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Award Badge

2020 Recognition Awards

The Annual Faculty and Staff Recognition Celebration is an opportunity for us to honor NMU employees who have achieved a years of service milestone, congratulate recent retirees, and celebrate the Excellence in Service, Distinguished Team and Innovation award recipients. The event is a very special occasion and typically occurs every April.

Since we could not gather in person this past April to celebrate this special group of employees, we are celebrating them virtually this fall.

2020 Recipients and Honorees

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Excellence in Service Awards

Excellence in Service Award Recipients

Patrick Bawden

Plant Operations

Mark Burns

Plant Operations/Steam Plant

Teresa Bischof

Clinical Sciences

Kathy Malay

Intercollegiate Athletics/Rec Sports

Gretchen DeVroy

Human Resources

Thomas Gilespie

LIS/Instructional Design Technology

Jessica Jones

NMU Foundation

Christine Greer

Dean of Students Office

Patrick Bawden exemplifies the university’s core values through his work and daily interactions as a Building & Grounds Attendant. Patrick approaches each day with rigor as his work ethic, positive attitude, and attention to detail are unmatched. The cleanliness of his assigned area is at an extremely high level and he is always willing to provide assistance to building occupants, visitors, students, and parents. Patrick goes beyond what his job duties entail by routinely volunteering for special projects, and he is always willing to serve as a first responder in campus building emergencies. When called upon to do the extra tasks at hand, Patrick shows up with a smile and ready to work.

Reliability and rigor. That's the name of the game when generating steam for both heating campus and for generating electricity for NMU and these are the chief descriptors of Mark Burns, Steam Plant Operator/Control Technician. Mark is highly skilled at instrumentation and controls of industrial boilers, turbines, and generators, and he continually strives to learn more. He presses for higher excellence through learning new equipment. He seizes the opportunity to find creative ways of operating and maintaining equipment. Mark lives by example, showing pride in and striving for excellence in his work, while encouraging and teaching other plant operators to do the same. His spirit of inclusion and helpfulness expands to NMU students who are working on controls projects and need real-life examples of applied controls. Mark demonstrates that "application is the best teacher" as he meets with the students, taking them around the plant and mentoring them on their projects. This self-directing, caring team member enhances NMU's essential behind-the-scenes plant operations, bringing true relevancy to his work so that students can pursue their NMU experience without interruption of the utility services Ripley Plant provides.

Teresa Bischof, Clinical Laboratory Sciences’ Executive Secretary, plays a critical role in the success of the Online Medical Laboratory Technician to Medical Laboratory Science (MLT to MLS) program. This program has grown from three students in Fall 2017 to 35 students for Winter 2020. The online MLT to MLS program requires extensive administration during the student’s time at NMU. Admission requirements for the online MLT to MLS program go far beyond NMU’s traditional requirements along with continuous monitoring of student competencies throughout the program. Teresa stepped up at a time that the online MLT to MLS program was struggling to get off the ground. In addition, she implemented several process improvements along with streamlining the admission procedure. These changes drastically improved the student experience. Along with the process improvements, Teresa played an active role in the development of new recruitment initiatives. Her assistance in recruitment is crucial as she is able to articulate the requirements and process so that students are not overwhelmed. Teresa’s efforts have added to the overall health of her department, the university and align with NMU’s core values.

The Intercollegiate Athletics/Rec Sports department employs a large number of students. Kathy’s attention to detail when completing and submitting paperwork is exceptional. Many students in the department are employed in several positions across campus which can get confusing but Kathy keeps it all straight. Her understanding of the complex processes and her willingness to help out the student employees and co-workers alike is appreciated and respected.

Processing payroll is an extremely demanding process that requires a significant amount of Rigor. This is all processed in-house primarily by two employees. Gretchen has a “can do” attitude and always does whatever it takes to make sure all deadlines are met timely. She will also always do things the right way even if it is not the easy way.

She also enhances NMU’s Prestige and Distinction with her sense of Community. Gretchen prides herself in providing excellent customer service and often pushes her heavy workload aside to take care of the needs of callers and visitors. This excellent customer service extends to department supervisors on campus as well as Gretchen is often the “go to” for supervisors with questions. She has developed numerous positive relationships across campus. It is no surprise that Gretchen has earned five Northern STAR awards since the inception of the program.

