All posts by Tanya Maki

2017 Making a Difference Awards Announced

MAD WinnersAt an awards program in the MUB Wednesday, the following staff members were honored with the Staff Council Making a Difference Awards. The winners, along with an excerpt from their letters of support, are as follows:

Above and Beyond Award

Lisa Hitch, Business Manager/Technical Communication Specialist, Electrical and Computer Engineering. “During our recent ABET visit, our department chair was suddenly called away from our department at a critical moment in the evaluation process. Without hesitation, Lisa organized the details of the department meetings between our ABET visitors and more than 50 students, staff, and faculty in a matter of hours. As a result of her intervention, the visit proceeded without interruption. When our chair returned, he found a department visit so smoothly tuned and ready that it went forward flawlessly. Without her initiative, the meetings would have been hopelessly uncoordinated and left a terrible impression on our visitors. She saved the day for all of us.”

Karen Salo, Director of College Administration, College of Sciences and Arts. “Every coordinator in the department can tell of a time when Salo (as she calls herself since there is another Karen in the office) dropped what she was doing to resolve a budget issue, a personnel difficulty, or just fix things by knowing who to call in HR, budgeting, or accounting. This all comes rather naturally since Karen basically designed this job, built the templates required to do the job, established the processes for how and what a coordinator at the college and department level does, and then set the stand for performance.”

Creative Solution

Allison Mills, Director of Research News, University Marketing and Communications. “Allison is a leader in finding new ways to tell Michigan Tech’s story. She created the Unscripted blog, which breaks science down without diluting it. She uses the @mturesearch Twitter account to reach out to other institutions around the world. She pitches our stories on a national stage and we’re more of a presence because of it.”

Outstanding Supervisor

Mike Abbott, Director – Great Lakes Research Center. “Not only does Mike stimulate personal and professional development for his employees through his flexibility in scheduling and encouragement for his employees to attend seminars and classes; Mike is often found right alongside the team pitching in when needed despite the mountain of work at his desk.”

Rookie Award

Zack Fredin, Enterprise Program Coordinator, Pavlis Honors College. “It is rare for a newcomer to step right into a new job role without missing a beat but Zack did exactly that in his first year. He has a special skillset that has enabled him to succeed on several fronts: securing project funding, managing client expectations, working with faculty advisors and students, and upholding the standards of the Enterprise Program. I greatly appreciate a person like Zack who focuses on finding solutions, not identifying roadblocks.”

Serving Others

Mary Yeo, Manager Auxiliary Fund & Banking Operations, Financial Services & Operations. “Mary is the face of Michigan Tech in our relationships with financial institutions. The University’s long standing relationship with Superior National Bank has been very successful due to Mary’s excellent customer service and knowledge in responding timely and positively to any issue that arises.” A Superior National Bank employee echoes this in her letter of support. “We are thankful to have Mary as our partner. Her positive attitude and commitment to do the right thing for the University, it’s employees and students are the reason I support her nomination.”

Unsung Hero

Ed Trinklein, Research Engineer, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. “This past spring our Michigan Tech student-built nanosatellite was at risk of missing a technical milestone set by the Air Force. If this milestone was missed our 7 year long program would have come to an end without a launch into space. Ed dropped everything he was working on, rolled up his sleeves, and inserted himself into my laboratory where he discovered complicated errors in our serial communication architecture—which he quickly fixed. The satellite shipped to the Air Force in June and, as a result of Ed’s work, will launch into orbit in April, 2018.”



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.”


2015 Making a Difference Nominees Announced

Everyone is invited to a reception honoring the 2015 Making a Difference Awards nominees.  The reception is scheduled for Wednesday, January 6, 2016 from 2:00 to 3:30pm in Ballroom A of the Memorial Union Building.  The recipients for each category will be announced at the reception.  Here is a list of the 2015 nominees:

