'Students know they can count on you'

November 19, 2021

Nearly 70 staff members were recognized for outstanding acts and achievements at the 2021 Chancellor’s Staff Recognition Awards.

A graphic showing a blue background with a tiny, suited figure walking on golden stars.

UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso said staff members, many behind the scenes, are instrumental in moving the campus forward. And it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate their extraordinary work.

Nearly 70 staff members were recognized at the Chancellor’s Staff Recognition Awards, which highlight acts or achievements that go beyond expectations and make significant contributions to campus' mission. Staff, faculty and retirees gathered from around the nation to virtually support and congratulate their colleagues at the Friday ceremony.

Grasso said the campus’ dedicated staff helped the university navigate one of the most difficult periods in our history and come out on the other side standing on solid footing.

“You have been our backbone as we continue to fulfill UM-Dearborn’s mission to provide an excellent learning, working and teaching environment.”

And the Chancellor Staff Recognition Awards go to:

Innovation Award, Office of International Affairs Director Francisco Lopez

 Photo of Francisco Lopez
Photo of Francisco Lopez

The Innovation Award, which is presented to an individual staff member who has demonstrated a commitment to creative thinking and addressing challenges, was presented to Office of International Affairs Director Francisco Lopez.

Here are excerpts from staff who nominated him for the award:
“During the Pandemic, International students were faced with many challenges. Francisco implemented a plan to assist each student to ensure they met the Government Student Visa requirements.”

“To make innovation happen takes time, time to develop insights, generate ideas and determine what will work best. Francisco is very cognizant and empathetic to the emotional and social needs of international students.” 

Student Success Award, Office of Academic Success Director Jessica LeGrange

Jessica LeGrange
Photo of Jessica LeGrange

The recipient of this year’s Student Success Award, given to a person who’s impacted student success by evaluating student support systems for optimal use and increasing access to educational and financial support and resources, is Office of Academic Success Director Jessica LeGrange.

To quote excerpts from her nominations:
“Jess' vision of the Office of Academic Success was made a reality and encompasses the learning centers (math, science and writing), tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, as well as facilitating curriculum development, program review, program assessment and coordinating with advising/faculty to ensure academic success. Even through COVID, Jess ensured that Supplemental Instruction and tutoring remained available and, more importantly, accessible to students.”

Staff Development Award, Information Technology Services Desktop Support Specialist Anitra Wells

Anitra Wells
Photo of Anitra Wells

The Staff Development Award, for an individual who’s encouraged and promoted the development of other UM-Dearborn staff, goes to Information Technology Services Desktop Support Specialist Anitra Wells. 

Her nominators said:
“Anitra was a founding member of the Web Conferencing Support Team (which started early June 2020). Under her effort, she assisted multiple faculty, staff, and students by teaching them how to effectively use web conferencing tools during the pandemic…” 

“Web conferencing software is still widely used across campus. Based on the feedback and continued requests, the implementation of The Web Conferencing Team was successful and greatly appreciated.”

Advancing the Mission Award, EXP+ Programming Team/Mardigian Library & Career Services.

This group award is presented to a team whose performance has extended beyond expectations and has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to advancing the UM-Dearborn mission.  The recipient of this year’s Advancing the Mission Award is the EXP+ Programming Team/Mardigian Library & Career Services. Team members include: Kelsey Parker, Emily Chippa, Jen McCloud, Josh Palmer and Meghan Lavelle.

Quoting an excerpt from the nomination:
“They have been a model of teamwork and cooperation particularly as we moved from fully remote to being back on campus...This team, and EXP+, formed in the darkest days of the pandemic. It required believing in a collaboration that was hard to imagine while we all worked remotely.”

Community Engagement Award, Office of Metropolitan Impact Assistant Director Molly Manley

Molly Manley
Photo of Molly Manley

The Community Engagement Award, presented to an individual staff member who has engaged with local partners and the community, went to Office of Metropolitan Impact Assistant Director Molly Manley. 

To quote excerpts from her nomination:
“Molly has initiated, developed and sustained literally countless community partnerships in support of meeting faculty, student and community goals and objectives for research, teaching, learning and service... Molly is particularly attuned to first-generation, BIPOC, and otherwise marginalized student populations. As a former first-generation student, she is sensitive to the challenges students face in coming to a large post-secondary institution.”

Chancellor Grasso thanked the award winners and the campus community as a whole for transforming the lives of our students.

“You should be proud of the way you support and empower them as they strive to reach their goals and secure their bright futures,” Grasso said. “Our students notice. Whether it’s getting support from our financial aid team, finding help in the library or walking safely to class and seeing the beauty of our campus, and everything in between, students know they can count on you to guide them on their journey to a degree.”

In addition to the outstanding work of Dearborn Wolverines, nearly 60 staff members were recognized and celebrated for their milestone anniversaries, which represent a combined total of 755 years of service to the University of Michigan.

Campus milestone anniversaries

Class of 2016, celebrating five years of milestones includes:
Frank Barbee, Andrew Beverly, Jessica Bixby, Matthew Cunningham, Sarah Davey, Matthew Duncan, Shajib Ghosh, Sheryl Kubiak, Joel Mangao, Robert Mehall, Tahnee Prokopow, Laurie Sutch, Rebecca Timmons, Christopher Tyler, Erin Vestrand and Warren Wei  

Class of 2011, celebrating 10 years of service includes:
Katherine Allen, William Carter, Christine Dunning, Ronald Ernst, Michael Hicks, Amanda McBride, Catherine McPherson , Stephen Perkola , Keith Putman , Laura Stupyra, Tommy Williams 

The Class of 2006 celebrating 15 years of service includes:
Shareia Carter, Rhoderick Foney, Joseph Goraj, Tiffany Purnell, Sue Steiner, Maureen Sytsma

Class of 2001, celebrating 20 years of service includes:
Kristine Day, Tony DeLaRosa, Rich Durant, Rory Hoffman, Odell McGlothian III, Dorothy McLeer, Carrie Shumaker, Robert Simpson III, Belinda Soliz, Claudia Walters 

Class of 1996 celebrating 25 years of service includes: 
Suzette Crandell, Kathleen Kern, Sharon Lobdell, Felicia Sanders, Patricia Turnbull 

Celebrating 30-plus years of service includes:
John Berger (35), Robert Perry (35), Susan Wells (35), Mary Howard (45) and Merinda Moccia (45)

The Chancellor’s Staff Recognition Awards planning was led by Co-Chairs Tony Delarosa, Sheryl Kubiak and Linda Jacoby. Committee members also include: Nada Bachir, Rachel Buzzeo, Andy Dean, Sarah Tuxbury, Nina Loveberry, Arlo Clark-Foos, Jackie Kortes and Lisa Copeland.