2014 Presidential Award Recipients

by Notre Dame News

The University strives to create a culture of appreciation and celebration through award and recognition programs. Recipients receive a cash award and a keepsake, and are acknowledged at the annual Service Recognition Dinner. Eight members of the staff were honored.

The Presidential Values Award

In recognition of employees whose performance reflects the University’s core values of integrity, accountability, teamwork, leadership in mission and leadership in excellence.

Thomas Bullock, Staff Accountant, Accountancy

Thomas Bullock

The Tax Assistance Program has grown exponentially over the years, preparing more than 4,000 tax returns for 2013. Each year the program’s 90 volunteers—students, faculty members and local accountants—operate nine service centers. Special “SWAT” teams serve disabled taxpayers in their homes and hospital rooms. As a full-time staff member, Bullock serves as an excellent role model to student volunteers. His interaction with and assistance to Notre Dame’s international students has proven especially valuable.

Those who work with Bullock notice his commitment to the University’s values while making significant contributions for the betterment of Notre Dame. During the height of the tax preparation season, Bullock is actively involved with many volunteers. As the full-time staff person working with this program, he is often seen as the individual responsible for coordinating volunteers and logistics. His efforts are essential in ensuring the Tax Assistance Program’s continuous success.

Butch Layman, Construction Administrator, Planning, Design and Construction

Butch Layman

Layman has literally left an indelible mark on the campus locations where anyone can walk, drive or bicycle. Hired in 1997 after leading the renovation of Bond Hall as the superintendent of the general contractor hired to do the project, Layman was the University’s first construction administrator.

He has been an important watchdog of the University’s capital construction program for the past 17 years and has overseen countless projects such as the construction of the Hammes Bookstore, Eck Visitors Center, Coleman-Morse Center, Beichner Community Center, Food Services Support Facility, Ave Maria Press, Malloy Hall, Hank Family Aquatic Research Center, Hammes Mowbray Hall, Guglielmino Athletics Complex and other major capital buildings, totaling more than $1 million square feet.

His greatest achievement, however, has been his leadership of the Angela, Twyckenham and Douglas Roads projects, totaling more than $30 million in new roads and sidewalks that circumnavigate campus, for the benefit of future generations. His work on these complex, risk-filled infrastructure projects was the central reason they were completed on time, on budget and with superior quality.

The risks inherent in the construction business can create tensions among the personnel involved in projects. Despite the many challenges he faced, Layman is known throughout campus as the man forever cheerful, always eager to serve and possessing unwavering integrity. No matter the technical or personal challenges he has faced during his tenure at Notre Dame, he has neither lost his cool nor a genuine love for his work. He has been driven to seek and demand the best for the University, with fairness and kindness in his heart.

The Presidential Achievement Award

In recognition of breakthrough initiatives, extraordinary innovations and significant contributions to the University’s long-term success.

Mark Krcmaric, Managing Director and COO, Investment

Mark Krcmaric

Krcmaric is a person of integrity in all he does. He is the definition of servant leadership, giving fully of his time to his staff as well as to Notre Dame’s mission while being an example for the entire office. He is team oriented and clearly dedicated to his staff and their personal development goals.

The global financial crisis of 2008–09 caused the most dramatic change in financial regulation in the past 80 years. Krcmaric’s steady and consistent leadership during these past few years in managing all of the new regulatory, tax, legal and accounting changes affecting institutional investors, including the now $9 billion Notre Dame Endowment Pool, has been exemplary. He helped guide the Investment Office through the most challenging period in its history due to uncertainty about regulatory requirements in a time of extreme volatility in global markets. Respected nationally by his peers, his advice as an expert in the field is frequently sought by market participants, national accounting firms and regulators, including foreign jurisdictions.

Francisco Medina, Service Associate, Food Services South Dining Hall

Francisco Medina

Francisco Medina emigrated to the United States from Mexico as a teenager. Since joining the University, he has earned the respect of all his co-workers due to his positive and enthusiastic approach to work. He believes in doing things right the first time and is always leading toward enhanced efficiency.

When he was first hired, Medina was assigned to assist during student concession stand supply pick-ups. He exceeded expectations by thinking ahead, anticipating the needs of the organization and implementing creative processes. As an example, he now checks safety kits and all other supplies days ahead of time to make sure all provisions are in house and ready when needed. He regularly works ahead by asking if there are any room arrangements to be done in the beginning of the day, rather than waiting to be assigned, thus increasing productivity. Unit managers frequently team Medina with others because he sets the pace, getting better productivity from everyone without conflicts. He is often trusted to translate for coworkers with language barriers.

His supervisors state, “He is the standard of excellence we would like all of our service staff to be.” Medina is constantly looking to improve—to get things cleaner, to move things quicker, to make floors shinier—while simultaneously displaying humility and gratitude.

Michelle Sorensen, Lead Project Manager, Project Management Office

Michelle Sorensen

Sorensen joined the University in 2007 as a project manager. An integral member of the OIT’s Project Management Office, she is a lead project manager. In spring of 2013, Sorensen was focused on two high-profile international studies expansion initiatives. She was closing the London project while ramping up the Rome project when Ron Kraemer, chief information officer, requested she conduct an IT services scope and risk assessment for the Morris Inn renovation project. Based on those results, Kraemer asked her to clear her calendar so she could take the lead IT project management role for the Morris Inn project.

