NESC Appreciation Award Recipients

2012-2013 NESC Appreciation Award

Congratulations to Chris Igielski, this year's winner of the Staff Appreciation Award.  Chris was nominated by two members of the UST community and we include their letters below.  The first is from Bob Werner, Geography Department.  The second is from Andy Lee, English Department. 

We congratulate Lori Seavers and Henry Radford Bishop, who were also nominated.

 

Bob Werner shares this about Chris:

Chris has worked at St. Thomas for 20 years.  She was the Administrative Assistant for the departments of Economics, History, Political Science, and the Division of Social Sciences from 1993-2000.  From 2000-2013, she has served as the Administrative Assistant for Geography, History, and Political Science, including the programs those departments administer, which has at times included: Justice & Peace Studies, Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies, and the Division of Social Sciences.  This position also includes a myriad of specific things, like orchestrating the details of the annual Havel Symposium, the History Department’s “Beyond the Classroom” speaker series, capstone seminar presentations, and the African-American history poster sessions.  The positions she has held here are Administrative Assistant I (1993-1996) and II (1997-2013).

Chris has considerable volunteer involvement within UST.  She was the UST Staff Council chair for four years and a member of Staff Council for six.  She served on the UST Mission Statement Task Force, the Bunch Who Lunch (a lecture/discussion forum that included faculty, which she co-organized for a number of years), and the University Committee on Women (as the Staff Council representative) and on the Open Doors campaign for staff.

 

Chris has always fostered connections among faculty and staff.  For example, when a new professor or instructor comes to the fourth floor of JRC, she ensures that members of other departments know who this person is, to welcome them and to support our community here.  Various faculty have asked her to make minor edits to their books and transcribe their interviews.

 

She continually monitors UST events, circulating information among the faculty, putting up posters, and letting faculty know if there is an event that aligns with their interest.  Chris is also deliberate in celebrating achievements of faculty, announcing their publications and making us aware of lectures they give or things they have accomplished.  She certainly fosters a community of respect and dignity.

 

The atmosphere on the fourth floor of JRC is congenial, thanks in large part to her efforts.  People’s attitudes and respect for one another are one of the most important factors contributing to job satisfaction, and certainly Chris is a big part of that.  I think that everyone who works on the fourth floor is happier knowing that they work in an environment where they respect and value one other.  That in turn affects, in some hard-to-measure-way, longevity of work, teacher’s attitudes toward students, and quite possibly, the quality of their teaching too.

 

David Kelley, the Geography Department chair, wrote in her last annual evaluation “Because of her many years of experience as our administrative assistant, she is able to anticipate deadlines and plan for the variety of projects and reports that need to be completed at the department level on a regular basis.”  He also writes that she stays ahead of all of her responsibilities.

 

Everyone in the three departments she works for recognizes her contribution to the collegial atmosphere we have.  That is partly responsible for her being awarded the Commendation Merit Award “in recognition for outstanding accomplishments” for 2002-03 and 2008-09.

 

Everyone who works here knows that if you give Chris a task that you can let it go, because she will follow up on it without fail.  In my 10 years in JRC, I have never known a single day when she had anything less than a positive attitude.

 

She also has an intuitive way of giving personal attention to any student, staff, or faculty member.  This is again something hard to provide data for, everyone on this floor would agree about that.  David Kelley, again from last year’s annual report, writes “one personal contribution for which we are grateful – and there are many – is Chris’s sense of hospitality”…and that her “acts of kindness, big and small, are a great help to faculty morale.”

 

Outside of UST, she has long served her parishes.  She was a lector at Transfiguration parish (Oakdale) for 25 years.   There, she was on the Home and School committee, chair of the Fall Festival, and active on the Liturgy Committee, Women’s Bible Study Group, the School Board, and Faith Formation (religious education for Junior-High students).  At various times, she has volunteered at Loaves and Fishes, Feed My Starving Children, and Habitat for Humanity.  She and her husband Tom now are members of St. Ambrose of Woodbury, where she serves as lector.

