Campus and Student Life Staff Awards Winners

Thank you to all the staff and students who nominated deserving individuals for the 2019-20 Campus and Student Life Staff Awards! This year's winners and nominees in each of the five categories are named in the descriptions below.

Innovation Award

This award is given to a staff member who has generated novel and valuable ideas, and has used these ideas to develop new or improved processes, methods, systems, programs, or services. The award recognizes creative ideas that have made UChicago a better place to live and work.

2019-2020 Winner: Khanh Ngiem

Khanh is a Psychologist and the Associate Director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Outreach in UChicago Student Wellness. Nominators praised Khanh’s innate ability to simplify complex information. For example, she created a graphic for students that explains the services UChicago Student Wellness offers and the possible pathways students can use to obtain those services—making outreach more approachable. Khanh also developed a graphic for staff when UChicago Student Wellness moved to a remote working environment to illustrate how different responsibilities would be handled.

As the leader of the UChicago Student Wellness Staff Diversity Committee, Khanh has used her ingenious skills to develop trainings that are interactive and powerful. In one training, she created a simulation in which participants took on assigned roles to help staff gain a deeper understanding of the challenges undocumented students face. A nominator wrote that Khanh’s leadership in these trainings made them “unforgettable, and allowed for important follow-up conversations.”

Another nominator wrote, “Khanh is an extraordinary leader: she promotes open conversation, spurs creativity and collaboration. She guides gently and surely, thinks clearly and is remarkably efficient and exceptionally responsible. She garners enthusiastic participation among team members.”

2019-2020 Innovation Award Nominees:

  • Aimee Saari, UChicago Student Wellness

Outstanding Newcomer Award

This award is given to an outstanding staff member who has worked at least six months but no more than three years in their current department. Nominees must demonstrate excellence in overall job performance; show willingness to assist beyond normal expectations; and show initiative and creativity in his or her work.

2019-2020 Winner: Jacqui Payne

In less than one year as an Assistant Director of Residence Life, Jacqui has proven her tireless work ethic; her unwavering commitment to students, the staff who report to her, and her colleagues in HRL; and her quick sense of humor. She manages to find the positive in the most challenging situations, approaching them as teachable moments and an opportunity to have constructive conversations.

Jacqui’s first Autumn Quarter was unfortunately marked with a tragedy, and staff and students witnessed how incredibly compassionate Jacqui was in assisting so many during that difficult time. She spent countless hours behind the scenes checking in with students and staff to make sure they were supported and had the resources they needed to cope.

One nominee wrote, “Jacqui gives all that she has to the students, the department, and the University, and she is a light even in the darkest times. I am exceedingly proud of the work she has done since she has arrived and I look forward to what she will do next.”

2019-2020 Outstanding Newcomer Award Nominees:

  • Giovanna Barnes, Office of the Bursar
  • Robin Hardwick, Housing & Residence Life
  • Timika Hoffman-Zoller, Student Centers
  • Nicole Kaupp, Athletics & Recreation
  • Meeta Kumar, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Andrea Magana, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Gregory McCarter Jr., Housing & Residence Life
  • Emily Schulze, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Shanelle Taylor, Athletics & Recreation
  • Tanisha Winstone, UChicago Student Wellness

Outstanding Service to the University Community Award

This award is given to a staff member who has demonstrated concern and commitment to fulfill needs and ensure satisfaction when providing services to members of the University community including faculty, staff, and students.

2019-2020 Winner: Belinda Cortez Vazquez

Belinda is incredibly deserving of this recognition, having spent the last 16 years dedicated to supporting the UChicago community and responding to crises. She has been instrumental in developing best-in-class student emergency response programs, including the Dean-on-Call and Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call programs, which are available 24/7/365. These resources are designed to assist undergraduate and graduate and professional students with a variety of urgent and emergent issues, and she and her team of 25-plus regularly engage with partners across the institution in support of this mission. She has become widely known as the “go-to” person when it comes to navigating a critical incident, and staff and faculty from across the University regularly seek Belinda’s advice and counsel regarding difficult situations. She manages each situation with a thoughtful and nuanced approach.