Tom is a Senior Instructional Technologist in the Center for Teaching and Learning. There have been many changes in teaching; but the changes in technology have been extraordinary and sometimes overwhelming. Tom is knowledgeable and helpful, and he is the ultimate in customer service. He is able to figure out what methods might work best, and then how best to use the methods. His willingness to repeat those lessons as many times as needed to assist the faculty is nothing short of amazing.

Jess Jones is absolutely deserving of Excellent in Service for her work in creating the NMU Green and Gold Gala. Jess's persistence and dedication to the event was visionary, pivoting at signs of difficulty and still keeping the event on track. We can learn from her example that persistence is part of the process, that any great idea is going to expect bumps, turns, and problems - and how you react to those while still staying focused on the goal is how we will continue to be an innovative institution. The actual event, especially as a first-time production, was a smashing success in both perception of NMU for the public and alumni, but also raising $150,000 for the Flexible Aid Fund which directly helps students. The event was memorable, helped elevate our outward facing appearance for the community, and was a huge win for middle management as this idea was concepted, developed, and executed with little oversight and involvement from department heads. This shows all employees that your ideas CAN be implemented and be extremely successful when done correctly. Jess Jones's persistence, communication, and hours spent developing the idea should be a model for our employees - for all at NMU, no matter how many or little years they have been here. Jess's execution of the Green and Gold Gala is the perfect example of how to reinvent your inspiration for the benefit of Northern Michigan University.

Chris Greer has made significant impact by to expanding partnerships and retaining students each and every year. 

Two recent notable outside partnerships include the Girl Scouts of the Upper Peninsula and with the local hospital.  While Chris's role is serving our currently enrolled students, she is committed to doing her part to increase enrollment and embrace opportunities to recruit future Wildcats.

The location and physical environment of our campus makes it a prime location for youth to experience the outdoors and tie experiences to an educational opportunity. Chris is working with leadership in the Girl Scouts organization to explore opportunities to bring upwards of 15,000 registered Girl Scouts throughout the U.P. to NMU's campus. This experience and connection with NMU could be very influential when it comes time for these young women to choose a university to attend.

Another partnership that Chris dedicates her personal time to is serving on the board at the local hospital. A positive relationship between NMU and the local hospital is essential. NMU students are placed in the hospital for practicums. NMU students, faculty and staff require access to good health care. The number of students struggling with mental health issues continues to rise exponentially, and NMU could not retain many of these students without the services and support of the local hospital. The partnership with the hospital will also be essential as NMU forges again with our Rural Health initiative. Chris's commitment to this partnership by serving on the board shows a level of truth and understanding between entities.

Chris has made significant strides to strengthen our on-campus student body.

Recently, she recognized the need to provide a 24-hour study lounge for our students. The majority of our student population lives off campus and commutes to campus, so our students were finding random locations throughout campus to study. On campus students also need a place that is open to study 24-hours a day. Chris worked with several departments to coordinate a space and staff coverage to launch a 24-hour study space for students in the basement of Harden Hall.

Another significant contribution Chris made to strengthen support for students was the acquisition of designated testing rooms for students with disabilities. Until exam week of Fall 2019 semester, Disability Services had to reserve rooms throughout campus for students with disabilities to take tests using a proctor. Not only was this a very labor-intensive process, but it caused distress for our students with disabilities. Chris assisted in acquiring three conference rooms in the basement of Hedgcock designated for student testing. We can now accommodate 18 students at one time for testing. Students with disabilities no longer need to leave the building to take a test and find comfort in taking their tests in the same set of rooms every time.

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University Team Awards

University Team Award Recipients

Event Ticketing Team

Jerome Anderson

Roberta Burke

Christopher Danik

William Digneit

Allison Erickson

Christine Lake

Karl Mulder

Keith O'Brien

William Richards

Global Campus

Dan Freeborn

Brad Hamel

Carly Harrington

Mindy Nannestad

Steve VandenAvond

Green and Gold Gala Committee

William Digneit

Marina Dupler

Christi Etelamaki

Laura Gannon

Laura Glover

Andrew Hill

Carol Johnson

Patrick Lakenen

David Nyberg

Elizabeth Peterson

Kelsey Potes

Carley Saint-Onge

Robyn Stille

Daniell Truckey

NMU Theater & Dance - Theatre For All Initiative

William Digneit

Jill Grundstrom

David Pierce

Shelley Russel

Paul Truckey

Lex van Blommestein

Jerome Anderson, Roberta Burke, Christopher Danik, William Digneit, Allison Erickson, Christine Lake, Karl Mulder, Keith O’Brien, William Richards

