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Staff Award Winners Lauded for Creativity, Commitment

Staff who did more—quite a bit more—than their duty were honored, May 18, as part of American University’s Staff Appreciation Week festivities. The winners of the 2010 Staff Performance Awards—who received a certificate of achievement, a cash award, and a day off from work—are:

Diversity award
School of Communication (SOC) staffers Jill Swiatowy and Veronica Cummings were recognized for their work on a diversity survey aimed at students. The survey’s response rate far exceeded expectations, and in the comments section, students repeatedly expressed gratitude at the chance to share their thoughts.

Now, Swiatowy, senior advisor, undergraduate recruitment and retention, and Cummings, academic division coordinator, are teaming up with the SOC diversity committee to plan focus groups in which minority students can discuss their experiences and offer suggestions for program development.

Teamwork award
Working across departmental lines can be tricky—but three AU organizations that call the Watkins Building home have mastered the art of cooperation.

To overcome scheduling and space conflicts, staff from the School of Public Affairs’ AU/NTL and Key Executive Leadership programs and the School of International Service’s Intercultural Management Institute formed the Committee for the Watkins Center for Executive Education. The group created a building calendar and meets regularly to discuss how to maximize space so all three programs can continue to flourish. The result is a beautifully maintained and smoothly operating professional meeting space.

Committee members include: Nina Allen, Subhiya Idilbi, Kim Kokich, Anna Myers, Amin Omidy, Karen Santiago, Bettina Sferrino, Jennifer Tether, Corrine Thompson, and Denise Watkins.

Innovation award
David Jaffe,
associate dean of student affairs at the Washington College of Law (WCL), recognized that students who have problems with alcohol or substance abuse often avoid seeking help out of fear of the consequences for their future legal careers. On his own initiative, Jaffe wrote and produced a video to educate law students on the importance of addressing any alcohol or drug issues while still in school.

Not only is the video now shown to WCL students and discussed in ethics classes, it’s been distributed to every law school in the United States.

Service to the AU Community
From crisis comes opportunity—for service. As H1N1 began to sweep across the country in spring 2009, the staff of the Student Health Center sprang into action.

The team partnered with the District of Columbia Department of Health to become an H1N1 distribution center and gathered information—which changed daily, and sometimes hourly—on how to track, care for, and protect members of the AU community. The team administered vaccinations to more than 2,000 students, faculty, and staff. As a result, the reported number of H1N1 cases was less than 1 percent of the campus population.

Team members include: Daniel Bruey, Barry Clark, Edythe Cook, Michelle DeSalvo, Joe Hudson, Tanisha Jagoe, and Kelli Karacki.

Service to the AU Community
While most of the city was hunkered down in their homes during Snowmageddon 2010, Patrick Ledesma braved the blizzard, walking to AU from Foggy Bottom not once, but three times. As assistant director of operations for the University Center, Ledesma felt obligated to coordinate programming for the thousands of students trapped on campus during the historic February snowstorms.

And Ledesma’s commitment to the University Center—and the students who congregate there—isn’t limited to snow days. This year, he produced 23 late-night and weekend events, including a film series and karaoke competition. He also manages five electronic displays located throughout the University Center and helped plan staff appreciation and commencement festivities.