 

Chris currently participates in a Just Faith program at St. Ambrose, where the group reads and discusses service to the community as well as justice and peace issues.  She has attended a wide variety of lectures at UST.  She has taken Leadership Academy courses, typically about management and personnel issues here on campus, as well as a variety of IRT courses.  She gathers JRC fourth-floor faculty together for monthly birthday celebrations and invites us all to her home at the end of spring semester.  These activities very much help us to know one another.

 

 

Andy Leet shares this about Chris:

When I think of someone who wholeheartedly lives the mission of university and creates a sense of community on campus, I think of Christine (Chris) Igielski, who will be retiring at the end of this academic year after working at UST almost twenty years,  first for the Social Science Division and then for Geography/History/Political Science when those departments moved to the John Roach Center for the Liberal Arts in 2000.

According to Catherine Cory, chair of the History Department, Chris is an exemplary administrative assistant who is both a calming presence and unflappable: 

Chris is amazing!  She serves several departments on our floor and always has a smile and pleasant word for everyone, even when we are all asking for help at the same time.  She has an almost infinite amount of patience and she manages to deal with lots of interruptions from students, faculty, and department chairs all day.  Best of all, she has a wonderful gift of creating community through all the little things she does like bringing a snack for folks to share and remembering people's birthdays.  We have been so lucky to work with her.

Chris has served on staff council for three separate two-year terms and served as staff council president four of those years.  Part of her duties with the council involved serving as the liaison with the university Committee on Women and as one of two staff council representatives on the mission statement task force when that met in 2004.  In addition to serving on univeristy committees, Chris has also been an active force for good in the College of Arts and Sciences.  For numerous years, she was the volunteer scheduler for the display cases on the first floor of JRC - an important coordinating role that involved sending out email messages to College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) administrative assistants, encouraing them to highlight their departments' work and/or student projects.  She also recently joined other CAS staff members to put together a yearly calendar of CAS administrative assistant duties for a CAS BlackBoard site.  When it comes to volunteering for projects that fall outside of her regular duties, Chris is often one of the first people in line.   She really naturally feels the call to serve.

Closely related to this volunteerism one finds that community and hospitality are also important to Chris, whether it be inviting administrative assistants in JRC to share a brown bag lunch together.   She always brings something to share, too, stopping by an office to say hi and ask how things are going, attending lectures on campus or attending a staff awards ceremony to suppor those being recognized for years of service.

Closely aligned with these tenets of volunteerism,  community and hospitality is Chris' connection with her Catholic faith and her awareness of social justice issues, something that was reinforced by her participation in a Catholic social teaching class taught by Dr. Bernie Brady as part of the Leadership Academy program a few years ago.   At her home parish she currently serves as a lector and in a previous parish she was a Eucharistic minister, a youth minister, an organizer of the annual church festival, and a participant in a Habitat for Humanity project.  As a precursor to her upcoming retirement, she is currently participating in the JustFaith program, which is "a 30-week process that empowers participants to develop a passion and thirst for justice, and prepares them for the work of social ministry."

One could go on and on talking about Chris' positive outlook and ready willingness to pitch in when it comes to a tough project but I'll conclude here by reaffirming my choice to nominate her for the Staff Council Appreciation Award.  Her dedication and service to the university's mission, the people of the university community, and those outside of UST are admirable and deserve to be recognized.  She will be missed when she retires! 

2011-2012 NESC Appreciation Award

Jane Jackelen received the 2012 Nonexempt Staff Council Appreciation Award at this year’s Staff Appreciation Breakfast March 28. The award is presented annually to an hourly staff member in recognition for living and promoting the mission of the University of St. Thomas.

Jackelen is a member of the Alumni and Constituent Relations administrative staff. She was nominated for the award by a colleagues, Colleen Casey Simonson, manager, Constituent Relations. 

