Eighteen University of Iowa staff members were honored with this year’s UI Staff Council Awards for achievements ranging from excellence in service to leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Read more about each award here:
- The David J. Skorton Staff Excellence Award for Public Service is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions and have shown “exceptional imagination and dedication to improving the university community.” Service must include activities of high quality in staff governance, committee work, policy improvement, program creation, etc. and must be outside normal job responsibilities.
- UI Outstanding Staff Award recognizes current UI staff who have made outstanding accomplishments and contributions that significantly benefited or brought honor or recognition to the university.
- Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award recognizes staff members in conjunction with colleagues from the other Board of Regents institutions. Their accomplishments have significantly benefited the University, brought honor or recognition to the university, and had a significant positive impact on the state of Iowa.
- The Richard E Gibson Merit Staff Award for Innovation and Excellence in Customer Service recognizes an employee’s outstanding creativity and innovation in process improvement or exceptional achievement in providing customer service.
- The Staff Award for Distinguished Leadership in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was established to shine a light on staff members who work toward achieving a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive working environment. It is intended to celebrate those who embrace the value of diversity and recognize how it helps set the University of Iowa apart.
David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Service
Nick Benson has served as executive director for the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) at Iowa since 2018. In this position, Benson has extended the university’s presence and commitment to uplifting communities through significant and sustained partnerships. He has also overseen the creation of a digital resource hub full of articles, impact stories, training videos, program manuals, and reports to position OCE as a leader in community engagement. In 2022, Benson launched the Graduate Engagement Corps, a program that provides University of Iowa graduate students interested in community engagement with training, networking, and funding opportunities to elevate their research and increase their impact in communities. In addition, he championed implementing the Community Engaged Course designation, allowing faculty to promote classes that affect Iowa communities while allowing students to take advantage of unique experiential education opportunities through partnerships with outside organizations.
Linda Myers has served as academic and clinical program manager in the College of Nursing (CON) for more than 20 years. She is instrumental to the experience and success of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students. She has advised, supported, and advocated for more than 3,000 BSN students (about 25% of the college’s nearly 12,000 alumni). Myers has been involved extensively in committee work at Iowa. She is a member of the UI Student Success team, the UI Advising Council, and the Academic Support Collaborative. She was a member of the team that recommended a new student record system, leading to the development of MAUI, and is a member of the team that recommends MAUI enhancements. Myers is a diversity leader both within the CON and on campus. She was a founding member of the CON’s diversity committee, serving continuously since 2005 and as chair for three years. Myers provided excellent service to the UI and its students by serving as assistant women’s basketball coach from 1989 to 1998, a portion of which was during head coach Vivian Stringer’s tenure. The team went to the NCAA Final Four and won seven Big Ten championships.
University of Iowa Outstanding Staff Award
Kellsie Busho is a faculty member and clinical care coordinator in the UI Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, where her primary role is clinical instruction of audiology graduate students in the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Clinic. Since 2019, Busho has held the position of program coordinator for UI Sound Awareness for Everyone, a group of faculty, staff, and students whose mission is to promote healthy hearing for people of all ages via community outreach activities. Busho’s work in healthy hearing outreach is exemplified by publications, contributions to websites, and presentations at state and national conferences. At the state level, Busho serves as the vice president for public relations for the Iowa State Speech Language Hearing Association.
Steven Cable is a senior systems administrator at the UI Driving Safety Research Institute and National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS). Cable began his career at NADS 24 years ago as an undergraduate student and has held multiple roles since then, including computing and information technology, media development (brochures, posters), web development (NADS website), database development (proposal tracking, project tracking, publication tracking), and writing software for researchers that is used in both simulators and on-road vehicles. Cable is the data lead for a $7 million project called “Automated Driving Systems for Rural America,” funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. With his leadership and innovation, he has helped establish Iowa as a national leader among researchers exploring the challenges of operating an automated vehicle on rural roadways.
Sara J. Pinkham is the UI Libraries exhibitions and engagement coordinator, a position she has held since August 2019. Pinkham oversees operations and programming for the Main Library Gallery, an exhibition space that opened in 2016. Pinkham has taken the concept of artifact-based exhibition and transformed the gallery into an engaging teaching and research space for the campus and the wider community. Pinkham is an integral player in the UI campus group, GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums). Pinkham was recently accepted into the Open Palace Programme, a UK-based, hands-on immersive experience for professionals working with cultural heritage in an exhibition setting. Representing the UI internationally, Pinkham’s participation strengthens Iowa’s program, which strives to connect experiential learning with original artifacts and collection materials.
Cherie Hansen-Rieskamp is the academic coordinator for graduate programs in the Department of English. She goes above and beyond to make all graduate students in the English department feel welcome, seen, and heard. She is an advocate for the program, the faculty, and graduate students. She makes sure that the students’ accomplishments are acknowledged and celebrated. Hansen-Rieskamp uses her institutional knowledge to help new students navigate their roles on campus, within the community, and, for some international students, a new climate. She provides consistency and compassion crucial to successful graduate study in the English department.
Laura Kastens is the departmental administrator for the departments of American Studies; and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies; serving both departments since 2000. In smaller departments such as these, Kastens, as the only dedicated staff member, performs many tasks. She is an administrative leader who is committed to creating a caring, efficient, and equitable space. Her expertise is well-regarded and trusted by the jointly appointed faculty in both departments and the larger university community. She is committed to student success and well-being, and she has made a lasting impact on many students and faculty during her more than 20 years at Iowa.
