Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Nicole Hager named the UIS Employee of the Month for October 2020

Nicole Hager has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for October 2020. She is the director of academic support services for UIS Athletics. 

Hager’s nominator says she is passionate about helping student-athletes meet their academic goals, which led to a record-setting spring 2020 semester. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Prairie Star athletes recorded a record 3.52 combined GPA for the semester. The academic performance of student-athletes has risen steadily over the past several years, and the department has now accomplished a 3.30 GPA or higher for six straight semesters. 

“The academic success of the Athletic Department has never been higher and that is due to Nicole’s tireless effort in working with our students to obtain results,” said Peyton Deterding, her supervisor and UIS director of athletics.

Deterding credits Hager’s positive attitude in achieving results with student-athletes as it relates to their academic achievements. 

“She continues to put the students’ needs first and is often seen as a guiding figure throughout their academic career while at UIS,” Deterding said. 

On a daily basis, Hager is the main point of contact for student-athletes within the department. 

 “It is that daily interaction that students have come to depend on and Nicole continues to be a great example of what an outstanding employee should be,” Deterding said. 

For the second semester in a row, all 17 UIS sports programs had a GPA of 3.00 or higher during the spring semester. A total of 195 student-athletes had a GPA of 3.00 or higher, which is 84.8 percent of the student-athlete body. A department record 39 student-athletes achieved a perfect 4.00 during the spring semester. 

“The productivity is very apparent as even when working short-staffed as a one-person shop, we have continued to set departmental academic records,” Deterding said.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Robin Vansacik named the UIS Employee of the Month for September 2020

Robin Vansacik has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for September 2020. She is an academic advisor in the Center for Academic Success and Advising. 

Vansacik’s nominator describes her as “a very compassionate and caring employee,” adding that her work with students as an academic advisor is “phenomenal.” 

“She truly cares about the students she interacts with, not just on their academic performance, but on their overall well-being. You cannot walk past Robin without smiling, as her bubbly personality (and saying ‘hello’ to everyone) brightens your day,” her nominator said.

Vansacik’s supervisor, Tarah Sweeting, echoes that praise, calling her “an excellent employee and advisor.” 

“She is patient, kind and knowledgeable when working with students in an advising capacity,” Sweeting said. “She is also an excellent advocate for her department and works closely with faculty to ensure students are on the path to success.” 

She routinely volunteers to participate in various advising community committees. Most recently she organized and led the Recognition Committee, taking the time to note and award the accomplishments of various advisors across campus. 

“Her determination to make advisors feel valued and appreciated contributes to the overall advising culture of campus and helps us build community and a positive work environment,” Sweeting said. 

“Her leadership in this area is outstanding.” Vansacik’s supervisor says she is highly productive in handling her advising load. She is also very reliable and does whatever she can to make herself available to students. 

“Robin is a team player,” Sweeting said. “She contributes thoughtfully to group discussions, volunteers to work closely with others and encourages other staff and students in their endeavors. She is a strong communicator and is always thoughtful and professional.” 

Outside of work, Vansacik is active in her local high school athletic booster club and regularly volunteers to assist with various athletic activities.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Marie Watson named the UIS Employee of the Month for August 2020

Marie Watson has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for August 2020. She is the associate director of Student Life.

Watson’s nominator calls her “the epitome of Leadership Lived,” while her supervisor says “she’s brought new life” to every area of Student Life under her leadership, including the Student Activities Committee, the leadership program and the cultural/diversity and Greek registered student organizations for which she is the liaison.

“The nature of Marie’s job requires her to be present within the student community outside of the traditional 8 a.m.-5 p.m. workday,” her nominator said. “You will find Marie on campus after hours, on the weekends, sacrificing time at home with her family to be a support system and advocate for students. Marie does not complain or tire, instead she does quite the opposite, she thrives.”

Not only does Watson work long hours to help support student groups and programming on campus, but she also creates an environment where students feel “welcome, included and comfortable.”

“Many times when I walk by her office, she has students sitting at her table talking about life, work or school,” her nominator said. “She has created an atmosphere where students want to engage, participate, give of their time and grow personally and professionally. Marie has gone above and beyond to help support students in bringing diverse programs, speakers and professional development opportunities.”

