Chancellor's University Staff Excellence Awards

Awarded since 1996, permanent university staff and supervisors of university staff are eligible to nominate university staff colleagues in two categories for this award. Additionally, the program category recognizes a unit, department or program primarily staffed by university staff for the important role they play in supporting the university's mission and priorities.

UWRF Section Separator

Brian Montpetit

HVAC/Refrigeration Specialist
University Staff - List A

Sonja Johnson

Counseling and Health Services
University Staff - List B

Surplus Property Program

University Staff Program

Jody Pederson

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.

Jody Sather

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.

Matt Quade

Shipping and Mailing Associate, Central Receiving and Postal
University Staff - List A

Matt Quade, a shipping and mailing associate in Central Receiving and Postal, is the 2021 recipient of the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff. A 2013 graduate of UW-River Falls, 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 repeatedly praised his dedication to his work, his professionalism and his good nature, particularly in the face of extra challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Matt truly personifies the mission of the Department of Facilities Management by providing excellent service to the UW-River Falls campus community, service that not only benefits the department, but enhances the student experience as well,” said one nominator.

“Matt has contributed greatly to the success of UW-River Falls in many ways and is very worthy of recognition,” added another nominator. “He is definitely a special employee working very hard for the success of our campus.”

COVID-19 brought new and unique challenges to an already busy department, yet Quade and his coworkers managed to keep things flowing smoothly despite the steep increase in workload. After student employees had to leave campus due to the pandemic, Quade’s department was reduced to a two-person operation. Despite this, campus mail didn’t miss a beat.

“Matt and his coworker rolled up their sleeves and focused on getting through the tasks at hand. Matt made sure the bar – set high through years of consistent and efficient service – was not taken down a notch due to the pandemic,” explained one of Quade’s nominators. “The Postal and Receiving Department never left its post. They were tasked with ensuring the delivery and distribution of critical PPE supplies across campus while hundreds of packages containing essentials like textbooks and personal belongings flooded the loading dock, needing to quickly be sent out to the homes of departing students. Despite the added duties, Matt’s dedication and commitment to campus didn’t waiver.”

 In addition to his role as a shipping associate, Quade also serves on the University Staff Senate, where he is treasurer and sits on the by-laws, elections and disability advisory committees. His willingness to serve the university community in a variety of ways has not gone unnoticed by his colleagues.

“There is no question Matt values providing the best customer service possible,” said another nominator. “The university is fortunate to have Matt on staff and UWRF staff are fortunate to work with and know the wonderful person Matt is.”

A native of Roseville, Minn., Quade now resides in Hastings, Minn.

Lisa Owens

Dean Assistant, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
University Staff- List B

Lisa Owens, dean assistant in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, has been honored with the 2021 Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff. 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 is on top of policies and procedures and works so hard to make life easier for department chairs in CAFES. I honestly could not be as effective as a chair without her support,” explained one nominator. “I have new appreciation for the complexity and myriad of tasks involved in being a dean assistant—there are a lot of moving parts and balls to constantly keep juggling. I have also very much appreciated her advocacy for faculty and staff in CAFES. She is committed to ensuring things are done right and equitably. Lisa is extraordinarily dedicated to UWRF and has worked tirelessly to support CAFES over the years.”

“Currently the longest tenured dean assistant, Lisa willingly shares her ideas, perspectives and advice with her colleagues when confronted with ‘what does X mean?’ or ‘have you seen Y before?’ or ‘how does Z happen?’” added a nominator. “She regularly communicates with the Provost’s Office, the Budget Office, the Human Resources Department, the Division of Technology Services, the Advancement Office and others on questions and issues, always with the goal of finding the best answer or solution for all involved.”

In addition to her role as dean assistant, Owens continues to serve the university in a variety of ways. She’s served on many search and screen committees and several working groups, including the People Admin initiative, BP Logix initiative, e-Retention efforts and more. A pet-lover, Owens is involved with Lucky Paws Midwest, a local animal rescue. 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 and currently resides in Hammond.

Though her duties are extensive, according to one nominator, Owens is always willing to be a team player who meets challenges and facilitates opportunities.

“What do I like best about working with Lisa? It isn’t her quality of work, which is exceptional. It isn’t her attention to detail or commitment or flexibility, all of which are outstanding. No, what I like best are her attitude and approach. Lisa interacts with personnel, internal and external, who have a variety of roles or come from various levels within organizations – faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, donors, industry representatives and others,” they explained. “Each is given the same level of attention, professional yet caring, personal yet complete. She is the face of CAFES and UWRF to many and goes beyond just putting on a good face, though she does that well.”

Custodial Services

University Staff- Program

UW-River Falls Chancellor Maria Gallo has announced that the Custodial Services unit is the recipient of the first-ever Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff – Program/Unit/Department.

Custodial Services 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, office and furniture moves and pest and rodent control, to day-to-day tasks including snow and ice removal, recycling collection, light bulb replacement, building unlocks and more.

“Custodial staff have been the hardest hit by the pandemic and yet the outstanding work they do has not been diminished at all. I see staff in this department go above and beyond so regularly, it's almost not even noticed as above or beyond,” said one nominator. “They do the hardest work with the least amount of recognition in my opinion.”

Jamie Dunn

Custodian, Prucha Hall
University Staff- List A

Jamie Dunn, a custodian in Prucha Hall, has been honored with the 2020 Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff. Dunn has spent more than two decades as a custodian at UW-River Falls and along the way, has earned the admiration and respect of both his peers and students.

In their nomination materials, one of Dunn’s nominators emphasized how his ability to both pivot and go the extra mile have contributed to the university over the years and notably during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When COVID-19 hit, Jamie was one of four custodians that stayed on campus to clean rooms so that the remaining students could be moved to one hall,” explained the nominator. “He also played a key role in the spring 2020 move-out process, working extra time on weekends to ensure that touch points were cleaned hourly and serving as a resource for students and parents who had questions.”

Dunn has been nominated by Prucha and Johnson Hall residents many times for the “Of the Month” awards coordinated by the National Residence Hall Honorary. In one nomination, a student noted Dunn’s ability to go above and beyond.

“Jamie is so much more than just a person who cleans Prucha Hall. He is the kind of person who would do literally anything for a resident and genuinely wants to get to know the staff and residents of Prucha Hall. His work doesn’t go unnoticed in the sense of how much he really adds to the community through the connections [with residents] that he makes,” remarked the student.

Dunn’s nominator also emphasized his ability to connect with students: “Jamie doesn’t search out recognition, he just focuses on getting to know the students, helping his fellow custodians and providing a clean and safe residence hall.”

Jason Winget

IT Manager, DOTS
University Staff- List B

Jason Winget, an IT manager in the Division of Technology Services, is a 2020 recipient of the Chancellor’s Recognition Award for University Staff. A UW-River Falls alumnus, 2021 marked Winget’s 24th year of employment with the university.

A member of the campus Emergency Management Team, Winget played an essential role in the UW-River Falls COVID-19 pandemic response. In their nomination materials, Winget’s nominators repeatedly referenced his resourcefulness, creativity and leadership abilities.

“In March 2020, Jason stepped up and took the lead on our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and worked to support the campus in the initial phase of our COVID-19 pandemic response. He spent every hour, literally 16 or more a day – and weekends – for several weeks making sure that our campus was safe until he was relieved,” explained one nominator.

Other nominators reiterated Winget’s commitment to the university, as well as the other skills that he employs in both his usual role as an IT manager and his role on the EOC.

“Jason’s role was performed with the utmost professionalism and always demonstrated his willingness to absorb other duties as assigned,” remarked a nominator. “He consistently applied creativity to the necessary initiatives, a list of which is too numerous to list.”

“The campus’ success last year was a direct result of Jason’s dedication, attention to detail and commitment to the UW-River Falls community,” added an additional nominator. “Though this was an incredibly stressful time for the campus with so many unknowns, Jason handled each bump in the road with the utmost positivity and professionalism.”

Craig Homan

Craig Homan, a facilities technician, is a recipient of the 2019 Chancellor’s Award for University Staff. 

After nearly ten years with UWRF, Craig has come to be known as respected team member with wide-ranging expertise. Nominators described Craig as someone who is not afraid of taking on new tasks and comes to work every day with a smile on his face and a positive attitude. He is a true joy to work with, they said.

Craig Homan 20200110

Brenda Irvin

Brenda Irvin, budget and policy analyst in the Business and Finance Office, received the 2019 Chancellor’s Award for University Staff.

Brenda works closely with many budget managers on campus to help them understand their budgets and develop multi-year forecasts. Several of those nominating Brenda said her exceptional level of service, expertise and dedication to UWRF contributes significantly to the success of the university’s employees and students. 

“Brenda does all of this and much more with a smile, easy laugh and an attitude of ‘how can I help you?’” a nominator said. Brenda joined UW-River Falls in 2012.

Brenda Irvin 20200110

Gladys Cataract

Gladys Cataract, custodian in UWRF’s Hathorn Hall received the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for University Staff.

Gladys has been with the university since 2012 and puts her students at the center of everything she does.

Gladys takes great pride in working with and caring for what has been described as her “adopted” family, numbering approximately 185 UWRF students.

Those nominating Gladys for this special award remarked consistently on her work ethic and the care she demonstrates for the students living in Hathorn Hall.


Kay Corey 

Kay Corey, Dean’s assistant in the College of Education and Professional Studies, is the recipient of the 2018 Chancellor’s award for University Staff.

Having been with UW-River Falls for ten years, Kay’s commitment to professionalism and exceeding standards were common themes in the nominations received for this award.

As well as her being a “joy to work with” Kay received kudos for being “organized, reliable and dependable…providing all departments and programs within CEPS exceptional support, guidance, expertise and service.”

Nominators described Kay as courteous and respectful, modeling integrity and ethical behavior, regularly willing to set aside her work to help others with theirs – humbly and without fanfare.

One nominator even said that it is Kay who keeps the college running.

Kay excels at her job and provides significant contributions to the university, making her a fine recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

Thank you and congratulations, Kay!


Greg Thomas

Greg joined the university in fall 2011 and has been a valuable asset, working tirelessly to ensure not only that his areas are cared for and maintained but also that his colleagues are successful. He embodies a spirit of positivity and humor that creates an enjoyable atmosphere even on the most difficult of jobs. His ability to assess a situation and develop a host of creative solutions ultimately picking the most efficient and cost effective method is unparalleled. One such instance is when he had to move a 400-pound motor down a flight of stairs. Greg created a solution and accomplished the task before his supervisor could even ask what the plan was. Greg’s commitment to his division is demonstrated in his willingness to assist the ground crews with snow removal, and his having taken on duties in the welding shop.

Roxanne Schneberger

Roxanne has been with UWRF for 34 years and has filled numerous roles and responsibilities with exceptional dedication. It was clear from her peer nominations that Roxanne continually goes above and beyond what is expected of her to serve her department and the university as a whole. In addition to her role as a purchasing agent for Facilities Management, Roxanne has also taken on management of campus-wide elevator maintenance, fire extinguisher and suppression system inspections, and signage orders. Her regular responsibilities include tasks such as scheduling the grease pit cleaning at the University Center, ordering propane fuel for our laboratory farms, and procuring all material and equipment needed for our maintenance and construction projects. Roxanne approaches each task with a dedication and commitment to do her best that is unparalleled.

Many of the colleagues who nominated Roxanne said that her degree of precision, timeliness and attention to detail make her an instrumental part of the university. She is a key team member in Facilities Management, her “organization and recordkeeping are amazing,” and she is always working to make sure her division runs efficiently and effectively, keeping “meticulous auditable records.”

Roxanne is considered a “go-to” person for any questions regarding parts or equipment and often needs to work under short deadlines and in emergency situations, extending her day to help track down parts and contractors. Her "ability to keep up to date regarding contract rules and UW System regulations is amazing.”

Mary Miller

Mary Miller is a financial specialist in Student Billing has worked at UWRF for 11 years. Supervisors and colleagues praised Mary's diligence, sincerity, and commitment. Anthony Rubis described Mary as "an asset not only to the Student Billing Office, but every other office on campus."

"She is masterful in her steady follow up on the smallest of items. She is very unflappable," said Katrina Larson.

"Mary is continually honest and provides sincere customer service to all UWRF students and staff while always ensuring compliance with policy and procedures," said Beth Ann Richter, financial programs supervisor. "She is known for having a calm and reasonable presence, whether dealing with money, complex billing, or upset students. Mary always finds a way to bring a kind, reassuring, and respectful point of view to any situation."

Mary has taken vacation during UWRF's spring break to perform service work for Habitat for Humanity alongside students.

Mike Mueller

Mike Mueller, an electrician in Building Maintenance, has worked at UW-River Falls for 5 years. His supervisor, Steve Wodarz, praised Mueller's stellar troubleshooting skills and positive attitude.

"I have had to call on Mike to troubleshoot all types of electrical problems," Wodarz said. "During several of these situations, the temperature has been well below zero, time is very critical, and many times there is not an instruction manual for Mike to follow. Some of the conditions where Mike has been needed are very hot, noisy, dirty, and dangerous. He always shows up with a can do attitude and isn't afraid to get his hands dirty."

Mike is well-respected among his coworkers and peers at UWRF, earning high praise from his colleague Lurene Johnson. 

"Mike is one of the only people I know that walks in every day with a great smile and leaves at the end of the day the same way. He has the most positive attitude I have ever seen," Johnson said.

In addition to his electrician duties, Mueller has served the university by participating in several committees in Facilities Management.


Craig Carlson

Craig Carlson, a senior electronic technician, is one of the individuals responsible for much of the existing telephone and telecommunications system on campus. Much of his work is performed in hidden places that most students and staff don't see, in back mechanical rooms, working on the maze of telecommunications junction panels or above the ceilings, pulling wires. 

"Craig's willingness to take on difficult projects and extra work outside the scope of his job description are hallmarks," said Mark Gillis in his nomination of Craig.

Joe McIntosh

Joe McIntosh is a building and grounds supervisor. 

"Joe has great talent and skill in grounds maintenance and a deep and ongoing commitment to make the UWRF grounds as beautiful, useful, and sustainable as possible with the available resources," said David Zlesak in his nomination of Joe.

Joe's dedication goes beyond his work duties, as he embodies UWRF's commitment to global education and engagement by hosting and mentoring many of our international students and participating in the Wisconsin in Scotland program. He has worked with student groups to clear out invasive plants along the Kinnickinnic and is proactive in working with programs on campus that use the grounds for teaching. 

"Joe leads by example and exemplifies what it truly means to be a hard worker," said Max Hansen and Dane Pronschinske, student grounds workers.

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.

Sue Freiermuth

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.'"

Ken Smith

Connie Smith

Connie Smith has many years of experience working with small and large companies to improve safety and risk management practices. She has been teaching 10 and 30 hour OSHA compliance courses for more than 15 years. Working to mitigate risks and preventing accidents and injuries is the major focus of the Risk Management Department. Other responsibilities include having signature authority for contracts, managing property and liability claims, performing safety training, authorizing drivers, and assuring compliance with local, state, and federal regulations related to the environment, worker safety, hazardous waste, and emergency preparedness.

"I've lost track of the number of issues Connie has resolved on the part of faculty, students, and staff," said Mike Stifter, executive director of facilities planning and management, in his nomination. "She is the consummate professional and her enthusiasm is contagious."

Connie Smith

Jay Unseth

Jay Unseth began serving UW-River Falls as an electronics/media technician in February 2002. His primary duties include classroom technology technical support, DE facilitation, videoconferencing coordination and all around "utility man." 

Jason also serves as chief operator and engineer for WRFW-FM, the campus radio station. For the past seven years, Jason has served as UWRF's official representative to the UW System Educational Media Technology Council. He served as president of EMTC for four years and a past president and past member-at-large on the Board of Directors for the St. Croix Valley Community Band. He also served as the technical/crafts representative on the UWRF Classified Staff Advisory Council. Off the clock, Jay enjoys music composition, astronomy, and spending time with his family and friends. He is proud to call UWRF and River Falls his home.
Jason Unseth-4

Tom Engesether

Tom Engesether is an electrician in Facilities Management. A dedicated and skilled electrician, Tom is lauded by his co-workers for his positive attitude and professionalism, traits that have helped facilities management maintain strong working relationships with the campus community and external stakeholders including contractors and the City of River Falls.

Willing to work extra hours to meet the needs of students, Tom is passionate about maintaining clean and safe work environments, an important trait since he handles the university's high voltage electrical work. He serves as a mentor, supervising an apprentice electrician and training new electricians.

Tom is described by his colleagues as a silent and personable leader. 

"He doesn't say much, but when he does, you know it bears listening to," said Mike Stifter in his letter of support for Tom's nomination.

Tom is actively engaged off campus as well. Tom is a history buff and has participated in Civil War reenactments for many years. Tom is also very active in the American Legion in River Falls, participating in the Memorial Day color guard. 


Joan Kratt

Joan Kratt is a retired academic department associate in Journalism/Marketing Communications and Political Science. 

Supervising student workers, managing budgets, planning conferences, and developing webpages for one department is notable in Joan's duties. Doing so for two departments is remarkable. Doing all of this for two academic departments, while also assisting the departments of co-workers who children become ill and providing administrative support to Faculty Senate and the International Studies Program is downright amazing.  

Creating calm in the midst of a flurry of activity, all with a friendly disposition, was a constant theme expressed among by Joan's co-workers. 

Davida Alperin cites Joan as the indispensable resource she could lean on during two stints as acting chair of the Political Science Department. When asked to list Joan's title in his nomination materials, David Bonko said he really wasn't sure as he always thought of her as the director of continuity. He went on to equate her with Radar O'Reilly on M*A*S*H, due to her ability to "mold chaos into productivity."

Joan Kratt 

Dan Asp

Dan Asp, an electronic technician in Facilities Management, has worked at UW-River Falls for more than 25 years. Dan can be counted on to take phone calls, day or night, weekday or weekend to deal with issues with the elevators, alarms, heating and cooling systems, and other technologies on campus. Also, because of Dan’s encouragement, fire alarm systems were upgraded, resulting in a state and campus funded project to update the entire system over the next few years.

Dan’s dedication and knowledge helps keep UWRF safe for all persons. He is also a reason that our campus has annually been one of the most energy efficient in the UW system and upper Midwest.

Deb Toftness

Deb Toftness has worked at UW-River Falls for 26 years. She is a communications specialist in University Communications. Each morning she compiles announcements, meeting and event blurbs, etc., for the campus e-newsletter, Falcon Daily. In addition, Deb writes for and edits university publications including Falcon Features and Falcon Online and writes, edits and distributes campus news releases, supervises student assistants, manages departmental budgets and serves on campus committees.

Off campus, she is a dedicated volunteer in the community and school district. She has been the publicity chair for the River Falls High School Band Boosters for 11 years, eagerly supporting any event/activity her children may be involved in. She has been an adult and community service mentor for 4-H  and Girl Scouts for many years. She whole-heartedly and extraordinarily serves UWRF and the area community tirelessly.

Deb Toftness

Brad Johnson

Brad "Bob" Johnson lost his courageous battle with cancer before we were able to commend him with the award. His wife, Connie, was able to accept the award on behalf of him and his family. Working as a custodian in South Hall, he was well known for his interpersonal skills and willingness to do little things to brighten everyone’s day. He made visitors to South Hall feel like they were the most important people in the world. Brad made sure he got to know everyone who worked in South Hall, too.

Brad was an avid hunter, a fan of Brett Favre, and a talented handyman. From placing flowers on the women’s restroom counters to countering an ant invasion, Brad always went the extra mile. His small gestures to make South Hall a better place to work and visit made a huge impact on everyone. Brad is truly missed.

Sue Watters

Sue Watters is a university services associate in Career, Counseling, and Student Health Services.  

Sue can be called upon to multitask and switch roles on short notice and quite often. She might be checking on event details, the next minute be comforting an emotional student, and the next be talking to a parent about his or her depressed student. Through all of the chaos, Sue creates order and maintains the poise and calm needed to effectively work with potential employers through Career Services at a moment’s notice. Her co-workers noted her foresight and ability to plan ahead; she typically has already finished a task that others are just getting around to proposing. 

Sue's generous, caring spirit extends beyond UW-River Falls. She is deeply committed to service projects both here and abroad.

Sue Watters

Ron Gavin

Ron Gavin, a maintenance mechanic in Facilities Management, has more than 30 years of service to campus and is a mentor and role model for his colleagues and beyond, according to those who nominated him for the award.

“He is a constant inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with, helping anyone and everyone with whatever they are involved in,” said Lurene Johnson in a nomination letter. “He has probably forgotten more than I will ever hope to know, yet he is always there to lend a helping hand no matter what the job entails. He always lifts your spirits with his whistle and his unshakable good mood. He has served on many committees on campus and never turns down a call for help. He constantly goes out of his way to keep the morale up.”

Virgil Monroe

Virgil Monroe has been textbook services manager since 1983, having joined campus in 1974. Virgil's outstanding work with developing a textbook rental system on campus has made headlines in the nation, including The New York Times.

When the Board of Regents examined the escalating cost of textbooks and what could be done about it, UWRF and its textbook rental program were cited as a benchmark for which all other institutions should strive.

Virgil was asked to testify in Washington, D.C. in 2004 before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness at a hearing “Are College Textbooks Priced Fairly?”

Virgil Monroe

Doreen Cegielski

Doreen Cegielski has served the UWRF community in a variety of capacities for more than 15 years. She began her career at UWRF in 1992 working in the University Bookstore. Since then, she has worked in Health and Human Performance, Animal and Food Science, Continuing Education/Extension and Career/Counseling Services. Doreen's current position is an academic department associate in Animal and Food Science, where she oversees student workers, manages the UWRF equine herd inventory and manages aspects of the department budget.

In addition, Doreen has also served on several UWRF committees over the years, including co-chair for the 2007-08 Employee Development Committee. She was also a member of the Chancellor's Recognition Award for Classified Staff voting committee and the Sally Margis Award voting committee in 2007. Other committees she has served include the Campus Safety Committee, the Chancellor's Student Recognition Committee and the Commission on Status of Women.

She is also an active member at St. Bridget's Church, where she has volunteered since 1992 assisting with a variety of projects and campaigns ranging from sewing to fundraising to ministry.

Doreen Cegielski

Ron Lundgren

Ron Lundgren has been a part of the UWRF campus community since 1991. He works as a general services carpenter in Facilities Management.

When he is not working, Lundgren enjoys spending time with his grandkids and pursuing his hobbies, which include cooking, gardening and yard work.

Ron Lundgren

Gayle Dodge

Gayle Dodge has worked as a program associate in the agricultural economics and agricultural engineering departments since 1985.

In a nomination letter, David Trechter of the Survey Research Center, wrote, "Gayle is simply integral to the functioning of both departments with which she works. ... Without a doubt, Gayle Dodge is the best [program associate] with whom I have had the pleasure of working."

She is actively involved with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and the Hearing Loss Association of Western Wisconsin and was a past coordinator of her church's food booth at the Pierce County Fair.

Gayle Dodge

Joe Langer

Joe Langer is a custodian in the Chalmer Davee Library, a post he had held for 21 of his 22 years as a campus employee.

Joe graduated from the Delavan School for the Deaf in 1983. Joe's library co-workers such as Brad Gee offered this praise in nominating him for the award.

"Joe's work ethic is contagious," said Brad Gee in nominating Joe for the award. "There is no justification for being slothful in the presence of a man who is hefting chair onto tables as if they were matchsticks - and this after having completed the morning chores on the farm."

Library Director Valerie Malzacher added "Joe is one of the most hard-working, dedicated, friendly and helpful individuals that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I came to realize just how dedicated Joe is when were challenged with two years of library remodeling."

Joe Langer

Matthew Fitzgerald

Matt Fitzgerald works in information technology for Career Services. Matt manages the "Hire A Falcon" online job service and the "Mentor Network" system and has presented workshops on career-related topics for students.

Matt is an adviser to the racquetball club on campus. He is also a volunteer webmaster for the Wisconsin Racquetball Association. He has also served on the board of the St. Croix Valley Employers Association and a member of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges and Employers, which awarded him with its President's Award for Excellence.

He is an alderman for District 4 in River Falls and is a member of the River Falls Park Board, the Housing Coordination Team and the Cooperative Boundary Commission. He recently completed the Leadership River Falls program offered through the River Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Matt Fitzgerald

Michael Woolsey

Mike Woolsey advises university departments on creating and maintaining Web pages and maintains the University's top-level Web pages.

Woolsey served in the US Army Reserve, has been active in the community as a member of the the River Falls Utility Commission, and River Falls Cable Television Advisory Committee. In addition, he has served as an interim City Council member for District 1. He has been employed with the university since 2001.

Mike Woolsey

Esekial Mendoza

Esekiel Mendoza is a power plant operator at the Heating Plant. Since Esekial left for Iraq with other members of the Wisconsin National Guard in November, 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," Roxanne said. "I'm so proud of him, and this award is really an honor."

Esekial began his work at the power plant in 2003. Since then, he 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 UWRF 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 Esekial 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."

Esekial is expected to return to the states around Thanksgiving and will resume his position at the university.


Susan Zimmer

Susie Zimmer, program assistant for the Art Department and Outreach, has been at UWRF since 1996. She provides 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 and takes an active role with Gallery 101. She deals with outside artists, speakers and gallery directors to ensure that visitors to the university receive a favorable impression, said Padgett.

Aside from Susie's technical duties, she has taken on the role as an unofficial adviser 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 Susie.

"Susie is always willing to find a solution to problems that will make students feel heard and understood," said Padgett.

Susie 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, Susie lead a petition in support of a fair and equitable contract for UW classified staff. She spoke about this issue, at Nylander's request, to the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee.

Susan Zimmer

Lurene Johnson

Lurene Johnson, a shipping and mailing clerk, has worked at UWRF for three years delivering mail, packages and freight to every department on campus, rain or shine

"Lurene shows what we used to call in the U.S. Army a 'can do attitude.' Whatever the task, whatever the job, whatever the project, her response seems to indicate 'I can do it,' " said Tom Weiss, director of Purchasing Services and Johnson's supervisor.

Nathan Beeman of Housekeeping Services said Johnson has one of the most physically demanding positions on campus, but is always smiling.

"Often times I have seen her moving items with a hand truck that must weigh twice her weight, yet she never asks for assistance," Beeman said.

Lurene Johnson

Monica Voiles

Monica Voiles is an office manager in the Admissions Office, She has worked there since August 1995. She is involved in all facets of the admissions process, such as speaking with prospective students, assembling recruitment materials and registering students.
Director of Admissions Alan Tuchtenhagen, Monica's supervisor, believes her position is one of vital importance to the success of the university's enrollment.

"Her upbeat, helpful and cheery approach to her job has made a positive impression on literally thousands of students," Tuchtenhagen said.

Monica also serves as housemother for the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity. President Brandon Bruder of Alpha Gamma Rho said she has been one of the best additions to the fraternity in a long time.

"Monica is our mother figure away from home and always wants to help us succeed and become better men," Bruder commented.

Dean Stephen Ridley of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences said Monica's dedication to duty and her employer is rare.

"Knowledge is important, and when combined with a positive attitude and a welcoming demeanor, one's effective working knowledge seems to be multiplied into another dimension. It is this dimension in which Monica operates," Ridley said.

Monica Voiles

Joel Palmquist  

Joel Palmquist has worked as a facilities repair worker in the Facilities Management since 1995. The work he does involves mostly painting and carpentry for projects such as office remodeling.

Those who nominated him for the award cited his superior work, his reliability, his skill in working with students and his generous contributions of time and talent to the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

"I can trust Joel to do anything that is assigned to him," said Greg Kohler, crafts worker and maintenance supervisor and Joel's supervisor. "During the summer, Joel runs our paint crews, supervising up to 20 students who paint our residence halls and academic buildings. They all love working for Joel, and they get a lot accomplished. I am very, very pleased to see Joel get this award."

Joel first volunteered to work with Habitat for Humanity 19 years ago in Georgia. He volunteered just for the experience and has been working with the organization ever since. He serves as a site supervisor for the campus chapter, making sure the necessary building materials are at the site and training the students.

The campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity is currently in the process of raising $30,000 to build a twin home, and Joel plans to help out by donating the monetary reward he will receive as part of the Chancellor's Award. He also plans to donate his hair. "If the students raise $1,000, I have pledged to shave off my beard," he said. "If they raise $2,000, I will shave off what little hair I have on my head! I'm hoping people will have an incentive to contribute, so they can see me without hair."

The students need $5,000 to $7,000 more before the end of May, he said, then they will have reached their goal. Donations can be made to the UWRF Foundation/Habitat for Humanity, with a note indicating that the contribution is for the Hair-Razing fund.

Joel Palmquist

Sherry Reis

Reis has 26 years of service with the university. Since 1978, she has worked as a program assistant in the Math Department. She was hired in 1976 as a typist, a position she held for a month before becoming a stenographer in the Purchasing Department and later moving to the Math Department.

"Sherry receives uniform praise from the faculty and staff for her coordination and management of the department. Her dedication and hard work have certainly made my job as chair much easier," said her supervisor, department chair and Professor David Yurchak.

"In addition to all of her other responsibilities, Sherry coordinated the Science/Technology/Mathematics Fair held each spring for the ten years the fair ran," Yurchak said. "She also, for many years, coordinated the Career Choices Workshop. Her work for these events included handling announcements, advertisements, correspondence and budgets. She currently does this for the UW-RF Math Expo Traveling Exhibit."

Her nominators consistently mentioned Sherry's friendly manner, her willingness to put in hours outside of the regular workweek, her computer skills and her competency in all aspects of her job.

Sherry Reis

Kristine Jones  

Kris joined the facilities staff in 1992 as a custodian. Like many of her colleagues, she has been responsible for many facilities. She's been assigned to work at Hagestad Student Center, Residence Life, Stratton Hall, the Agricultural Sciences Building, East Hathorn Hall and South Hall. Currently, she is assigned to Davee Library.

Nate Beeman, UWRF custodial services program supervisor, who nominated Kris, said she brings a lot of "extras" to the job. 

"Kris, in particular, is always willing to go the extra mile," he said. "She never turns me down for anything out of the ordinary. She is the first to volunteer for assignments. She willingly comes in on Saturdays or she rearranges her personal schedule to help out. She's in it for what's best for the university.

"Every place she's worked, she's been well-liked. When she transfers to another building, people are unhappy to see her leave," Virgil Nylander said. "Jones embodies what UWRF is all about."

"It's not really about bricks and mortar that makes the campus special," Nylander said. "Kris knows precisely what it is. She told me: 'It's the people. I like to meet all of the new people in the offices. I've made some really good friends; including some who remain my friends even if they are no longer on campus.'"

Kris Jones

Doris Wolf

Doris Wolf began working part-time as a typist in the Athletics Department in 1981. Since then she has been promoted four times, and, said Virgil Nylander, with each new assignment has excelled at her responsibilities.

Presently, she monitors athletics accounts, tracks monthly budgets, maintains the records and serves as the eligibility liaison with the Registrar's Office and with coaches. Wolf also prepares NCAA reports, game schedules, contracts, purchase order, travel arrangements, and handles game-day responsibilities.

Interim Athletics Director Rick Bowen, in nominating Wolf for the award, noted that "Doris goes above and beyond to get the job done. She is invaluable to the smooth running of the athletic program. Her loyalty to the university, her work ethic, her outstanding interpersonal skills, and her years of dedicated service make her a truly valued employee."

Doris Wolf

Kay Montgomery

Kay Montgomery has worked as a cataloger in the Chalmer Davee Library for the past 11 years, and has served as chair of the Library Exhibits and Presentations Committee for 10 years. With Montgomery¹s guidance, the committee has given special attention to exhibits that express the diversity of the campus and community.

In addition, Montgomery is past president and current treasurer of the local chapter of American Association of University Women (AAUW).

"Kay has worked diligently to bring quality exhibitions to the library and to broaden the cultural experience of the students," said one of her nominators.

Jim Brantner

Jim Brantner has worked at the university for 10 years, most recently as groundskeeper for Facilities Management. Though he performs many duties, he can most often be found on a riding mower during the growing season or removing snow from the sidewalks during the winter. His expertise and pride in his work are evident in everything he does.

"Mr. Brantner always has a positive attitude and is just one of those people who is great to have around. He is not just a good UWRF employee, he is a great one!" his nominators said of him.

