2008: Juanita Denson, Department of Romance Languages and Literature

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

June 16, 2008

Juanita is truly an outstanding administrator, whose patience, humor, attention to detail, discretion, and constant presence have made my experience at the University of Chicago so great.... She is irreplaceable.

It gives us great pleasure to present the sixth annual Marlene F. Richman Award for Excellence and Dedication in Service to Students to Juanita Denson, the Department Administrator for the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

The Richman Award honors an individual whose exceptional professionalism and commitment to students has made a deep impact on life at the University. Each year, the Award recognizes a University of Chicago staff member who demonstrates the highest levels of dedication, care and compassion in the service of students. The winner of this award exemplifies 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.

The winner of the 2008 Marlene F. Richman award is Juanita Denson, who has served the University community for the last 40 years. Many of those years were spent in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, where she has perhaps left her greatest mark on the students who nominated her for this award. Juanita is an exceptionally committed, professional, caring, and – as you’ll see in the following comments – beloved member of our community. 

Here are some highlights from Juanita’s nominating letters:

Juanita has a personal style that is unmatched, and a wonderful twinkle in her eye. She is a person who loves life and shows it by making the lives of others run more smoothly. I appreciate and enjoy her so much!

Juanita is like the soul of this department!

If I ever decided to become an administrator or have a non-academic university job, I would without any doubt contact her first to get some tips and be inspired!

Finally, they wrote: “Our department has been lucky to have her for so many years! I would like to give her this award as a token of my appreciation for her hard work and commitment.”

Today we are doing just that. The Richman Award Committee is proud to honor Juanita Denson today with the 2008 Marlene F Richman Award. We are all very grateful to Juanita for the incredibly personal level of support she provides to our students. The nominations submitted on her behalf show the true appreciation and respect she has garnered through her selfless work at the University.

Juanita Denson is presented with an award certificate and a homemade cake, by Marlene Richman. Photo credit: Photo by Meghan Hammond

The nominees for the sixth annual awarding of this honor included the following full-time staff members:Julie Less, Student Affairs Administrator for the Department of Economics; Fay Booker, Data Resource Manager, Harris School; Michael Cephus, Security Guard at the Law School; Alicia Czaplewski, Department Administrator in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations; Cynthia Cook-Conley, Faculty Assistant at the Harris School for Public Policy Studies; Kathy Fox, Administrative Assistant in the Classics Department; Terri Rossi, Program Administrator in Financial Mathematics; and Theresa Mah, Assistant Director in the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. Each nominee received a certificate and letter highlighting some of the comments included in the students' nominations.

Juanita Denson received an award certificate, an extra service payment, Marlene’s chocolate cake, and her name is inscribed on the Marlene F. Richman Award Plaque, which hangs in the stairwell of the Reynolds Club.