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 U of C a better place to live and work. 

2014-2015 Winner: Melva Hardy

As the Executive Administrator for Student Health and Counseling Services, Melva plays a crucial role in guiding the development of SHCS as a business that efficiently meets the needs of students. From her eternally optimistic attitude to the behind-the-scenes work she’s done in establishing connections between the three units in SHCS and the town hall meetings she organized for our campus partners, Melva has been consistent in her dedication to innovation. That dedication is second only to her dedication to student welfare and employee satisfaction. She is a great listener and incredibly ambitious, and striving to make SHCS a model Student Health Service.

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.  

2014-2015 Winner: Zachary Swartz

Zach Swartz is the Director of Systems and Technology for the University Registrar’s Office, and is the cross-functional leader for the Academic Information System implementation project. Zach joined the University last summer and was hired into CSL with the charge to become a leader immediately in the high-profile, high-stakes project, which involves every academic unit and department on campus. Despite the breadth and depth of this project, Zach got himself up to speed more quickly than many newcomers. Throughout this first year, Zach has continued to be a strong leader for the AIS project, and has developed such collaborative and engaged relationships with the partners in the project that he is universally appreciated and trusted by colleagues.

Outstanding Service to the University Community

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. 

2014-2015 Winner: Bob James

For more than two decades, Bob James has served the University as the manager of Mandel Hall. Bob’s work directly and positively influences the campus community. From Supreme Court Justices, world renowned musicians, and aspiring ballerinas to hundreds of student organizations, Bob works tirelessly to provide a high quality experience for all clients and attendees of events in Mandel Hall. His work makes these performances possible, and he has made Mandel a premier venue on campus. He has mentored hundreds of students, and has trained many staff members who went on to pursue professional jobs in theater and event production. He cares deeply that the programming offered to the campus community is diverse, that students are engaged in every step of the process, and that all users of Mandel Hall have pride in what they produce in the space.

Outstanding Service to Students

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. 

2014-2015 Winner: Rachel Heath

As the Spiritual Life Coordinator and the staff advisor to the Spiritual Life Council, Rachel’s work directly and positively influence the campus community. Students recognize her dedication to serving their spiritual needs, her strong mentorship, and her empowering approach to advising. She builds personal relationships with the students on the Spiritual Life Council, who appreciate her influence as she encourages a balanced life, supports their emotional and intellectual needs, and helps them through challenges. 

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.  

2014-2015 Winner: Gillie Abdiraxman-Issa

Saying Gillie goes above and beyond does not quite do her justice. Staff speak of her professionalism and support for them as colleagues, but more importantly of her support for them as individual people. Gillie is generous with her time, knowledge, and expertise to help her fellow colleagues. She greets everyone with a smile, ensuring that students feel a sense of belonging and a connection to the university community. She is a cheerleader, always willing to jump in and help out however she can. Gillie is always positive, professional, and upbeat. It is impossible to tell if she is having a bad day. She is reliable and dependable, knowledgeable and dedicated, and a role model for those in her department.

UChicagoSocial: Campus and Student Life