Andrew Winkelmann is the director for educational programs in UI Student-Athlete Academic Services, where he has served in various capacities for more than 30 years. He has supported student-athletes in the Hawks to Professionals job shadowing program and the Hawkeye 5 volunteer incentive program. He has served the Iowa City community through his work as a state of Iowa certified violence prevention and intervention educator. His commitment to a safe, healthy, and inclusive campus can be seen through his work with the UI Cognitive Emotional Regulation Behavioral program and the UI Anti-violence Coalition.
Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award
Brian Farrell serves as the director for the Citizen Law Program, the associate director of the Center for Human Rights, and is an associate professor of instruction in the College of Law. Farrell is passionate about human rights and was a co-founder of the Innocence Project of Iowa. Through the UI College of Law’s Pro Bono Society, he helps law students help Iowans every year. He was instrumental in launching the spring 2022 webinar series on human rights and climate change, co-sponsored by the new Hubbell Environmental Law Initiative and Center for Human Rights.
Chris Traetow is the associate director of outreach and recruitment in the Office of Admissions. He is focused on helping prospective students feel connected and excited to be at the University of Iowa and is committed to making Iowa an accessible and inclusive environment for all. He promotes the university at Board of Regents, State of Iowa events and at conferences. He is involved in the Iowa Association for College Admission Counseling and recently served on the Rediscover Iowa’s Diverse Education committee.
Aloha Wilks is the program coordinator in the Department of Internal Medicine. Wilks was selected to join a UI Health Care task force charged with implementing strategies that would make meaningful and measurable differences in creating a sense of belonging for UI Health Care employees. Wilks also serves as the coordinator for the UI Equity in Health Science and Practice project, which promotes access to care for patients and communities around the state, including patients in rural areas, frontline workers, and groups that have been disengaged from academic health care systems before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has traveled throughout Iowa to host food distribution events, health fairs, and support communities in a hands-on way. Through her work, she has contributed to and promoted the health of all Iowans.
Kelby Scandrett serves as a nurse manager in the Department of Periodontics in the College of Dentistry. Scandrett is the principal trainer for CPR within the college and has successfully performed CPR on more than 700 Iowans. With his wealth of knowledge and experience, Scandrett is instrumental in leading educational programs to raise awareness of many public health risks. Additionally, he established a program for basic life support training and certification in the college. His leadership style has influenced other supervisors, and the concept of patient safety as a quality metric is being infused throughout the college.
Todd Rent serves as director of university employee and labor relations within University Human Resources. Rent is a strong leader and performer in labor and employee relations, making a difference in day-to-day operations of the university. He has co-led efforts to consolidate and update graduate assistant policies, standards, and practices, navigating complex collaborations with stakeholders through various approval levels. Rent worked to support other offices amid the rising strain of employee needs and requests from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he provides leadership and support to countless areas and offices across campus. Rent has a remarkable ability to find a path forward in the most difficult circumstances and excels in finding ways to both support the university’s mission and act in fairness for its employees.
Brandon Barquist serves as shop manager at IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering within the College of Engineering. In his role, he manages research and industry projects at 10 facilities on campus, around Iowa City, and at the Mississippi Riverside Environmental Research Station. Barquist can take someone’s ideas and turn them into reality, which is a crucial component to being able to lead in an innovative field of research. Barquist takes the lead in developing creative solutions that support IIHR research centers, including the Iowa Flood Center, Iowa Geological Survey, and Iowa Nutrient Research Center. Together, these centers provide critical science-based information to help Iowans address water resource concerns. In the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Barquist is sought out for his creative problem-solving abilities. He works behind the scenes to support students, staff, and faculty advisors to create the college’s homecoming corn monument.
Richard E. Gibson Merit Staff Award for Innovation and Excellence in Customer Service
Timothy Krabill has been a member of the State Hygienic Laboratory central services team for 29 years. His institutional knowledge and reliability have been essential in supporting the department through multiple transitions over the past few years. Krabill continuously goes above and beyond to support the department, accommodating the massive influx of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing his own contributions by working with Qualtrics and Iowa Prison Industries. He is a core member of the central service department and has greatly influenced his colleagues and the university.
Lyle Mahan is a custodian I for the Division of Student Life in Burge Residence Hall. Mahan has always taken pride in his work and treated everyone with respect while keeping a positive and friendly outlook. The students living in the residence halls frequently comment on his enthusiasm and diligence, and he never misses the opportunity to go out of his way for the students or the staff he works with. He contributes greatly to the positive community at Burge.
The Staff Award for Distinguished Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Susie Regan serves as the associate director of academic and leadership programs in the Pomerantz Career Center. Regan oversees the instruction and content for Career Leadership Academy and Introduction to Leadership, which enrolls hundreds of students annually. Additionally, she serves in multiple volunteer roles, including the center’s diversity, equity, and inclusion workgroup, the Anne Frank sapling project, and various Iowa Edge steering committees. Through taking on the Introduction to Leadership course this year, Regan led the transition and course revision with particular focus on inclusive leadership. The redesign offers students a way to explore the experiences and qualities of present-day leaders and social movements. Through her work with students as well as on the center’s DEI committee, Regan continuously finds ways to support inclusive leadership and development for students, staff, and faculty at Iowa.
Martha Kirby serves as a senior academic advisor in the Department of Political Science and is a key pre-law advising contact on campus. Kirby created the Law School Readiness Program (LSRP) to help underrepresented students learn more about the legal profession and improve outcomes for diverse populations in the school of law application process. Kirby is committed to assisting first generation and underrepresented students in their journey toward law school, building this program from the ground up. She garnered support for the initiative and created a program that launched this year. Her efforts in LSRP, as well as her constant advocacy, mentorship, and resource connection, showcase her commitment and dedication to mentoring and supporting diverse populations interested in law school.