UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Esekiel Mendoza received the Chancellor's Recognition award for his work as a power plant operator at the UW-RF heating plant. Last Thanksgiving, Mendoza left for Iraq with other members of the Wisconsin National Guard. His wife, Roxanne, will accept the award on his behalf.
"He loves and enjoys his job at the power plant, and he's excited to come home," she said. "I'm so proud of him, and this award is really an honor."
Mendoza began his work at the power plant in 2003. Since then, Mendoza has been a hard worker with a lot of energy to get the job done, said his supervisor Bill Girnau.
"He's the type of person you'd like working beside you," said Girnau. "He's very well-liked and has a good sense of humor."
Several UW-RF employees nominated Mendoza for this award because of his positive attitude, willingness to lend a helping hand, and conscientious work. Jean Jantz first worked with Mendoza in residential services when he was a custodian for one of the residential halls. She was one of many who nominated him for this award.
"He's an extremely outgoing, hard working and lovable guy," said Jantz. "No matter what, he was always there to lend a helping hand. I miss him right now as he's out helping everyone by serving his country. I think him for that and pray he comes home safely. There isn't a more deserving person, in my book, who has earned and deserves this award."
Mendoza is expected to return to the states around Thanksgiving and will resume his position at the University.
Susie Zimmer, program assistant for the art department and outreach, was hired to work full time as a program assistant for the art department and outreach and graduate studies in 1996. Since then she has been busy providing support for the art department staff, supervising art students in the art office and gallery, and working to make Pigeon Lake, an outreach field studies program, successful.
"Susie has been one of the key factors in seeing that Pigeon Lake moved from a struggling program to a successful operation," said Michael Padgett, art department chair and senior manager of Pigeon Lake.
Zimmer hires and supervises a large number of student workers in the art department and takes an active role in the art gallery. She deals with outside artists, speakers and gallery directors to ensure that visitors to the University receive a favorable impression, said Padgett.
Aside from Zimmer's technical duties, she has taken on the role as an unofficial advisor to the students.
"She is a friend and mentor for so many students who have made part of their life's journey through the art department," said Randy Johnston, professor of art. "She is often seen working late with a student on a grant proposal."
Often times when students are away from home, the art office is like their second home, said Zimmer.
"Susie is always willing to find a solution to problems that will make students feel heard and understood," said Padgett.
Zimmer also is an active member of the River Falls community. She serves as a board member for the Community Arts Base, leads a Tsunami relief fund, and sponsors an annual Habitat for Humanity fundraiser through art sales.
As a trustee for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Zimmer lead a petition in support of a fair and equitable contract for University of Wisconsin classified staff. She spoke about this issue, at Nylander's request, to the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee.