UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
University Staff - List A
Jody Pederson, a groundskeeper, is the 2022 recipient of the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff.
Following a career as a nurse’s aide and union steward, Pederson is now in her fifth year at UW-River Falls. She worked as a custodian in North Hall before transferring to the Grounds Department in 2020.
Students have nicknamed Pederson “National Treasure” due to her “kindhearted nature” and “overflowing compassion,” according to nominators. She has also been lauded for her strong work ethic and uncompromising commitment to creating a safe and welcoming campus environment.
“Jody plays a very large role in our small department,” wrote one nominator, “bringing her talents, optimism and joy to campus with every shift. She is attentive, hardworking and always tries to bring a little more to the workplace.”
One former student worker echoed that sentiment. “Not only is Jody kind,” she said, “but she is also one of the hardest workers I have ever met. Even on rainy days, when many of us wanted to sit back and relax, Jody would stay busy. Whether washing the vehicles in the rain to help conserve water, sharpening pruners, or trying to clean the work sink, Jody was on her feet. … She pushed us to work our hardest while still understanding our limits, acting as a role model and true leader.”
In a letter to the nominating committee, two current students shared that they have “received nothing but an enormous amount of positive energy and encouragement” from Pederson, writing that “she always brings so much charisma to the workplace, creating a fun work environment.” These students also appreciated Pederson’s willingness to allow them to share their project ideas and the “utmost care and advice” she provided.
Nominators also praised Jody for her commitment to campus sustainability efforts including helping students achieve Bee Campus USA status, hosting and supporting campus cleanups, and encouraging students to try more environmentally friendly approaches to tasks and projects.
Pederson grew up in the Menomonie/Eau Claire area and has resided in River Falls since 1994. She enjoys spending time with her pets, family, and friends and being in her garden. In 2023, she plans to work toward her Master Gardener certification.
Academic Department Associate, Psychological Sciences Department
University Staff - List B
Jody Sather, academic department associate for the Psychological Sciences Department, is the 2022 recipient of the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff.
Sather has worked at UW-River Falls for over 15 years and has been in her current position for the past eight. Considered by nominators to be the “heart and soul” of her department, her responsibilities are wide ranging.
Beyond fulfilling the traditional roles of an ADA, Sather also serves as the department’s budget, marketing, and events manager in addition to managing the neuroscience lab, participating in departmental decision making, and advising students.
One nominator said that her deep knowledge of the curricula makes her “fantastic with both internal and external transfer students.” Coupled with her “compassionate and gentle personality,” Sather is a much-revered adviser who is regularly visited by former students who, like one recent graduate, said she plans to “return to campus and sit in her office many more times to discuss my career path, receive outstanding advice, or simply talk through everyday life.”
Another former student wrote: “Jody has both the skills to point students in the [right] direction, troubleshoot issues, and provide clarity on classes and schedules as well as the interpersonal skills to make students feel comfortable and welcome.”
Sather is also recognized for providing primary support for new programs, including the development of a new major in neuroscience, which has added two faculty and more than 50 students since its inception, and the launch of the department’s Peer Mentoring Program, which has been associated with a significant increase in departmental retention of first-year students.
Sather has also lent her expertise and leadership skills to multiple campus committees. She currently chairs the University Staff Senate and serves on its Employee Development Committee. She recently served on the University Academic Plan Committee and the College of Arts and Sciences Budget Reduction Working Group.
Sather received a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from University of Minnesota in 2003 and, in 2012, she was awarded a bachelor’s degree in math from UW-River Falls. She is a native and current resident of River Falls.