In the 13 weeks following, Sorensen worked with teams in OIT and in divisions across campus to craft a dynamic project plan, and then coordinated and led those teams in the installation, testing and implementation of nearly 20 new systems ranging from property management software to cable televisions. She also implemented a weekly summary report to ensure the communication channel kept pace with the construction schedule.

Her contributions as lead IT project manager were recognized as one of the key factors in the Morris Inn being awarded the coveted four diamond rating. She is not only a talented project manager; she is an advocate for the project management profession and is committed to developing other project managers. Sorensen serves as a project services lead. In that role, she has coached and mentored colleagues in best practice project management, thereby expanding the University’s project management capabilities. Her efforts have contributed to the building of a solid core of project management excellence within the OIT.

The Presidential Leadership Award

In recognition of regular staff supervisors, exempt or non-exempt staff, for their outstanding servant leadership.

Shannon Cullinan, Associate Vice President and Executive Director, Campaign Administration, University Relations

Shannon Cullinan

Cullinan is the kind of leader who makes Notre Dame a great work environment. He continues to work, tirelessly and selflessly, to raise money for the University’s future development. He also demonstrates steady, thoughtful and person-focused leadership. He challenges his team in new and exciting ways to make work assignments even more worthwhile.

In the past year, Cullinan has successfully coordinated the launch of the foundational phase of Notre Dame’s new comprehensive fundraising campaign. The leadership required of him in this endeavor —both in Development and with external leadership groups—was a huge undertaking, but he has shouldered it without displaying even the slightest strain.

Cullinan continuously goes above and beyond the call of duty to bring Notre Dame to new heights. As a servant-leader, he consistently puts his staff’s needs above his own. He is consistently mindful of wisely stewarding University resources, and seeks the advice of academic leaders in helping to shape the University’s vision. When projects become tiresome or overwhelming, he has a habit of reminding his team that “everything we do is for Our Lady.” It is a call to action, a reminder of why we serve, and a statement of Cullinan’s deep representation of the University’s values.

Diana Garrastegui, Supervisor Research Projects, Psychology

Diana Garrastegui

Diana Garrastegui’s willingness to work as a team member and not just a team leader is a key factor that contributes to her success as a leader. She supervises, but is also quick to roll up her sleeves to get the job done. She assists with making labels, stuffing envelopes, placing phone calls and knocking on doors to collect data. By acting as a team player and leading through example, she effectively inspires the whole staff to emulate her conscientiousness and drive their own participation within the research process.

Garrastegui encourages her staff to grow. From her initial designing of the process to the various leadership training programs she has taken at the University, she has found friendly ways to share her knowledge while helping staff members develop and hone their own skills. She encourages input by probing staff members for suggestions on more effective ways to complete daily tasks. She urges staff to take advantage of opportunities offered by the University so they can grow both professionally and personally. By encouraging staff members to become the best versions of themselves, she creates an environment where each individual feels appreciated.

She also keeps staff updated on any information having to do with the grants that fund the team’s employment. This practice adds to a friendly and comfortable work environment where each member knows exactly what is happening and how their individual work contributes to the research process as a whole.
Garrastegui was the pioneering leader involved in creating and implementing a system designed to efficiently collect, secure and process data from the Notre Dame Study of Health and Well-Being (NDHWB) for Cindy Bergeman’s Adult Development and Aging lab. She joined the lab nine years ago at the inception of the NDHWB, and has since illustrated her leadership skills in hiring and training a team to grow the process and improve productivity in the lab.

She has regularly demonstrated her resolve and creativity in effectively solving the challenges faced in managing such a large, complicated dataset. Her meticulous care in keeping all aspects of the study organized and accessible has allowed for ease in the data analyses. Garrastegui’s work truly epitomizes the University’s research mission statement to, “Grow, strengthen, promote and safeguard the research enterprise at Notre Dame.”

Gail Pursell, Floor Chef, Food Services South Dining Hall

Gail Pursell

On a daily basis Gail Pursell exemplifies leadership. She runs her department like a fine-tuned engine—assessing the strengths and challenges of her diverse team and utilizing her team members where it most benefits the department.

Pursell shows great attention to detail and pride in her work—probably why she is called on to help the Catering Team. She continually monitors the work of her team to ensure quality. When it falls short of expectations, she provides on-the-spot guidance. The cleanliness of the pantry is a fine example of her department’s teamwork and work ethic.

Her leadership is also evident during her absence—the department operates smoothly without her. She has trained not one, but three backup leads to run the department in her absence. Her department shows the utmost dedication—changing hours and working overtime as needed for special events. None of her staff hesitates to put in extra effort to get the job done because of the integrity and pride in the work which she has instilled. Having an entire department of people with that kind of dedication is not a coincidence—it is the culture Pursell has cultivated. The pantry boasts a low staff turnover rate and excellent attendance and punctuality. It is seen by most as a privilege to be a part of Gail’s Pantry.