Barbara Ebert-Balzano, Kristina Baker, Rebecca DeRose, Michele Rasmussen, Rosy Resch, Daniel Pearson

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.

2020-2021 Winner: Kristina Baker, Assistant Director of Systems and Support Services for UChicago Dining

Nominators recognized Kristina for her ability to swiftly adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic so that UChicago Dining could continue to serve the campus community effectively and safely. To ensure students had access to food during the pandemic without having to wait in crowded lines, Kristina thought to offer grab-and-go meals at select locations on campus. “Truly, the result was innovative and genius, because, for the students, the options were clear, simple, and captured their needs,” a nominator wrote.

Another nominator praised Kristina’s efforts to continue the food insecurity program during the pandemic, which gives low-income students access to free meals. 

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.

2020-2021 Winner: Barbara Ebert-Balzano, Student Financial Services Senior Director in the Office of the University Bursar

Barbara, who started at the University in January 2020, oversees the Student Financial Services Team, which is responsible for all customer service inquiries from current and prospective students, faculty, and staff. With the COVID-19 pandemic, she led the team in providing financial services to thousands of financially stressed parents and students, both domestically and abroad. Barbara also primarily managed the Emergency Assistance Program, which saw thousands of applications during the pandemic.

“Barbara is extremely dedicated, professional, and, above all, always exemplifies a positive attitude,” a nominator wrote. “Her continued ability to remain calm and foster a collaborative problem-solving approach was a primary reason we successfully managed our responsibilities during a trying time.”

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.

2020-2021 Winner: Daniel Pearson, Courier, Housing & Residence Life

Danny has worked in CSL for more than 15 years and was commended for being a kind, genuine, and hard-working staff member who will tackle any task, no matter how big or how small, with a positive attitude.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, HRL was tasked with packing students’ rooms and moving their items to storage when the University shifted to remote learning. Later the department moved the items back to students’ rooms at the start of the 2020-21 academic year. Danny’s nominators wrote that he spent countless hours packing and organizing the storage rooms and helped students locate their items when needed, ensuring that all COVID-19 safety protocols were followed.

One nominator wrote, “I’m not sure HRL can exist without Danny. I’m grateful to know him, work with him, and laugh with him on a weekly basis.”

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.

2020-2021 Winner: Rebecca DeRose, Student Involvement Advisor, Center for Leadership and Involvement

Rebecca began her position in CLI in 2020, one week before students and staff began remote learning and working. Despite being a new employee, Rebecca excelled at forming relationships with staff and students during this time. As an RSO advisor, she helped students maintain some semblance of community. Nominators praised Rebecca for her creativity and efforts to get students’ input when planning both large-scale and small events, which have included an Instagram Live dance party, online scavenger hunts, and trivia nights.

“I think the most impressive thing about all of this is that Rebecca navigated challenges with a smile on her face and unstoppable energy,” one nominator wrote. “There were times this year when our team was burnt out, and she was always able to get us back on track.”

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.

2020-2021 Winner: Rosy Resch, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Finance and Internal Operations

Rosy’s service and commitment to Maroon varsity athletics is without parallel. Now in her 47th year at the University, Rosy was a varsity athlete in three sports (volleyball, softball and badminton) and graduated from the College with a degree in Russian Language and Literature. Her professional career at the University has included coaching (volleyball and softball), service on multiple committees, and representing the institution at the University Athletic Association, our primary Division III conference, as well as the NCAA.

Rosy served as the Interim Director of Athletics & Recreation during the 2020-2021 academic year while the COVID-19 pandemic was complicating nearly every aspect of the Athletics & Recreation department. Nominators praised Rosy for working tirelessly to create a safe environment for student athletes to play with their teams and to find normalcy during a disruptive year. In addition, she worked both internally with the University’s coaches and externally within the University community to ensure that intercollegiate athletics could continue in the safest way possible.

“Rosy is a tremendous leader with a steady hand and a clear, defined voice,” a nominator wrote. “She loves the University of Chicago and the opportunity to serve our student athletes. She is a remarkable role model, mentor, and friend.”

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