One nominator wrote, “Belinda often works behind the scenes, and she is humble when it comes to talking about just how much time and energy she spends identifying and mobilizing resources on behalf of students—and also checking in with colleagues who do this work. Her generosity of time and spirit are second to none.”

2019-2020 Outstanding Service to the University Community Award Nominees:

  • Christopher Toote, UChicago Dining

Outstanding Service to Students Award

This award is presented to the staff member who has provided outstanding service to individual students or student groups on a consistent basis, whether through personal advising, development of programs, or improvements to university systems and policies that affect students.

2019-2020 Winner: Brian Bock

Brian is the Associate Athletic Director for Recreation and Fitness. As the leader of UChicago’s recreational sports and fitness programs, Brian is passionately focused on competitive and fun opportunities for students to be active, engage with their peers, and become more confident with their identity and place on campus.

Brian’s presence and persona have been bright spots for many students throughout his years at the University. To them, Brian is a trusted confidante and mentor who is always willing to listen with patience and concern. He’s a positive role model with a friendly face, warm smile, and calm demeanor who draws everyone in with his infectious energy. He’s a reliable and credible resource for students with a wealth of knowledge about the department and the University. As the leader of recreation and fitness, Brian is constantly looking for ways to improve offerings and create new opportunities to cater to a wide audience, never becoming complacent with how each quarter or year is planned.

One student nominator wrote, “Brian continues to be one of the shining stars in the UChicago community, and the work he does fundamentally impacts and improves the lives of so many students here on campus.”

Another added that he has an “incredibly positive spirit” and is one of the most “selfless people you will ever meet.”

2019-2020 Outstanding Service to Students Award Nominees:

  • Hannah Barton, International House
  • Kappy Fahey, Student Disability Services
  • Dr. Ashley Martin, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Gregory McCarter, Housing & Residence Life
  • Sandra Perryman, Housing & Residence Life
  • Crystal Szewczyk, Housing & Residence Life

Stephen P. Klass STAR Award (for Service, Teamwork, Attitude, Reliability)

In honor of Stephen P. Klass, who served as Vice President and Dean of Students form 2002–2006, this award is given to the staff member who has, with a positive and forward-thinking attitude, consistently excelled, made outstanding contributions in the area of service, promoted teamwork and collaboration, and worked quietly behind the scenes to improve the unit or their department.

2019-2020 Winner: Heath Rossner

In multiple heartfelt nominations, Heath was praised for his steady and transformative leadership. His high expectations for staff and his ability to include staff at all levels in decision making has greatly elevated the work of the Housing & Residence Life department. He’s a bridgebuilder—constantly working to form and strengthen partnerships with other campus offices, all for the benefit of students.

Nominators also described Heath as humble, kind, and consistently reliable, not blinking an eye when he receives a request for help that goes beyond his job description. When there was an unexpected passing of a student last autumn, Heath demonstrated what this unwavering support looks like by taking care of details, both big and small, to help ease the burden for many. A nominator wrote, “this was beyond customer service. This is the core of Heath—a caring and compassionate individual.”

2019-2020 STAR nominees:

  • Leticia Bennett, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Carol Bridgeman, Student Disciplinary Affairs
  • Dr. Gomez Charleston, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Sandra Fernandez, Student Disability Service
  • Robin Hardrick, Housing & Residence Life
  • Yu-Yun Liu, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Dr. Ashley Martin, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Gregory McCarter, Housing & Residence Life
  • Doretha Moore, Housing & Residence Life
  • Vickie Nolan, International House
  • Edwina Quansah, UChicago Student Wellness
  • Crystal Szewczyk, Housing & Residence Life
  • Charnessa Warren, Student Disability Services
  • Tanisha Winston, UChicago Student Wellness

To read about each year's winners, click on any of the links below: