Chancellor’s Award winners honored 

January 19, 2022 - Ten winners have been announced for the 2020 and 2021 Chancellor’s Awards at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Chancellor Maria Gallo honored eight staff members and two departments at the university’s Spring Opening Meeting on January 18. Awards included the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff and the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff.

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff was first awarded in 1986 when UWRF faculty, staff and students were invited to nominate outstanding non-instructional staff for the award. The award was expanded in 2021 to include three individual categories – limited appointees, non-instructional academic staff and instructional academic staff – and one unit, department or program primarily staffed by academic staff.

Awarded since 1996, the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff invites the university community to nominate university staff members in one of two categories: List A (blue collar, crafts/technical and law enforcement) or List B (administrative support, fiscal and staff services or supervisory/human resources/other. In 2021, a program category was added to recognize a unit, department or program primarily staffed by university staff.

Due to the pandemic, 2020 award announcements were postponed. Winners were announced in November 2021 and honored alongside the 2021 recipients at the Spring Opening Meeting. Honorees include:

Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff, 2020, List A: Jamie Dunn, Prucha Hall custodian. Dunn has spent more than two decades as a custodian at UW-River Falls. In their nomination materials, his nominators emphasized how his ability to both pivot and go the extra mile have contributed to the university over the years, most notably during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff, 2020, List B: Jason Winget, IT manager in the Division of Technology Services. A UWRF alumnus, 2021 marked Winget’s 24th year of employment with the university. A member of the campus Emergency Management Team, he played an essential role in the COVID-19 pandemic response and his nominators repeatedly referenced his resourcefulness, creativity and leadership abilities during the unprecedented events of 2020 and 2021.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff, 2020: Connie Fassino, administrative program supervisor in Facilities Management. A UWRF alumna, Fassino has served in her role since 2019. Prior to her current position, she spent 12 years as the dean’s assistant in the College of Business and Economics. In their nomination materials, Fassino’s peers and supervisors repeatedly praised her patience, attention to detail and commitment to the university.

Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff, 2021, List A: Matt Quade, shipping and mailing associate in Central Receiving and Postal. A 2013 UWRF graduate, Quade began working in Central Stores and the mailroom upon his arrival as a student. After graduation, he joined the university as an employee and took on his current role in May 2016. In their nomination materials, all of Quade’s nominators praised his dedication to his work, his professionalism and good nature, particularly in the face of extra challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff, 2021, List B: Lisa Owens, dean assistant in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. In her role, Owens provides administrative support for the college and its various academic departments. Her duties are vast, but according to her nominators, Owens’ ability to manage them all is what sets her apart. She came to UWRF as a non-traditional student in 1987 and has been employed on campus in various roles since then. She joined CAFES in 2004.

Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff, 2021, Program/Unit/Department: Custodial Services. Custodial Services currently employees 12 staff members and one supervisor. The team provides cleaning, moving and general services for the UWRF campus, including approximately 1.3 million square feet of academic building space. Staff perform a wide variety of duties from larger projects like event setups and office moves to day-to-day tasks including snow and ice removal and recycling collection.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff, 2021, Non-Instructional Academic Staff: Ann Lawton, violence prevention coordinator. Lawton also serves the university as a lecturer in the Art Department, a board-certified art therapist in Student Health and Counseling Services and as the assistant director of URSCA (Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity). Her nominators lauded her many skills and contributions to the university, repeatedly emphasizing her willingness to wear many hats. No characteristic was mentioned more often than her sheer dedication to her work and the students.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff, 2021, Instructional Academic Staff: Grettel Hecht, lecturer in the Math Department. Hecht has been teaching at UWRF since 2014 and also serves as the university’s remedial mathematics coordinator. Her commitment to all facets of her work has earned the admiration of her peers. Her nominators praised her initiative, creativity and enthusiasm in their nomination materials, along with her ability to reach a wide variety of students.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff, 2021, Limited Appointee: Cara Rubis, director of University Center and Dining Services. Rubis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UWRF and has been employed at the university since 1998. In her role, she provides leadership and support for a variety of areas, including the University Center, contracted services including Dining Services and the Falcon Shop, the Involvement Center, Student Organizations, Student Events and Programs and more. Her ability to juggle a wide range of responsibilities and a large staff was repeatedly praised by the colleagues that nominated her.

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Academic Staff, 2021, Program/Unit/Department: Financial Aid. According to Financial Aid Director Robert Bode, much of the work that the Financial Aid staff does in counseling students and families is done over the phone. The Financial Aid Office fields an average of nearly 650 phone calls a month, including over 1,200 calls a month during peak times. Additionally, staff members manage multiple financial aid programs and processes and are responsible for duties including reviewing financial aid applications, creating and communicating financial aid offers to families, balancing accounts and managing the university’s complex financial aid system. The COVID-19 pandemic created significant changes and additions to grant programs, waivers, federal aid program rules, admissions scholarships requirements and more. Each of these changes required staff to learn, implement and utilize new policies and procedures, often in a short amount of time.

To learn more information about each award winner, view past honorees and find nomination criteria, visit

Contact Us

University Communications
and Marketing
120 North Hall
Phone: 715-425-3771
Fax: 715-425-4486