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2021 Arts and Sciences Staff Excellence Awards

Award winners at the 2021 Staff Awards ceremony 

Read about the contributions of eight staff members and two teams who were honored with these Arts and Sciences Awards for Distinguished Service 

The annual Arts and Sciences Staff Excellence Awards for Distinguished Service recipients for 2021 were honored at an in-person event on April 29. Vice Deans Maria Anderson and Jim Masschaele presented the awards for their distinguished record in service excellence and dedication to the School of Arts and Sciences and our students and constituents. Now in its fourth year, this recognition program acknowledges the efforts of those staff members who have made extraordinary contributions to the School through their hard work and dedication to the faculty, staff, and students of our community. This year we are recognizing staff in three different categories: contributions to the student experience, operational excellence, and school culture. The Staff Excellence Awards Selection Committee reviewed nominations for 36 members of the SAS staff.

Scroll down or click on a name to read the citation

2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Student Experience:  Kathleen Guarino, Viktor Oudovenko, The Rutgers Writing Center Team

2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Operational Excellence: Geralyn Colvil, Lauryn Siu, Alessandra Sperling, Tamela Wilcox, Steven Young, The Language Center (SAS Language Institute) Team

2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the School Culture: Vicki Brooks

2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Student Experience Winners

Kathleen Guarino, Administrative Assistant, Department of Mathematics

Kathleen Guarino

In her role, Katie provides essential support to the Graduate Vice-Chair in the operations of the large Ph.D. and traditional MS programs in Mathematics. Her nomination for this recognition lauded her for organizational skills, her absolute commitment to the students, and her willingness to do this all with “the utmost grace and good humor, integrity, patience, professionalism, and warmth.”






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Viktor Oudovenko, High Performance Computing Manager, Department of Physics & Astronomy

Viktor Oudovenko

Viktor is the mainstay of the condensed matter group’s computational efforts and provides extraordinary service to the faculty and students whose research he supports. While credited with saving valuable machinery and data in the face of power outages, temperature fluctuations, and other interruptions, his nominators singled him out for his service to the students. He always has a line of students waiting to see him in his office and is celebrated as a caring and effective supervisor of student workers. His generosity with his time for students assures that his impact goes well beyond being an exceptional computer manager.




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The Rutgers Writing Center Team: Marie Freibergs, Grace Kincaid, Christopher Wolfe

Grace Kincaid, Christopher Wolfe

In a typical semester, the Writing Center schedules 1000 undergraduates who will be working with 130 peer writing tutors. Marie, Grace, and Christopher were singled out for their flexibility in helping the Center pivot under pandemic conditions while maintaining the highest levels of efficiency, professionalism, and care. This is underscored by the comments of the tutors and tutees, who marvel at the speed with which their inquiries are answered and the respect they receive from these caring and dedicated staff members.




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 2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Operational Excellence Winners

Geralyn Colvil, Administrator, Department of Art History

Geralyn Colvil

Described as “a gem” and “indispensable” by her faculty colleagues, Geralyn was singled out by her nominators for her enviable and valuable talent of mastering the intricacies of budgets and whatever “the latest electronic system imposed on departments” happens to be. She was lauded for her support of faculty and students and the benefits of her expertise, integrity, dedication, and compassion.  







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Lauryn Siu, Coordinator of Administrative Services, Divisions of Life Sciences and Mathematical and Physical Sciences 

Lauryn Siu  

Lauryn is recognized for her ability to navigate the workload and complexity of two of the School’s four academic divisions. In particular, she is appreciated for her “exemplary work ethic, her desire to expand her knowledge base, and her ability to overcome obstacles by focusing on solutions, not problems.” Her work products contribute significantly to the day-to-day operations of MPS and DLS and also help bring new and important data projects to a successful conclusion. 





Alessandra Sperling, Administrator, English Writing Program

Alessandra Sperling

According to her nominators, Alessandra was “exemplary and heroic” amid the disruption caused by the pandemic allowed the scheduling process for EWP to actually improve in terms of efficiency, communication, and adherence to deadlines in comparison with pre-COVID times. She is praised for her positive attitude, work ethic, responsiveness, and accountability in helping the Program manage the complexities of the changing directives on course offerings and modalities that COVID has induced.






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Tamela Wilcox, Unit Computing Manager, SAS-IT

Tamela Wilcox

Due to the caring attention and excellent service they receive from Tammy, the Department of Psychology considers her one of their own. During her time working with the department, and especially during the pandemic, she has been relentless in her efforts on behalf of the faculty, staff, and students. She is appreciated for her tenacity in securing hardware for the teaching faculty and the staff of the Child Development Center and for patiently guiding the “frustrated faculty and staff” as the impact of the pandemic lingers.




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Steven Young, Coordinator of Shipping and Receiving, Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Steven Young

There are few areas of the School that are impacted by the pandemic as broadly as the CCB stockroom. Shipping delays, missing deliveries, supply chain limitations, and difficulties in coordinating deliveries with individual labs have kept Steve busy. Despite these challenges, he is credited with providing reliable and steady support to the researchers and lab instructors of the department. As indispensable as the stockroom is to the research and teaching operations of CCB, so is Steve.





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The Language Center (SAS Language Institute) Team: Katherine Armbruster, Patricia Blum, Joseph Ponist, and Daissy Santamaria

Katherine Armbruster, Patricia Blum, Joseph Ponist, and Daissy Santamaria

The Fantastic Four of The Language Center seemingly have a never-ending To-Do list. Tasks for the Language Engagement Project and its initiative on Language and Social Justice, the provision of essential technical and administrative support to faculty who use streaming media in their courses, and the creation of workshops, webinars, and websites, keep these key staffers busy. Their nomination states that they are an extraordinarily dedicated team and bring cohesiveness and positive energy that contributes to the successful completion of these important initiatives.





2021 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the School Culture Winner

Vicki Brooks, Assistant Dean, SAS Educational Opportunity Fund Program

Vicki Brooks

Vicki has spent her 45 (!) years at Rutgers working with students in the EOF Program. While her dedication to these students is well known, today we are celebrating her for her equally strong dedication to her staff colleagues. Vicki was characterized in her nomination as a skilled supervisor and one that knows when to be hands-on and when to give those she supervises the space to learn, grow and thrive. She is equally passionate about the success of the students in the EOF Program and her colleagues in the office, earning “extended family” status for both groups, making a difference in many lives, and contributing to a supportive culture for the School.




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