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she challenged everyone in the Student Affairs Division to engage with students virtually. She started the Virtual Engagement Committee and hosted weekly meetings that allowed all members to connect, share ideas and successes. She also hosted a series of Instagram lives, which were popular with students.

“She had guests from all over campus and included student leaders,” said her nominator. “She found ways that were not traditional to engage our students and by doing so set the bar for the other U of I campuses and campuses across the U.S. Her work has created a new norm that will be incorporated in the future, so that students from all over, not just residential, but also commuter and online students can participate in the college experience.”

In addition to her Student Life responsibilities, Watson has also chaired a job search committee and served on various other campus committees. In the community, she has served on the planning committee for the Springfield Art Association’s Fine Art Fair.

“Marie is highly dependable and productive,” said Cynthia Thompson, her supervisor. “Even with a family and the added responsibilities of COVID-19, she has managed to complete all tasks assigned to her – as well as a few new and innovative ones.”

Thursday, September 10, 2020

AJ Hamm named the UIS Employee of the Month for July 2020

AJ Hamm has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for July 2020. He is a building service worker on campus.

His nominator says he is always eager to help, loves UIS and is also a student, works well with employees from all over campus and has a strong desire to stay busy.

“AJ has a great personality and good communication skills when relating to customers all over campus,” said Jason Gibson, his supervisor. “He always wants to be helpful and understands the importance of a positive attitude.”

Hamm played an integral role helping to shut down on campus operations in March 2020 during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AJ was very adamant that he be brought into work instead of any co-workers that were considered high risk,” Gibson said. “His attitude and willingness to work was very helpful because there were several instances when things had to be completed on campus.”

Gibson adds that Hamm never needs to be given instruction more than once and is a team player with co-workers and everyone on campus.

“He relates to everyone in a friendly and respectful manner,” Gibson said. “He greets people with a smile and is always willing to help.”

Hamm is always on time and completes work orders promptly. For several years, he was the only employee covering weekends and could always be relied on to keep things running smoothly.

“When a task could easily be stressful he just meets it head on and does whatever is needed to complete the task,” Gibson said.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Justin Rose named the UIS Employee of the Month for June 2020

Justin Rose has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for June 2020. He is the director of diversity and inclusion in the UIS Diversity Center.

Rose’s nominator says he is without a doubt one of the hardest working people at UIS. In February, he led the UIS Black History Month Celebration “with record attendance, passion and unmatched energy,” according to his nominator.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve and is always thinking about what he can do for others,” his nominator said. “I would even go so far as to say UIS is a better institution and community because of the energy Justin J. Rose puts into his work.”

Rose’s supervisor, the late Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Clarice Ford, called him “a beacon of light for all at UIS,” when evaluating his performance in February 2020. “I cannot think of anyone in my division who lives and breathes UIS like Justin.”

Ford added that Rose is always available for students and student groups even on his days off. He often works more than eight hours a day and serves as a role model for students.

“Justin is always positive and motiving others to be great no matter what the sacrifice,” Ford said. “He is committed to make sure he is present, listening and providing support to all of the students he comes in contact with on a daily basis.”

On campus, Rose is the advisor for Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc.; the Black Male Collegiate Society and the UIS Gospel Choir. He is also the co-advisor of the Rotaract Student Organization. Outside UIS, he is a member of Frontiers International and the Downtown Springfield Rotary Club.

At the same time, he is also earning his doctorate and routinely shares with the Student Affairs Division all he has learned about the best practices in higher education.

“He teaches, provides programming, advises and listens to his staff and students with his ears and heart,” Ford said. “His performance is beyond expectations and he always does it with a smile.”

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Jason Noyes named the UIS Employee of the Month for May 2020

Jason Noyes has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for May 2020. He manages the Help Desk for Information Technology Services.

His supervisor, Kara McElwrath, says he goes above and beyond each and every day. As Help Desk manager, he manages a team of student workers who typically respond to computer and other technical issues seven days a week.

“Jason is always helpful and always professional,” McElwrath said. “No matter the problem, no matter what else is on his plate, he has never said ‘that’s not my job’ or ‘let me ask someone else to do that.’ He treats faculty, staff, and students with respect and takes on each of their problems as his own.”

Noyes was nominated for the Employee of the Month award by a person who agrees that he goes above and beyond, a faculty member who he recently helped set up a customized computer.

“Jason has been spectacularly helpful in enabling me to work at UIS this spring,” his nominator said. “He worked with me to find a proper computer, and then he customized it for me, and then he assisted me with challenges I faced upgrading a computer at home. All of this took many meetings and he has been unfailingly helpful and highly available.”

Noyes has taken on big roles lately, such as managing the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for the entire campus, while also working on a replacement to the UIS Help Desk ticketing system.

“When someone goes to Jason with a problem, they know they are in good hands,” McElwrath said. “The confidence and assurance that he will stick with them until the issue is resolved puts everyone at ease. As a recent example, Jason worked tirelessly earlier this week to recover files from a damaged flash drive. Instead of giving up, instead of asking why there were no backups of the files, he just dug in and found a way to recover each and every file. This is the kind of service and diligence that he expresses every single day.”

Outside of work, Noyes hosts a morning radio show on Saturday’s on 970 AM WMAY and serves as a volunteer firefighter.

“The entire campus community (including me) depends on him and he doesn’t disappoint,” McElwrath said. “Honestly, I can’t imagine doing my job without him. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of Employee of the Month.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Lorie Mick named the UIS Employee of the Month for April 2020

Lorie Mick has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for April 2020. Mick is a staff nurse II and associate director of Health Services.

Mick’s nominator describes her as a “huge asset” to the department, noting that she has many roles in the department, besides being a nurse.

“She also is the manager of the clinic, she orders supplies, she runs lab tests and cleans areas that need to be tended to,” her nominator said. “Lorie goes the extra mile to make sure the clinic is run perfectly. She often arrives early for work and stays late to make sure the day’s duties are complete.”

Her supervisor says, over the past year, Mick has put significant effort into making UIS Health Services work better for students.

“She has coordinated efforts to allow the clinic to provide common prescriptions on-site, so that students can get a diagnosis and treatment for many common health issues immediately without having to leave campus,” said Mark Dochterman, her supervisor. “She has worked to improve the quality and types of testing that the clinic can do in order to reduce the time a student has to wait in order to get their results.”

She has also worked with staff to be open late on Wednesdays, worked with an outside vendor to set up online appointment scheduling and has streamlined communication about immunization requirements for incoming students. She also serves on several committees on campus.

“There are case after case of situations where Lorie (or one of her staff members under Lorie’s direction) go the extra mile for students,” Dochterman said. “Perhaps it’s tracking down a local provider that will accept a student’s insurance. Perhaps it’s working to find the cheapest price on an otherwise expensive prescription for students. Perhaps it’s working a student without an appointment into the day’s schedule because they need to be seen. These are commonplace efforts on the part of the office, and this is part of the culture of the place in large part because Lorie doesn’t see this as going the extra mile. She sees it as doing the work.”

Mick regularly mentors new employees, students and graduate assistants to the department and is widely respected by her supervisor, co-workers and people on campus.

“I never have to worry about Lorie’s dependability,” Dochterman said. “She is generally the first person in the clinic and the last person to leave. Lorie keeps the needs to students first and continues to chip away at the administrative work until it gets complete. Her ability to manage these two divergent pulls on her time is commendable.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Chrisa Potthast-Leezer named the UIS Employee of the Month for March 2020

Chrisa Potthast-Leezer has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for March 2020. She is a disability specialist in the Office of Disability Services.

Potthast-Leezer’s nominator describes her as an honest and considerate co-worker with a strong work ethic. She always presents a team attitude, is polite and helpful and has a smile on her face.

“She has a positive attitude and exudes kindness,” her nominator said. “Working in disability services requires someone who is patient, compassionate, helpful, caring, and kindhearted.”

Her supervisor, Sarah Colby Weaver, says she builds a good rapport with students with disabilities and creates a warm, welcoming environment for them in the office.

“Chrisa works hard to ensure students with disabilities receive the required, documented accommodations for their courses,” Weaver said. “She goes the extra mile to help them and spends time talking with professors, other staff members and the student so that everyone is on the same page and the goal for the success of the student is what’s important.”

Potthast-Leezer spends time in the classroom setting up the adaptive technology that students need. She also meets with professors, prior to students who may have a disability arriving on campus, to help them understand how they can help.

“Chrisa has a positive attitude with the students, by being warm and welcoming when she meets with them,” Weaver said. “We all know it’s not what you say, but how you say it. If you say it with a smile and have a positive attitude, the students will feel that and it will be an atmosphere that they will want to come back to for help.”

Potthast-Leezer is a UIS alumna and a former student-athlete who first started working as a student worker in the Office of Disability Services. She has been a full-time employee in the office for 18 years.

“She knows everyone on campus and has a good rapport with the staff, faculty, students and the public,” Weaver said. “She is professional and maintains relationships need to be resources for our students. “Her positive manner goes a long way and I’m happy to be working with Chrisa.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Connie Komnick named the UIS Employee of the Month for February 2020

Connie Komnick has been named the University of Illinois Springfield Employee of the Month for February 2020. She is the assistant director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

Komnick’s supervisor says she values the mission of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, as well as the people she engages with, calling her “the glue that holds the center together.”

“She handles many projects concurrently and can always be counted on to do an exceptional job with each of her responsibilities,” said her supervisor. “When unexpected challenges occur and a solution must be found on the spot, Connie remains calm and finds a way to resolve the issue.”

Prior to the hiring of a new director, Komnick managed the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center for a year on her own. She managed all student employees and the Americorps Vista, coordinated all service projects, scheduled transportation and food for service projects, supported students in the Leadership for Life program, completed voter registration drives, collaborated with other departments and maintained strong relationships with community partners.

“When managing student staff and the Americorps Vista, she provided them with meaningful work, encouraged their growth and learning and completed all other aspects of managing employees,” said her supervisor.

One of Komnick’s greatest abilities is her ability to adjust to last-minute challenges, such as securing transportation and drivers for more than 100 students over the course of two days.

“Connie thinks of everything,” said her supervisor. “She often has multiple projects at one time and still manages to remember every detail and every ‘to-do’ in order to seamlessly execute a service project or event. Nothing falls through the cracks with Connie.”

Komnick is also praised for her exceptional customer service skills, respect and kindness to others and for representing UIS in a professional manner.

“Her level of dedication, positivity, focus, detail and quality of work inspire those around her,” said her supervisor. “She always has a meaningful response and maintains a professional attitude, especially when dealing with difficult people. It is evident that students and staff/faculty respect Connie as a result of the positive interactions they continually have with her.”

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Jamie Weber named the 2019 UIS Employee of the Year

Jamie Weber, office manager for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been named the 2019 Employee of the Year at the University of Illinois Springfield. She was honored during a reception on Feb. 5, 2020, in the Student Union Ballroom.

Before announcing the winner, UIS Chancellor Susan Koch thanked the eleven Employees of the Month who were nominated for the award.

Weber, who was the March 2019 Employee of the Month, is described by her nominators as “one of the hardest working, organized, knowledgeable, customer-driven” employees on campus.

“Her dedication, positive attitude, willingness to help and attention to detail have played an integral role in the success of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean’s office,” said her supervisor.

In her role, Weber helps to manage the multiple departments that make up the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Co-workers say she is a wealth of knowledge and the “go-to person” when it comes to answering questions about the college.

“Jamie is truly unique in her ability to clearly and effectively convey information to both staff and faculty,” said her supervisor. “She is patient and is able to explain, sometimes very complex issues, in a very detailed, clear manner.”

In addition to her strong work ethic and dependability, Weber is “notorious for her positive, enthusiastic attitude,” according to her co-workers.

“Without waiver, she is courteous and respectful to everyone she interacts with and is always smiling and friendly. She never complains and always has our office’s best interest at heart,” added her supervisor.

Weber is also active in volunteering during the State and University Employees Combined Appeal (SECA), a once-a-year voluntary campaign that allows state and university employees to donate to charities. She has helped to plan SECA events and made items for the bake sale.

“We are very fortunate to have Jamie as part of our team,” said her supervisor. “Not only does the quality of her work exceed my expectations, but she adds so much value to our department in other ways. She is an invaluable asset to our office.”

As Employee of the Year, Weber will receive a check for $500, plus a special parking spot for the entire year.