In her nomination, Casey Simonson mentioned that “Jane’s gregarious and cheerful personality lends itself to excellent working relationships throughout the university. She is the face and voice that our constituents and alumni hear when they call or stop in the office for event information. She is always ready and willing to serve as a resource.”

In addition to her work for the university, Jackelen is an active member of her parish, Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville, and involved in many parish projects: the Pelican Rapids confirmation retreat; the annual, weeklong missionary visit to Guymas, Mexico; as well as raising funds for the God’s Child Project in Guatemala. She also leads a group for youth aged 15 to 20 that provides a nonthreatening environment for young people to talk about their spiritual life and also participate together in service projects benefiting the broader community. 

“Jane’s concern is not for herself but for others. She does not seek the spotlight but rather celebrates the accomplishments of others,” Casey Simonson remarked. “She is a shining example to all of us and a gift to St. Thomas.”

 Previous award recipients are:

  • Mary Jean Loomis (2006)
  • Mary Kay O’Rourke (2007)
  • Pat Alexander (2008)
  • Barb Dunker (2009)
  • Helen Hunter (2010)
  • Jeanne Parsons (2011)

2010-2011 NESC Appreciation Award

Jeanne Parsons received the 2011 Nonexempt Staff Council Appreciation Award at this year’s Staff Appreciation Breakfast April 27.  The award is presented annually to an hourly staff member in recognition for living and promoting the mission of the University of St. Thomas.

Parsons is registration coordinator for all on-campus programs in the College of Applied Professional Studies, which includes the School of Education as well as Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She was nominated for the award by one of her colleagues: Jackie Grossklaus, department assistant in Leadership Policy Administration. 

In her nomination, Grossklaus mentioned that Parsons “works in an office where I am not certain how she gets anything done as there is always constant interruption.”  But Parsons always takes the time to “lend a smile and an ear to listen.”

Parsons responsibilities include entering all courses into Banner, working with students regarding registration as well as ensuring their academic program is on track for timely completion, providing training to others within the department and is said to handle all “proficiently and professionally.”

“Jeanne has been serving the university community for more than two decades,” remarked Dr. Chris Vye, associate dean in the College of Applied Professional Studies and Parson’s direct supervisor. “She embraces complexity and challenge in her day-to-day work, which exemplifies the excellence we aspire to at St. Thomas.”

 Previous award recipients are:

  • Mary Jean Loomis (2006
  • Mary Kay O’Rourke (2007)
  • Pat Alexander (2008)
  • Barb Dunker (2009)
  • Helen Hunter (2010)

2009-2010 NESC Appreciation Award

Helen Hunter received the 2010 Nonexempt Staff Council Appreciation Award at this year’s Staff Appreciation Breakfast March 31. The award is presented annually to an hourly staff member in recognition for living and promoting the mission of the University of St. Thomas. Previous award recipients are Mary Jean Loomis (2006), Mary Kay O’Rourke (2007), Pat Alexander (2008) and Barb Dunker (2009).

An administrative assistant since 2005 in St. Thomas’ Office for Mission and Office of Institutional Diversity, Hunter was nominated by for the award by one of her colleagues: Dr. Lawrence Potter, executive director and chief diversity officer. Her other “boss,” Father John Malone, vice president for mission, presented the award.

Formerly a secretary in the joint Social Work Department of the College of St. Catherine and what was then called the College of St. Thomas, Hunter began her academic career in 1983 at St. Catherine’s. She became a St. Thomas employee in 1984. After eight years in the St. Thomas social work office, she moved to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, where she worked until 2005.

In his nomination, Potter noted Hunter’s “impeccable organization skills, effective interpersonal skills and a great sense of humor.” He cited her leadership and support with two programs organized by the Office for Mission, Welcome Week and Heritage Week, along with her “impeccable customer service.”

“Time and time again, UST community members and visitors comment on how they appreciate Helen’s generosity and smiling face,” Potter wrote. “She is always enthusiastic about new opportunities to learn skills that will enhance her working relationships with others … . I have found Helen to be an inspiration to faculty, staff and students.”

