2004: Stephanie Walthes, Department of Mathematics

From the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Students in the University and the President of Student Government

May 17, 2004

For additional comments on the award, please contact Steve Klass, Bill Michel, Robin Wagner, Sanyu Mojola, Andy Puckett, Jamie Stevens, or Noeline Arulgnanendran.

Stephanie is not just a smiling face who hands us our classroom text copies and keeps a supply of colored chalk; she actively negotiates classrooms for us when ours are not appropriate for a mathematics course, helps us manage our graders, and ensures we are always well informed about our deadlines and departmental policies.

The above comment was one of many tributes to Stephanie Walthes, the Administrator of Educational Grants in the Department of Mathematics and the 2004 winner of the Marlene F. Richman Award for Excellence and Dedication in Service to Students. Marlene Richman served students with extraordinary commitment and caring during her career at the University that spanned four decades and included serving as Resident Master of Burton-Judson and 36 years as a CAPS career counselor.

As Steve Klass, Vice President and Dean of Students in the University, announced on the occasion of Marlene’s retirement in October 2002,

The Marlene F. Richman Award recognizes University of Chicago staff members who demonstrate the highest levels of dedication, care and compassion in the service of students. The winner of this award will exemplify the qualities demonstrated by Marlene F. Richman during her decades of untiring effort to guide students in the articulation and achievement of their dreams, to be a true friend and leader to colleagues, and to promote students' happiness and well-being.

Over 70 students submitted letters of nomination for 20 full-time staff members eligible to receive the award – faculty members and senior management were specifically excluded so that the award would recognize University staff members who work directly with students outside the classroom. The selection committee included undergraduate and graduate students, members of the University Dean of Students senior staff, and a divisional Dean of Students.

Undergraduate and Graduate students from the Department of Mathematics wrote of Stephanie’s kindness and thoughtfulness in helping them with the logistics of their classes and other activities. “She has been unfailingly helpful and cheerful towards me and everyone she interacts with,” explains one nomination, and in the words of another: “Stephanie is often a department troubleshooter… Just as important, she will give the unforced ‘hi’ or the listening ear that one needs on a bad (or good) day.” “Even the squirrels know that Stephanie is the person to go to for help,” writes another student of the observation that Walthes’ kind-heartedness even extends to some of the non-student members of campus community! Another nomination read in part, “Her door is always open, and she’s always ready to see the humor in any situation – and there always is humor!”

Walthes’ service to students clearly extends beyond the specific responsibilities of her job. Students wrote of her advise and help for the math club, as well as her support for the graduate students’ efforts to organize a mentoring program for undergraduates. As one student wrote, “Stephanie is the glue that holds the math department together, in my opinion – she has the knowledge, the patience, and the friendly disposition to bridge the divides between students, faculty and staff.”

The nominees for the second annual awarding of this honor included members of the Housing and Dining staff, several graduate student administrators from the School of Social Service Administration and from departments in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, College Advisors, and members of the ORCSA, Library, and CAPS staffs. Each nominee will receive a certificate and letter highlighting some of the comments included in students’ nominations. Stephanie Walthes will be honored at the annual picnic hosted by Steve Klass, Vice President and Dean of Students in the University. She received an award certificate, Marlene Richman's chocolate cake, and her name is inscribed on the Marlene F. Richman Award Plaque displayed in the stairwell of the Reynolds Club.

Students nominated the following full-time staff members for the award: Brooke Noonan, Office of Graduate Affairs; Anne Ch’ien, Anthropology; Brian Lynch, Geophysical Sciences; Diana Doty, Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities; Diane Hall, Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Physiology; Estella Manns, Residence Halls & Commons; Evelyn Steward, Social Service Administration; Jean Treese, College Advisor; Judy Mendoza, English Language and Literature; Kathy Fox, Classical Languages and Literatures; Lori Hurvitz, Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities; Melissa Roy, Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities; Nancy Gilpin, College Advisor; Nancy Jacobson, College Advisor; Norval Glover, Residence Halls & Commons; Regine Desruisseaux, Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities; Sharon Krueger, Social Sciences Business Center; and Shoshannah Cohen, Career and Placement Services.