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2022 Arts and Sciences Staff Excellence Awards

Award winners at the 2022 Staff Awards ceremony 

Congratulations to the six staff members and one team who were honored with the Arts and Sciences Awards for Distinguished Service.

The annual Arts and Sciences Staff Excellence Awards for Distinguished Service recipients for 2022 were honored at an in-person event on February 10. Interim co-Executive Deans Susan Lawrence and James Masschaele and Interim Vice Dean of Administration Anabell Williams presented the awards for their distinguished and dedicated work in service and excellence to the School of Arts and Sciences.

The annual recognition program acknowledges the efforts of 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 staff culture. The Staff Excellence Awards Selection Committee reviewed a total of 57 SAS Staff nominations.

Scroll down or click on a name to read the citation

2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Operations: Zsofia Pal, Christine Spassione, Gabrielle Wilders

2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Staff Culture: Michelle Feeney, Christina Pasley

2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Student Experience: Krystal Whitehead

2022 Team Award for Outstanding Contributions to Operations: History Team–Amanda Gravenhise, Anuja Rivera, Dawn Ruskai, Candace Walcott-Shepherd

2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Student Experience Winner

Krystal Whitehead, Undergraduate Student Advising Counselor

Psychology Department

Krystal Whitehead

Krystal started as a Program Coordinator in the Psychology Chair's Office, but she quickly became an important part of the department administration when the department needed some extra assistance due to staff shortages or retirements. Krystal quicky jumped in and learned new tasks or shadowed other administrators for knowledge transfer. In the first year in her current position, she attended several undergraduate events and made recommendations to the department for handling undergraduate recruiting, outreach, and mentorship. Due to her active participation and advice the department now has better strategies for recruiting and addressing undergraduate students’ needs. She implemented in-person and online advising sessions and quickly made needed information accessible for the students.



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 2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Operational Excellence Winners

Zsofia Pal, Operations Manager

Psychology Department

Zsofia Pal

Zsofia is the person who works magic behind the scenes and keeps the department functioning like a well-oiled machine. The Psychology department is quite large, with many staff and students, as well as active faculty with large research labs. Managing such a complex system with many stakeholders and moving parts is a monumental task that she handles flawlessly. Zsofia was effective in finding solutions to the problems brought on by COVID and the enduring quarantine status of the University. Zsofia is a team builder. When the department lost key staff members, Zsofia led the charge in finding people who not only were qualified for the positions, but who fit into the Psychology family. We now have a strong staff foundation of people who can do their job effectively and help others when there is an absence or need. Zsofia is an excellent communicator with all levels of the department. She keeps the staff updated on University and Department news and holds bi-weekly meetings to keep us engaged. Zsofia is a huge advocate for faculty, students, and staff and is the perfect example of how one person’s work can have a widespread positive effect on the culture of the department.



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Christine Spassione, Senior Program Administrator

DIMACS (the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science)

Christine Spassione  

Christine is the heart and soul of DIMACS. She represents the best that a staff member can possibly be in contributing to the operational excellence of a university unit. Christine ensures both that the Center accomplishes its goals and that the faculty and staff stay informed, happy, and working as a team. Christine keeps DIMACS running both operationally and socially. She takes a leadership role in virtually every aspect of DIMACS, routinely offering to help as soon as she hears of a new initiative, ensuring that all members of the staff are provided guidance and assistance, and doing all this with empathy, care, and professionalism. In all of her interactions with staff, Christine's care for people as individuals who have the inevitable challenges of normal life is front and center. Christine ensures that the center’s social events are planned and go off without a hitch, including luncheons, holiday dinners, charity drives, and retreats that bring DIMACS staff and faculty together.



Gabrielle Wilders, Senior Executive Associate

Executive Dean’s Office

Gabrielle Wilders

If 77 Hamilton Street is the physical representation of SAS, then Gabrielle Wilders is the professional representation of the School. Always courteous, always approachable, always knowledgeable, and effective, she personifies the professionalism SAS is known for across campus. Gabrielle has been the senior executive associate supporting the Executive Dean for as long as there has been a School of Arts and Sciences. She knows the “where, why, and when” of all the deans’ and vice deans’ hectic schedules and coordinates with their office staff to make the Office of the Executive Dean run smoothly and efficiently. Gabrielle is a “go-to” person for staff in Old Queens and other schools in New Brunswick when their work concerns administrative processes and procedures. If she doesn’t know what to do in any given situation, she knows who knows and she makes the professional connection to everyone’s benefit. This personal interaction with Gabrielle becomes their lasting sense of the School and all who work in it.



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2022 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Staff Culture Winners

Michelle Feeney, Divisional Director of Administration for the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Executive Dean’s Office

Michelle Feeney

Michelle has been a highly effective partner in all the administrative aspects of the Divisional Dean’s work. Her intelligence, work ethic, commitment, and judgment are impressive. She keeps an organized list of tasks that must be accomplished, including deadlines and intermediate deliverables, that keeps the SBS Dean’s office running on schedule. Her interactions with department chairs and administrative staff are respectful and supportive. She sets an example for competence, efficiency, and unselfish dedication to the mission. She has developed new processes that improve efficiency. She demonstrates a clear mastery of department operations and the evolving budget process. She has both improved the operations of the School and contributed positively to staff culture. Humanizing administrative procedures, encouraging the strengths, and supporting the limits of others, and promoting diversity all come naturally to her.



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Christina Pasley, Divisional Director of Administration for Interdisciplinary Programs

Executive Dean’s Office

Christina Pasley

Christina’s deep dedication to equity and inclusion and acts of service embody the very spirit of this award. She is a strong and empathic leader who thinks about and works hard to advocate for the well-being of her professional community. Her work, including her leadership in several DEI-related initiatives within SAS, have made an immediate and lasting impact on the culture of SAS. Christina has taken a leadership position across several initiatives in the School’s diversity, equity, and inclusion space. As a founding leader on the SAS DEI Community Engagement group, together with Anabell Williams and Michelle Feeney, she has created new spaces for staff to gain professional development, mentoring, and resources on DEI-related topics. Christina has actively worked to create programming opportunities for staff and, in doing so, she has helped to build connections between this group and partners both within and outside of SAS. Christina also devotes time to serving as a one-on-one mentor for the SAS Staff Mentoring Program and has been an active force in creating change and making space for the voices of those around her, particularly those who are often not heard.



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2022 Team Award for Outstanding Contributions to Operational Excellence

Operations: History Team: Amanda Gravenhise, Anuja Rivera, Dawn Ruskai, Candace Walcott-Shepherd

The History Team has worked diligently and creatively to respond to the needs of the department’s students and faculty in what have been difficult times. With many faculty not in their offices much of the time, both undergraduate and graduate students can find themselves falling between the cracks of the Rutgers online system. The team works with students to find solutions to their problems, addressing concerns about their courses, and, for graduate students especially, their scholarship funding. The team has also helped faculty deal with their teaching and research problems and has provided information to the department’s various faculty caucuses so that the department can advance both undergraduate and graduate education programs in compliance with SAS policies and regulations. The team also provides chairs with the material necessary for their committee work with other departments and the SAS Deans. Anuja, Dawn, Candace, and Amanda, as a team, have responded well to every challenge.

 History Team revised



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