Sharon is like our graduates, they on-board quickly to their career roles and begin to immediately contribute value to their employers.”

 

Serving Others

Nancy Byers Sprague, Director of Graduate Degree Services, Grad School

One of her letters states “She devotes all of her time, energy and emotion into enriching the lives of others, particularly those who are vulnerable or less able to help themselves.”  Nancy is involved in several campus and community organizations including – Keweenaw Pride, Canterbury House, Good Shepard Lutheran Church, Sailing Club, and she religiously visits nursing homes to talk with residents.  She also invites 20+ students to her home for every holiday.  Another letter states “I am so happy knowing that she is there to look out for and take care of students and members of the community in her generous, genuine, loving way.”

 

Unsung Hero

Jeffrey Toorongian, Senior Educational Technologist, Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

“From providing narration for many safety and educational videos to serving as the person behind the camera in a desert documenting a field geology class in Utah, Jeff has reliably used his skills to provide and excellent quality project.  Like innumerable faculty I have benefited tremendously from Jeff’s advice about what to wear, how to position a microphone, which color pen to use, and how to organize my class when recording for online display.  Jeff’s attention to detail and quality has long been an unrecognized but essential part of most every video produced at Michigan Tech in the last two decades.”