Student and Campus Life employees pose together after the President’s Awards for Employee Excellence ceremony, held Nov. 7 in Barton Hall. 

Employee Excellence awards honor staff achievements

Achievements ranging from learning Mandarin to better communicate with guests, to installing a user-friendly elevator in Willard Straight Hall, to coordinating with Ithaca’s ReUse Center to decrease the carbon footprint of Cornell’s campus were honored with President’s Awards for Employee Excellence, presented Nov. 7 at Barton Hall.

Seventeen individuals and three teams of Cornell employees received awards in seven categories, highlighting the achievements of staff and faculty who excel in their roles.

“At its core, the Excellence Awards Program is an opportunity for us to celebrate our fantastic Cornell employees,” said Christine Lovely, vice president and chief human resources officer, at the event, which welcomed around 200 honorees, nominators, supervisors and senior leaders. “What is so special about these awards is their alignment with university values and priorities, recognizing the crucial part that staff play in making the great achievements of our institution possible.”

The employee excellence program was established in 2011 and has grown dramatically in the past decade with more employees involved in the program committee, an expansion of award categories and the number of nominations continuing to climb. This year, more than 170 nominations were received, recognizing 140 individuals across the university.

“The work of Cornell’s employees is incredibly varied,” President Martha E. Pollack said in a video message. “You make sure that our students are well-fed and comfortably housed, that our facilities are safe and clean, that our technology is working smoothly and our infrastructure is well maintained. Cornell’s employees work to ensure that everyone in our community has what they need to do their best work and to flourish. Each year, these awards show us not only the talent and diversity of our community, but also the diversity of Cornell’s work – and the countless ways that Cornell staff make that work not only possible, but extraordinary.”

In addition to the six award categories presented throughout the afternoon, Trustee Ezra Cornell ’70 attended on behalf of the Cornell Board of Trustees to announce the three employees chosen for the Trustee Award. This award was implemented outside the main categories as an opportunity for the board to recognize excellence, strong character, energy and passion for the university’s mission.

“It gives me great pride to know that Cornell University ensures that so many employees are recognized for their demonstrated commitment to the university and its programs,” Lovely said. “My congratulations to all the nominees. I am so pleased to learn about all your amazing accomplishments. Your commitment and care have not gone unnoticed.”

The awards and winners:

The Culture of Belonging Award, for creating and supporting an open, inclusive, welcoming and equitable workplace environment:

  • Apikanya McCarty, library technical services cataloger;
  • C.J. Burnett, marketing analytics and data reporting coordinator for Alumni Affairs and Development; and
  • Garry Gale, food service worker at Risley Dining Facilities.

The Game Changer Award, for developing or implementing a new approach:

  • Rob Scott, executive director of the Cornell Prison Education Program;
  • Calyn Fisher, management graduate field coordinator in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; and
  • Julie Edwards, director of the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives.

The Culture of Sustainability Award, for making contributions to the sustainable development and social equity of the Cornell campus:

  • Juliette Corazon, advising dean in the College of Arts and Sciences; and
  • Jessica Walker, administrator for finance and business operations at the Cornell Tech campus.

The Thoughtful Leader Award, for bringing out the best in others:

  • Chad Oliveiri, vice president of curriculum development with eCornell;
  • Jim Morris, senior vice president of enterprise programs with eCornell; and
  • Dan Sweeney, assistant vice president for finance and operations with Student and Campus Life.

The Mission-Possible Award, for supporting the university’s core mission to learning, discovery and engagement:

  • Andrea Haenlin-Mott, ADA coordinator for Facilities and Campus Services;
  • Rachel Abbott, extension associate in the Department of Public and Ecosystem Health at the College of Veterinary Medicine; and
  • Anton Ochoa, testing coordinator for Student Disability Services in Student and Campus Life.

The ONE Cornell Award, for a group that implements a project or solves a problem to positively impact Cornell and the community:

  • Organizational Development and Effectiveness (ODE) team; 
  • Cornell Academic Materials Program (CAMP) Advisory Committee; and
  • Office of Global Learning – International Services team.

The Trustee Award, for overall excellence:

  • Marget Kent, administrative assistant for the Cornell CALS AgriTech Hudson Valley satellite office;
  • Debbie Philip, senior director of executive human resources; and
  • Corey Earle, principal gift associate team lead in Alumni Affairs and Development.

Grace DePaull is a writer for the Division of Human Resources.

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Lindsey Knewstub