Sharing her time and talents beyond the office, Hunter has been a volunteer visitor to UST international students and helped at numerous weekend projects and programs on campus and in the community. “Helen is truly an exemplary employee when it comes to giving back,” Potter added.

It probably would not surprise people to know that Hunter has been a teacher at a Catholic elementary school (St. Mary’s in Winona) as well as a secretary to a parish (she was the first parish secretary at St. John Neumann in Eagan) and companies in Chicago and the Twin Cities. She brings skills from each role to her job at St. Thomas.

At the Staff Appreciation Breakfast she told a story about one of those previous jobs ­­– as a church secretary some 25 years ago. She invited a certain priest to apply to be pastor of the parish. He turned her down because he was going to become pastor of the Basilica of St. Mary. The priest? Father Dennis Dease, who would next become president of St. Thomas.

“Over the next 18 or so years, he turned me down to be his secretary no less than three times,” Hunter said. “I recognized a ‘good thing’ 25 years ago, and I haven’t changed my mind.”

Was she disappointed he never hired her as his secretary? “Not anymore,” Hunter said. “I never would have gotten to work for Father Malone – and he’s terrific!”

Hunter and her husband of 42 years, Ned, are parents to two adult children and live in Inver Grove Heights.</p.

2008-2009 NESC Appreciation Award

Barb Dunker receives Staff Council Appreciation Award

Congratulations to Barb Dunker, who received the 2009 Staff Council Appreciation Award at this year's Staff Appreciation Breakfast on March 31. The award is presented annually to an hourly staff member "in recognition for living and promoting the mission of the University of St Thomas." Previous award recipients are Mary Jean Loomis (2006), Mary Kay O'Rourke (2007), and Pat Alexander (2008).

On behalf of the UST community, NESC extends its gratitude to Dunker for everything that she has done to promote the mission of the university and for being a role model in her effort to "educate students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good."

2007-2008 NESC Appreciation Award

Pat Alexander receives Staff Council Appreciation Award

From the Non-Exempt Staff Council (NESC)

Congratulations to Pat Alexander, who received 2008 Staff Council
Appreciation Award at this year's Staff Appreciation Breakfast on
April 15. The award is presented annually to an hourly staff member
"in recognition for living and promoting the mission of the
University of St. Thomas." Previous award recipients are Mary Jean
Loomis (2006) and Mary Kay O'Rourke (2007).

Alexander has been a member of the St. Thomas community for nine
years, working in both the Luann Dummer Center for Women and
the Center for Faculty Development. In her acceptance remarks at
the Staff Appreciation breakfast, Pat thanked her colleagues and
friends for making St. Thomas a very special place to work: "I have
discovered that we have a very dedicated group of people connected
with St. Thomas. You are loyal, hard-working and committed to the
mission of the university and your actions are reflected not only in
your service on the campus but to the community in general."

Outside of St. Thomas, Alexander is an active member of Hamline
United Methodist Church and serves as the chair of the Church and
Society Committee, the active service outlet for the church, which
works with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Paint-a-
Thon, and the Dorothy Day Center.

Susan Anderson-Benson, who works in the Center for Senior
Citizens' Education, nominated Alexander: " Pat was the first person
outside of my department that I met when I arrived at UST … . When
[Pat] learned I was a knitter, she invited me to join the campus Yarn
Tamers group, which I did once I was settled into my position."
Anderson specifically noted how Alexander's leadership of Yarn

Tamers promotes the university's mission: by promoting interaction
and support between the faculty, staff and students as they work on
personal and group projects; by continually reaching out to others
both within out outside the UST community to join Yarn Tamers;
and by choosing an annual cause for the group to support with their
knitting and crocheting handiwork. Anderson-Benson also said she
has appreciated "Pat's skillful coordination of events under the
women's center's auspices."

