Chancellor’s University Staff Excellence Awards

2014 Susan Freiermuth and Ken Smith

Sue Freiermuth

Sue Freiermuth is an academic department associate in Plant and Earth Science. 

Numerous nomination and support letters on Sue's behalf spoke of a caring and attentive individual working in what most mere mortals would find to be too disruptive of a work environment. Located right in the heart of the departments operations and at the top of a staircase traversed by hundreds of students a day, Sue is never too busy or disrupted to keep the office running smoothly, coordinate travel for students, organize the department's Relay for Life Team, or cover for a co-worker who has fallen ill.

"She approaches every task or project as if it were the most important thing to do," said Brenda Boetel, associate dean of CAFES.

"Could there be a better person in the department, college, university, or even the entire University of Wisconsin system with better interpersonal skills, attitude for those with whom she interacts with? Despite her work pressures and chaotic work environment she always has a ready smile and positive work attitude, and she will drop anything to assist someone. People flock to her because of her skill and personality. She is the best, the absolute best," said Bill Anderson, professor emeritus of plant and earth science, in his nomination letter.

Ken Smith

Ken Smith is the operator in charge of the Heating Plant. 

"Ken always shows up to work with a can-do attitude. Many of the jobs Ken is asked to do are not very glamorous and can be dangerous," said Steven Wodarz, Heating Plant superintendent." These jobs include confined spaces and entries into steam drums, mud drums, ash pits, fire boxes and steam pits. Many times these spaces are extremely dirty, wet, hot, and humid. Ken adapts to these conditions very well and will often say, 'It's only water or it's only dirt – and that's what we have a shower for.'"

"Ken has acquired a vast wealth of knowledge that he passes on to other operators. He takes pride in working at the Heating Plant. He is truly an asset to UW-River Falls. Whenever I thank Ken, he usually responds by saying 'I'm just doing my job.'"

Sue Freiermuth

Ken Smith