2011: Alicia Czaplewski, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

From the Office of the Vice-President for Campus Life and Dean of Students in the University and the President of Student Government:

June 6, 2011

"The first day I walked into the SALC [South Asian Languages and Civilizations] office, Alicia was introduced to me as the 'Foster Mother.' The name couldn't be more apt. She is very much the mother of Foster Hall and, more precisely, a surrogate mother for the students in the department. Her door is always open should we just need someone to lend an ear. And, moreover, she engenders similar supportive feelings in us for our fellow students. She really goes above and beyond the demands of her position. She simply makes it easier for us to do what we came to the university to do: she makes it easier for us to be students."

The above comment was one of many tributes to Alicia Czaplewski, the Administrative Secretary for the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the 2011 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. The award was established at her retirement in 2002 and awarded yearly since 2003.

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 100 students submitted letters of nomination for 38 staff members eligible to receive the award – faculty and senior management staff 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, staff members from Campus and Student Life and divisional Deans of Students. In this large field of nominees, Ms. Czaplewski stood out from the rest and was the unanimous choice of the committee.

Students from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations spoke of her dedication to her tasks as well as her availability. "She is amazingly organized and great at juggling many duties at once. Her door is open at all times and even when I know she is busy with her administrative responsibilities, I also know that it's okay to drop in with any question or concern that I may have." Others emphasized her communication and responsiveness. "Alicia is excellent in communication both in terms of conveying the departmental policy to the students and the students' perspectives to the department. She is the perfect liaison between the students and the department. She is extremely efficient in balancing her administrative responsibilities and time commitment to students. At the hour of need she is always there for us no matter what the situation is." A graduate student in History wrote "Not only is Alicia always warm and personable and goes out of her way to make the lives of students in her own department better, she even extends this kindness to students such as myself who are affiliated with the department but not strictly a part of it." Numerous students spoke of her going out of her way to help out with social events, workshops and conferences.

"Moving from a foreign country a month before studies began," wrote an international student, "Alicia was the first person to greet me and help me get settled in my new home away from home. From my first day at SALC, Alicia has made an effort to make my family and me comfortable in our new setting. I have seen Alicia act similarly with my fellow students as well as with prospective students. Whether regularly checking up on an ill student or bringing a box of crayons for my child to play with at a departmental event – Alicia shows us that we are on her mind in a way that exceeds administrative duty or office hours...I always joke with her that she cannot leave until I finish my dissertation."

The nominees for the 2011 award included graduate student administrators from departments and schools across campus, members of the Housing and Dining staff, staff at CAPS, in the deans of students offices, college admissions, college advising, college programming office, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. Each nominee will receive a certificate and letter highlighting some of the comments included in students' nominations. Alicia Czaplewski will be honored at the Humanities Division spring staff meeting with Karen Warren Coleman, Associate Vice President for Campus Life, presenting the award. She will receive an extra service payment and her name will be inscribed on the Marlene F. Richman Award Plaque hung in the Bartlett Lounge with other University honors and awards.

 

Karen Warren C​oleman, Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Associate Dean of Students in the University, honors Alicia Czaplewski, Administrative Secretary for the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, at the presentation of the Marlene Richman Award, June 6, 2011. Photo Credit: Photo by Jason Smith.

Students nominated the following staff members for the award: Kathy Anderson, Career Advising & Planning Services; Bernadine, Dining Hall staff; Holly Bland, Office of College Admissions; Fay Booker, Harris School of Public Policy; Cynthia Cook-Conley, Harris School of Public Policy; Ashley Doss, Mathematics; Stacey Ergang, Office of Reynolds Club & Student Activities; Lewis Fortner, Office of the Dean of Students in the College; Candice Gard, Pritzker School of Medicine; Norval Glover, Residential Commons; Lori Hurvitz, College Programming Office; Gilbert Jordan, Reynolds Club; Kathryn Kraynik, Statistics; Charmaine Lane Residential Commons; Elise LaRose, Office of the Dean of Students in the College; Alison LaTendresse Visual Arts; Julie Less, Economics; Sarah Lippert, Office of the Dean of Students in the College; Mary Lott, office of the Dean of the College; Arthur Lundberg, Office of Reynolds Club & Student Activities; Linnea Martin, Sociology; Rosa Yadira Ortiz, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; Jessica Pounds, Chicago Booth; Johanna Schoss, Geographical Studies, International Relations, Masters of Arts Program in the Social Sciences; Dillan Siegler, Career Advising & Planning Services; Meyosha Smiley, Geographical Studies, International Relations, Masters of Arts Program in the Social Sciences; Kate Soto, English; Evelyn Steward, School of Social Service Administration; Miranda Swanson, Office of the Dean of Students in the Humanities; Brenda Thomas, James Franck Institute; Jean Treese, Office of the Dean of Students in the College; Sherry Wanderling, Biological Science; Melinda Wesonga, College Adviser; Michele Wittels, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics; David Wolf, Visual Arts; Mazurie Wright, Residential Commons; Nita Yack, Computer Science.