"I was impressed by all the nominees this year," said Chancellor Ann Lydecker "Jim and Kay stood out from the others. It was my pleasure to honor them with this award."

Jim Brantner

Fay Westberg

Fay Westberg was recognized for her outstanding performance in her position with the university.

Westberg's primary duty as a program assistant in Agricultural Education is to provide secretarial and administrative assistance. She transferred to UWRF in 1987 from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Field Services.

Fay Westberg

Patrick Wrenn

Patrick Wrenn, an electrician, started his employment at UWRF in 1994. His primary duty is to install electrical wiring on campus remodeling projects. He also performs preventative maintenance on existing building equipment and newly installed equipment.

Classified award recipients are selected each year on a nomination basis. Criteria include success in fulfilling the overall responsibilities of their job, participation in university service projects outside of the job description, and interpersonal skills and attitude on the job. Classified Staff members are those who support a department throughout the UWRF campus.

Tammy Britt and Debra Martin were cited for outstanding service with the Chancellor's Recognition Award to Classified Staff.

Britt, a Custodian 2 in Housekeeping, has been an employee at UWRF since 1990.

Martin, a Program Specialist 1, coordinates facilities, equipment, catering services, and technical services for events held on campus.

Classified staff members are those who support departments throughout the university in such positions as program assistants, custodians, security officers, and computer programmers.

Tammy Britt and Debra Martin

Two classified staff members have been cited by Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau for service to UW-River Falls.

Larry Larson, an employee in custodial services, and Annette Blanchette, a student status examiner who aids elementary education majors in course selection and planning in the College of Education, are recipients of the "Chancellor's Recognition Award to Classified Staff."

Larson and Blanchette were honored at the annual classified employee Holiday Luncheon Dec. 12, where the Chancellor acknowledged their outstanding performance over and above the requirements of their positions. Selection criteria included success in fulfilling the overall responsibilities of the job description, participation in University service projects outside of the job description and human relations skills.

Larson, a native of River Falls, has been employed with the University for 20 years. He began as a limited term employee in custodial services before assuming his current position.

Blanchette, whose hometown is Oshkosh, has been employed with the University for 31 years. She began as a library assistant and then transferred to the educational technology center before assuming her current position. Blanchette will be retiring in February.

Larry Larson

Three members of the classified staff at UW-River Falls have been cited for exceptional service to the University.

Receiving the Chancellor's Recognition Award are Alice Cernohous, Alan Murray and Tom Rotsaert.

Recipients are nominated by faculty and staff and are selected based on their professional competency, participation in UW-RF service projects outside of their job descriptions, and their human relations skills.

"These three individuals are very deserving of this award," said Virgil Nylander, vice chancellor for administration and finance. "They approach their jobs with enthusiasm, commitment and a desire to be helpful to others. We hear that these attitudes and behaviors are missing in many of today's employees; this is not true of these individuals or of employees on this campus.

"We are pleased to present this award to these three deserving individuals. They truly represent the best of our employees."

Cernohous joined the UWRF staff in 1973 and has served as a program assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance since September of 1993. Prior to that, she spent nearly 20 years in the Residence Life department.

She and her husband Mike reside in River Falls and have three children: Bobbi, Todd and Tanya.

Murray has served as an electronics technician since September 1976. He has been recognized previously with a Wisconsin Merit Award. On campus, the Journalism Department presents an annual award in his name to a student who provides the greatest service contribution to radio station WRFW. Murray resides with his wife Nancy in Hudson.

Rotsaert has served as an electronics technician at UWRF since September 1978. Prior to that he held similar positions for the state and worked at UW-Superior and the Fox Lake Correctional Institute. He and his wife Bonnie live in River Falls and have two children: Kristen and Jeff.

Al Murray_Alice Cernohous

Rain, sleet or snow, Jerry Neidermyer delivered the mail on campus for more than three decades. Before coming to River Falls, Neidermyer took business classes at Chippewa Valley Vocational Technical Institute after graduating from high school in Spring Valley. Neidermyer came to campus in 1969, took a year of classes at UW-RF, and worked as a custodian in Hathorn Hall for about three years. He then transferred to the postal services department from which he retired. He received an Upper Deck Team Award from the Student Center in 1993, and in 1995, Neidermyer and Karen Gilbertson were the first recipients of the newly created Chancellor's Award for Excellence for Classified Staff. In 2004, the UW System Board of Regents and the state of Wisconsin recognized him for 35 years of service. Neidermyer said that over the years one of the most noticeable changes was the drop in inter-campus mail when e-mail was instituted as well as the computerization of mailings. He and his wife Margaret plan to travel, boat, hunt and fish during retirement as well as do some home remodeling. "We have flown to Washington to see my son Scott, but we plan on taking our first road trip there this summer," says Neidermyer, who has three grown sons and lives in River Falls.