First staff recipients honored for excellence

Author: Gail Hinchion Mancini


Seven University of Notre Dame employees have been honored as the first winners of two new awards to honor individual staff excellence. The award recipients were announced last month at the annual Service Recognition and Presidential Awards Dinner.

Of the two awards, the Presidential Achievement Award acknowledges significant personal achievement. The Presidential Values Award honors employees who exemplify the Universitys mission and core values of integrity, accountability, teamwork, leadership in mission and leadership in excellence.

Recipients of Presidential Achievements are Michael Chapple , security professional with the Office of Information Technology; Ray Phillips , construction administrator with the University Architects office; and Judy Kenna , department administrator for aerospace and mechanical engineering.

Presidential Values Award winners are Pauline Alvarez , custodian with Building Services; David Harr , associate vice president, auxiliary services and facilities operations in Business Operations; MartinMartyOgren , manager of Transportation Services; and Tami Schmitz , director of RCIA and Emmaus programs for Campus Ministry. Each award carries a $1,000 cash prize.

Chapple, a 1997 graduate, has been instrumental in maintaining the safety and integrity of the Universitys business information. He is responsible for updating security standards in all areas where the University accepts credit cards. He also has created and managed the Universitys long-term information security advancement program. In both cases, his nominators stated, he has shown a gift for engaging the cooperation of a cross-section of University professionals.

A doctoral candidate in computer science, Chapple also teaches an undergraduate course incorporating Catholic social teaching in a discussion of information security ethics. Lending his technology know-how to the community, he has served on the technology committee for the new St. Pius X School and has helped local law enforcement representatives submit a grant for a program to identify online predators.

Phillips won the undying admiration of College of Engineering faculty when he solved a ceiling leak that had plagued the basement of Fitzpatrick Hall for 29 years. Some faculty believed the persistent problem affected funding applications and faculty recruitment.

The University made numerous diagnoses over the year, and tried many solutions, to no avail until Phillips stepped in. He climbed into nooks and crannies, dug investigation holes around the buildings exterior, performed a series of tests and, ultimately, pinpointed the source. He is honored both for his tenacity and for his sensitivity to the negative impact the problem has had on the Universitys teaching and research agenda.

Kennas business acumen has established her as a key source for establishing clarity in both departmental and research budget issues. Her understanding of and enthusiasm for technology allowed her to help develop an online file-sharing process for the departments appointment and promotions committeea useful advance, since faculty are located in three buildings. While valuing Kennas gifts as a departmental administrator, her colleagues also admire the contribution she has made as a University-wide resource who assists in the improvement of accounting and personnel practices across divisions and departments.

As a liaison with the Controllers Office, she helped develop the procedures that provide administrative staff and faculty with accounting information needed on a daily basis. Kenna is retiring this spring after 28 years of service to the University.

Alvarez is known for her friendly, ever-optimistic greetings among Grace Hall tenantsher primary custodial assignment. Her demeanor is living proof that excellence in leadership is often gracefully demonstrated by those who lead with their hearts.
Among her fellow professionals, she is admired for her thoroughness and efficiency. These qualities have earned her a spot in the Hesburgh Library office of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., where she has been chosen to clean three days a week.

As one of the first to volunteer when other buildings, shifts or other supervisors need help, she is a familiar face across campus.

Harr has been a lynchpin in the planning of expansions to Cedar Grove Cemetery and the Notre Dame Hammes Bookstore. His nomination for the Presidents Award acknowledges his planning and organizational skills on a volunteer project for which he is less well known: the annual United Way campaign.

Two years ago, during a period when employee participation and total dollars raised had been declining, Harr joined the Universitys United Way committee, immediately infusing its work with enthusiasm. He is credited with encouraging livelygrass rootsparticipation through projects that emphasize fun, personally organizing the logistical details of a weekendcosmicfund-raiser featuring bowling under black lights.

This years United Way campaign met the annual goal of $300,000 and exceeded it by $8,000. More importantly, those who followed Harrs lead became more committed to the organization and a little bit closer to one another.

Ogrens nominators explained how difficult it is to separate an understanding of his professional responsibilities, as manager of transportation services, from hiscontinuing spirit of giving.Both of them have him constantly on the move. He is a mainstay of volunteer support for Catholic Charities, Compassionate Friends, Holy Cross House, the Center for the Homeless, the Salvation Army and the Kiwanis Club. Many of his most outstanding acts of kindness are done friend-to-friend, especially for the handicapped, for whom household movement or transportation can be such an issue.

As the first director of the University Motor Pool, established in 2004, Ogren oversees an operation that manages some 1,000 vehicle rentals a year. This resource has allowed the University to limit the number of vehicles it buys. His safety initiatives have included a driver safety program resulting in a notable decline in damages to University vehicles.

Schmitz brings faculty, staff and students closer to their faith as she plans retreats, organizes prayer groups, and directs the education of those converting to Catholicism, touching the lives of literally hundreds each year. Her duties also call on her to assist the master of divinity lay ministry program, interview candidates for Moreau Seminary and work with the University Counseling Center on a faith-based grief counseling program. All this she achieves while serving as the very model of a collaborative team member and team leader ever-respectful of the dignity of those with whom she works.

Patient, persistent and unafraid to address challenging issues, Schmitz is especially appreciated by the Office of Student Affairs for her work developing a program on sexuality and relationships for all first-year students. This two-day program reflects the teaching of the Catholic Church while delivering the information in a way that is appropriate for college students and that considers the diverse beliefs of the Universitys student body.

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