The university’s ticketing system had many issues and was in need of replacement. Bill Richards, convened folks from IT, Theatre, and Athletics to take on the challenge. The team identified desired requirements and issued a Request for Proposal. Four vendor systems were evaluated for their security, feature set, ease of use, and mobile capabilities. The team selected a vendor and then set about getting the new system in place. System implementation included installing, configuring, and testing the software, credit card processors, scanners, printers, computers, and mobile cart stations located in the Dome, Berry, Forest Roberts, Black Box Theatre, Cat’s Corner Store, and NMU Bookstore. The new system has greatly increased the efficiency and effectiveness of event management and the ticket sales operation and has provided needed marketing capabilities. Ticket purchasers, who are often community members, now have an easy, online and mobile-based process, with improved features such as venue seat view/selection, mobile ticketing, mobile event check in, and more flexible payment options. Because of the team’s hard work, collaboration and commitment to success, this project has been a real win for NMU!

Dan Freeborn, Brad Hamel, Carly Harrington, Mindy Nannestad, Steve VandenAvond

Global Campus is collaborating and developing pathways with regional community colleges to create a transfer-friendly environment, placing student needs as a top priority while maintaining the highest standards and rigor. Global Campus is also collaborating with Upper Peninsula school districts and the NMU departments in English, Mathematics, Education, and History to offer a content pathway for high school teachers to obtain the 18 credits of content graduate coursework to be eligible for teaching at the collegiate level per Higher Learning Commission rules.

Global Campus has been integral in the development of the Educational Access Network (EAN) through the placement of hardware and EAN course content. Developing an accessible network for schools, tribal communities, and municipalities is key to supporting access to information and learning opportunities for our rural communities. Global Campus continues to be a key partner in the Marshall Plan award obtained for our region. This award was written in partnership with local schools to develop and implement cyber-security curriculum and internships for high school students as a bridge to post-secondary education.

NMU's Global Campus has been recognized as one of the best online and most affordable colleges in 2018 and 2019. National program recognition has included the MPA, Learning Disabilities, Reading Specialist/Reading K-8, and the RN to BNS ranked number one in Michigan for 2020. The Applied Workplace Leadership program received the 2018 Innovation in Transfer Award today at the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. The Extended Learning and Community Engagement Scholar, the Online Fellows program and the Online Teaching Award are examples of vision articulated through clear standards and award criteria thus creating a culture of high expectations obtainable through high support.

William Digneit, Marina Dupler, Christi Etelamaki, Laura Gannon, Laura Glover, Andrew Hill, Carol Johnson, Patrick Lakenen, Michelle Lane, David Nyberg, Elizabeth Peterson, Kelsey Potes, Carley Saint-Onge, Robyn Stille, Daniel Truckey

The team’s performance and accomplishments helped to further NMU’s strategic outcome of enhancing and expanding partnerships. The Green and Gold Gala presented an opportunity for the community to help NMU students, and at the same time allowed the University to showcase the new Northern Center facilities and capabilities and the role NMU plays as a vital community partner. The committee approached the planning of this event in a very professional and thoughtful way. The members met regularly throughout the year and were committed to making this event a standout affair for all of those that attended, more than 200 alumni and 75 faculty and staffed were counted in the audience. They also kept in mind the benefits of promoting the event and the awareness it would create in the community for those who could not attend. Their success in this endeavor was demonstrated by the gifts that came in from non-attendees who wanted to support the cause of the flexible aid funds for students. The goal for fundraising was to provide for at least $200K in endowed funds for the Flexible Aid Fund which started with approximately $50K - and the goal was achieved! The financial support included gifts from alumni, friends and the business community. The Green and Gold Gala successfully educated the community about some of the challenges facing students and the ways NMU is helping to ensure their academic success. The event engaged the community and helped to deepen partnerships for support of the institution. The committee was a multi-disciplinary group that demonstrated great teamwork and execution.

William Digneit, Jill Grundtrom, David Pierce, Shelley Russel, Paul Truckey, Lex van Blommestein

Theatre For All is an inclusive, sensory friendly, and zero-barrier theatre or dance arts performance. Each sensory-friendly show is performed in a friendly, supportive environment for families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism, spectrum disorders, or other sensitivity issues. We have secured grant funding to cover the ticket cost of the Theatre For All performances, so financial barriers are eliminated as well. Slight adjustments to the production are made, including reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe and spot lights that shine into the audience. House lights are faintly dimmed but remain on. Quiet and activity areas staffed with specialists are available in the lobby areas for those who need to leave their seats during the performance. The Theatre For All program creates access, impact, and engagement on three fronts: on campus, in the community, and regionally.