On behalf of the UST community, NESC extends its gratitude to
Alexander for everything that she has done to promote the mission of
the university and for being a role model in her effort to "educate
students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act
wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good."

2006-2007 NESC Appreciation Award

Mary Kay O'Rourke receives Staff Council Appreciation Award

From the Non-Exempt Staff Council

Congratulations to Mary Kay O'Rourke, recipient of the 2007 Staff Council Appreciation Award. The award was presented at the staff appreciation breakfast on April 17. This award is presented annually to an hourly staff member who lives and promotes the mission of the University of St. Thomas.

O'Rourke, program coordinator for the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, started at St. Thomas in August 1999 as an administrative assistant for Catholic Studies. For several years she also worked as circulation manager for the journal Logos.

Kathy Fell nominated O'Rourke for this award. In her nomination statement, Fell recognized some of the things that O'Rourke does within the St. Thomas community: "As coordinator of the Ryan Institute conference in October in Rome, her attention to the needs of all those participating was appreciated and acknowledged by the over 250 people attending from all over the world."

Fell also recognized O'Rourke's volunteerism in her parish church and the local community, from supporting a children's orphanage in Cuernavaca, Mexico, to assisting the Latino scholarship students by establishing a support group for Hispanic women who are new to the country and need empathy in their adjustment to a new culture. In addition to several other volunteer activities, O'Rourke served on the board of the Guadalupana Residence, a residence for Hispanic people in transition.

The following also were nominated for the Staff Council Appreciation Award:

  • Lois Dament, Communication Studies
  • Mary Dunn, Dean of Students Office
  • Helen Hunter, Office of Mission
  • Julie Kimlinger, O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center
  • Sherrie Maze, Office of the Executive Vice President/Chief Academic Officer
  • Sue Wagner, College of Business

2005-2006 NESC Appreciation Award

Mary Jean Loomis receives Staff Council Appreciation Award

From the Non-Exempt Staff Council

Congratulations to Mary Jean Loomis, recipient of the 2006 Staff Council Appreciation Award. The award was presented to Loomis at the Staff Appreciation Breakfast April 5. This is the first year this award was presented. In the years to come, it will be presented annually to an hourly staff member “in recognition for living and promoting the mission of the University of St. Thomas.”

Loomis has been a member of the St. Thomas community for 26 years. For more than 24 years she was an administrative assistant for seven different directors or associate deans in the College of Business. In 2004, she started working part time as the administrative assistant for the executive director in Alumni and Constituent Relations. In her acceptance remarks at the Staff Appreciation breakfast, Loomis noted how appropriate it was to receive this award during "Gratitude Week" an expressed her appreciation for everyone in the UST community, stating "what a blessing it was" in her life. Loomis concluded her talk with a quote from Mother Teresa.

Three UST community members nominated Loomis for this award. In her nomination statement, Helen Hunter noted that: "[Mary Jean Loomis] is one of those people who does the little things that make the world and St. Thomas a better place." Marie Klein concluded her nomination statement with: "Mary Jean's personal dedication to the truth as well as her gratitude for belonging to the UST community makes her a perfect candidate for this award." Barb Dunker nominated Loomis because: "There is no one who is a better 'ambassador' for this institution... who better to create and leave our alums and other constituents with a positive, good feeling about UST."

In addition to Loomis, the following staff members were nominated:

  • Linda Lee Borovansky, University Relations
  • Lois Dament, Communication Studies Department
  • Mary Denker, Dean of Students Office
  • Genean (Dede) Hering, Switchboard
  • Helen Hunter, Office of Mission
  • Julie Kimlinger, O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center
  • Mary Kay O’Rourke, John A. Ryan Institute
  • Sue Wagner, College of Business
  • Jennifer Wake, Campus Life

On behalf of the UST community, the Staff Council extends its gratitude to Loomis and all of the award nominees for everything that they do to promote the mission of the university and for being a role model in its effort to "... educate students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good."