Nominee Name Nominee Dept Nominators Name Category
Andy Parker Facilities Management Cathy Jenich Above & Beyond
Byron Quinn VP for Administration Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Above & Beyond
Haley Bianucci Public Safety Daniel Bennett Above & Beyond
Jennifer Biekkola Annual Giving Paula Nutini Above & Beyond
Jodi Lehman VP for Research Jason Carter Above & Beyond
Julie Ross Civil & Environmental Eng Stacy Cotey Above & Beyond
Karen Kangas College of Sciences & Arts Bruce Seely Above & Beyond
Lisa Hitch Electrical & Computer Eng Daniel Fuhrmann Above & Beyond
Madeline Mercado Voelker Human Resources Renee Ozanich Above & Beyond
Paula Dube Custodial Services Erica Coscarelli Above & Beyond
Rodney Thompson UMC Jennifer Biekkola Above & Beyond
Ruth Archer Auxiliary Services Operations Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Above & Beyond
Sarah Kuhl Computer Science Charles Wallace Above & Beyond
Tim Scullion Human Resources Anita Quinn Above & Beyond
Ellen Marks Library Pattie Luokkanen Bringing Out the Best
Gina Goudge Cognitive & Learning Sciences Rachelle Gariepy Bringing Out the Best
Ian Repp University Marketing & Comm Shannon Rinkinen Bringing Out the Best
Patty Kyllonen Human Resources Alex Saari Bringing Out the Best
Allison Mills University Marketing & Comm Jennifer Donovan Creative Solutions
Heidi Reid Human Resources Anita Quinn Creative Solutions
Laura Harry, Tammy Ahola, Nikki Ebert, Megan Ross Auxiliary Services Robert Hiltunen Creative Solutions
Michael Olson Office of Advancement Karla Aho Creative Solutions
Steven Lehmann Mech Eng – Eng Mech Bob Page Creative Solutions
Joe Cooper Student Activities Maryann Wilcox Outstanding Supervisor
Lisa Hitch Electrical & Computer Eng Joan Becker Outstanding Supervisor
Lorri Reilly Chemistry Melanie Talaga Outstanding Supervisor
Michael Abbott VPR/GLRC Chris Pinnow Outstanding Supervisor
Patrice Myllyoja Information Technology Lisa Cunard Outstanding Supervisor
Renee Hiller Human Resources Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Outstanding Supervisor
Abbi Halkola Human Resources Catherine Burns Rookie Award
Brenda Randell Auxiliary Services Operations Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Rookie Award
Daryl Matthews Dining Services Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Rookie Award
David Rivera Facilities Chris Maxson Rookie Award
Debra Linn Physics Ravi Pandey Rookie Award
Ian Repp University Marketing & Comm Cody Kangas Rookie Award
Joseph Thompson Pavlis Honors College Rick Berkey Rookie Award
Laurie Stark Library Chad Arney Rookie Award
Michael Goldsworthy Mech Eng – Eng Mech Martin Toth Rookie Award
Shannon Kokkonen Industry Relations Brent Burns Rookie Award
Tracey Reed Information Technology Stephen Eles Rookie Award
Taana Kalliainen Chemical Engineering Alexis Snell Rookie Award
Darlene Comfort VP for Administration Anita Quinn Serving Others
Donna Beels Public Safety Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Serving Others
Kathleen Goulette Mech Eng – Eng Mech William Predebon Serving Others
Katie Torrey Chemical Engineering Faith Morrison Serving Others
Kelly McLean Geo Mining & Eng Sciences Dr. Ebrahim Tarshizi Serving Others
Michelle Farrey Career Services Steve Patchin Serving Others
Quentin Franke & Alex Hughes University Marketing & Comm Cyndi Perkins Serving Others
Susan Niemi Chemical Engineering Alexis Snell Serving Others
Sylvia Matthews College of Sciences & Arts Susan Liebau & Heather Simpson Serving Others
Vicky Roy Computer Science Charles Wallace Serving Others
Aparna Pandey Chemistry Melanie Talaga Unsung Hero
Ashley DeVoge Ticketing Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Unsung Hero
Carol Argentati Office of Advancement Karla Aho Unsung Hero
James Desrochers Career Services Steve Patchin Unsung Hero
Karen Salo College of Sciences & Arts Bruce Seely Unsung Hero
Margaret Perander Mathematical Sciences Candy Steed Unsung Hero
Margaret Perander Mathematical Sciences Jiguang Sun Unsung Hero
Megan Ross Auxiliary Services Operations Theresa Coleman-Kaiser Unsung Hero
Rose Martell Center for Pre-College Outreach Liz Fujita Unsung Hero
Stacy Cotey Biological Sciences Karyn Fay Unsung Hero
Wayne Gaddis Human Resources Anita Quinn Unsung Hero