This initiative at NMU began with a casual conversation between Director of Theatre Bill Digneit and Provost Schuilling, as to how NMU could produce a more inclusive arts experience on campus. The program began by seizing an opportunity to create an exciting new partnership with The Theatre Development Fund and their Broadway - Autism Theatre Initiative in New York City. The relationship with this national organization has helped our team create the foundation and framework of Theatre For All at NMU. An advisory council and a producing team were created by engaging with faculty, educators and members from the community to represent the populations we want to serve. Finally, educational programing was created for our faculty, staff, and students who will be participating during the Theatre For All performances. The team produced NMU’s first Theater For All performance in the spring of 2017 with Disney’s Tarzan, just three months after the initial meeting with the Theatre Development Fund in NYC. The effort in producing the first Theatre For All production in just a few months shattered the existing model of an 18 month timeline that was originally presented. This team has created the first fully inclusive and zero-barrier arts programming within the region. This team’s effort has markedly created a state-wide reputation for NMU and its inclusion efforts, as the Theatre For All Initiative was just nominated for and won The Dr. Dawn Gallup 2020 Honor Recipient from the Michigan Council for Exceptional Children. This award is given to recognize the individual, group, business, agency, or community that has promoted and provided for the enhancement, awareness, or employment of individuals with exceptionalities in order to promote and support their full participation within the community. They have created such impact that local theatre organization such as Superior Arts Youth Theatre are now seeking their advice as they embark on creating their first inclusive theatre season.

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Innovation Awards

Innovation Award Recipients

EAN Support Team

Ben Chaney

Chris Lewis

Stephanie Zadroga-Langlois

The Educational Access Network Support team continues to come up with truly innovative and unique ideas and utilizes new tools and technology to create a successful public-facing positive venue for Northern Michigan University. The EAN is a creative and affordable way of bringing high-speed educational broadband with a full range of educational opportunities our communities. Through unique customized training and developing automation techniques along with implementing back-end support, programming, and additional managing, they have grown an idea into a program helping thousands of community members acquire internet access where they couldn't before, all using a small team of students. This team has partnered with schools and various community entities by offering unique services to their students, and allowing them to be exposed to NMU values. They aren’t just innovative, they carry out all of NMU’s core values, specifically community, inclusion and opportunity. They also provide unique working and internship opportunities for students and teach them soft skills, work ethic, and prepare them for the world post-graduation.

Stephanie recognized the high demand across the nation for trained Class A CDL drivers, which ignited her passion to begin her research into starting a CDL program at NMU soon after she started in her role as Director of CEWD in 2016. Stephanie has an impressive background and knowledge base in the workforce industry and is in tune with local, regional and national training demands and trends for students, employers and businesses in the workforce. And through her extensive research, support from the community and the University, Stephanie was able to successfully collaborate with the State of Michigan on opening and certifying Northern Michigan University with a Class A CDL Truck Driving Program. The risks for Stephanie and CEWD (a cost recovery department) to start a CDL program from the ground up were tremendous. However, in two years, the CDL program has seen a steady increase in student inquiries and an overall increase in student enrollments. Stephanie saw the CDL program as another opportunity to expand on NMU's core values of Community, Inclusiveness and Connection by offering a non-credit program in which the traditional and non-traditional students can come together to receive a high caliber level of training in a University setting. Which is what makes the NMU CDL program unlike any other CDL training program in the Upper Peninsula. None of this would be possible, nor would it be successful, without Stephanie's innovation and dedication to improving the Continuing Education and Workforce Development Department here at Northern Michigan University.

About the Awards

Excellence-in-Service and Distinguished Team awards recognize employees and teams that demonstrate exemplary performance and service, furthering the goals of the university while demonstrating the core values of Community, Opportunity, Rigor, Environment, Inclusion, and/or Connections.

The Innovation Award, which recognizes an individual or a team who demonstrates our Innovation value through risk taking, problem solving, creativity and/or discovery. This award seeks to recognize bold attempts to seize opportunities that align with our Strategic Plan or address problems  – regardless of whether or not the work was successful.