Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Eighteen UI staff members were honored with this year’s UI Staff Council Awards for achievements ranging from excellence in service to accomplishments that significantly benefited the university. Read more about each award and this year’s winners. 

Board of Regents Staff Excellence Award

This award recognizes staff members in conjunction with colleagues from Iowa’s other state 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.

Cari Anderson

Cari Anderson is the College of Dentistry’s director of dental counseling and wellness support services and University Counseling Service’s assistant director. Her advocacy for reduction of mental health stigma and suicide prevention within the dental field have extended beyond the university. She has joined initiatives with the Iowa Dental Association and Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation’s Mental Health Task Force. She developed a Student Advisory Board to advocate for student success and mental and physical well-being and implemented suicide prevention curriculum at the College of Dentistry focused on how to be an ally to those struggling with suicide ideation and how to intervene effectively.


Cheri Doggett

Cheri Doggett is the academic program management specialist for the Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program in the College of Nursing. She has been instrumental in establishing the infrastructure to recruit and enroll RNs into the program, and 12 of the 15 Iowa community colleges have established 3+1 agreements with the College of Nursing with Doggett’s support. Doggett has been tireless in establishing student connections, traveling more than 12,000 miles in 2023 to recruit future Iowa nurses. Her leadership with all facets of the RN-BSN program has increased the number of bachelor-trained nurses in the state.



Eli Hotchkin

Eli Hotchkin serves as the director of Iowa’s Threat Assessment Team. Hotchkin’s model for success includes building relationships and partnerships across the university community, which has led to particularly strong relationships in the Campus Threat Awareness Roundtable and Threat Assessment Advisory Group. Hotchkin’s vision of continuous improvement includes developing innovative software in conjunction with Information Technology Services, aligning the team with professional standards as they evolve, and updating policies and procedures on a regular basis to reflect the needs of the community. Hotchkin also is recognized as an expert and a leader in threat assessment beyond the university.


Amy Margolis

Amy Margolis serves as the director of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, which she has been involved with since 1990. The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is an unmatched, non-credit-bearing creative writing program that has brought writers of all ages from all 50 states and around the world to the Iowa campus. Margolis has cultivated this community of thousands and set its tone, letting the world know that writing at Iowa is warm and welcoming. Margolis also found ways for the festival to flourish in challenging times, transitioning the program online during the COVID-19 pandemic and successfully welcoming more than 400 writers to campus in-person last year.


Heather Mineart

Heather R. Mineart serves as the departmental administrator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She has served on several university and collegiate committees/councils, including as president of Staff Council, on the Strategic Plan Faculty and Staff Success Development Team, and various leadership searches. Mineart oversees complex budgets and building renovations; facilitates interactions between staff, facilities, external subcontractors, and outside clients; and has been essential in the execution of the $162.5 million TRACERS Small Mission Explorer grant through NASA.



Julie Nealson

Julie Nealson is an academic clinical program management associate and assistant to the chair in the Carver College of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. She provides administrative assistance for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Microbiology at the Host-Pathogen Interface program, a summer research program that brings 10 mostly underrepresented undergraduates from across the country to campus. She has advised many other departments and units seeking to offer similar summer experiences.


University of Iowa Outstanding Staff Award

This award recognizes staff who have made outstanding accomplishments and contributions that significantly benefited or brought honor or recognition to the university. Contributions must extend beyond those normally expected or required by job responsibilities.

Kate Allen

Kate Allen serves as an instructional service specialist for the photography and 3D design areas in the School of Art and Art History. She plays a crucial part in addressing the technological needs of students, such as dedicating time to mastering tools for the 3D Design discipline and restructuring the 3D Design BFA studio. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Allen collaborated with faculty to revamp the online photography curriculum to ensure students continued to receive a meaningful educational experience and were able to fulfill requirements without lab access. Allen also assumed a leadership role in a school-wide DEI committee, ensuring that the voices of all staff members are heard and represented.


Mark Archibald

Mark Archibald is a records, enrollment, and analytics specialist for the Honors at Iowa program. He oversees student records, tracks student progress through program requirements, and works with campus partners to identify course and experiential learning opportunities for honors students. This year, Archibald was instrumental in planning, executing, implementing, and growing the Tippie Gateway Summer Program for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds in business. In addition to coordinating the program, he recruited and trained student mentors, recruited student participants, provided one-on-one guidance for participant alumni in their college searches, and worked directly with donors to raise 100% of the program costs.


Kalia Brustkern

Kaila Brustkern is a research assistant in the Microvascular Physiology Lab in the Department of Health and Human Physiology. Brustkern is responsible for maintaining laboratory compliances; recruiting, screening, and scheduling human research participants; and assisting with data collection and maintaining research data integrity. She has been an integral part of the lab’s success by assisting with the successful completion of three internal research grants, the publication of four high-impact, peer-reviewed research papers, and the acquisition of three competitive extramural research grants. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the outstanding support that Brustkern provided from start to finish of each of these endeavors. 


George crull

George Crull is the staff scientist and assistant director of the Department of Chemistry’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Center. He is also a member of the Research and Scientific Services function group, where he has contributed extensively to Iowa’s mission of research and education. In his position, Crull interacts with many academic and research units at Iowa and the community, including commercial enterprises. He has made extraordinary contributions to the maintenance of NMR instruments on campus and to the use of NMR instrumentation by many students and postdocs in laboratory research. Crull serves on several committees, including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Staff Council and a departmental safety committee.


Richard Dvorsky

Richard Dvorsky is an aerospace principal engineer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He has made significant contributions to numerous high-profile space-flight projects, including NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission and the NASA Magnetosphere Multi-Scale mission. Dvorsky serves as an engineer on the TRACERS mission, where he is responsible for planning, monitoring, coordinating, and delivering the technical aspects of the entire mission. He leads the technical design, testing, verification, risk management, requirements analysis, synthesis, and concept operations of the mission. He is now one of the primary liaisons between TRACERS and customers at NASA.


Rebecca Schwertfeger

Rebecca Schwertfeger is the senior director of talent acquisition in the Department of Health and Human Resources at UI Health Care. She has molded nursing recruitment into a highly efficient group and has doubled the department in size, as well as led the team through some of the hardest years in health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to nursing recruitment and talent acquisition, Schwertfeger has played a pivotal role in the UI Health Care Downtown integration, quickly partnering with the academic side of campus and the new downtown HR team to begin establishing processes to best serve the new employees. She took the time out of her workday to go to the downtown campus and assist new employees one-on-one, ensuring a smooth transition to UI Health Care and providing a calm voice to many during the change.

David J. Skorton Award for Staff Excellence in Service 

This award 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 duties.

Tiffani Stevenson-Earl

Tiffini Stevenson Earl is the director of equity investigations and ADA coordinator for the Office of Institutional Equity. She has been conducting complaint investigations and designing and delivering educational programs since 2005 and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance since 2008. Stevenson Earl enthusiastically embraces the responsibility of coordinating the Iowa Board of Regents’ Disability Summit when it occurs on the UI campus. She has also participated over the years with the city of Iowa City when it hosts the annual celebration of the enactment of the ADA. Her dedication to Iowa and her impassioned work to support all faculty, staff, and students to achieve their academic and professional goals is an inspiration. 


Paul Thelen

Paul Thelen is the director of the Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resources Center and adjunct faculty member at the UI College of Law. His primary focus is building the leadership, governance, and management capacities of individuals, organizations, and networks across the state. Thelen has designed and delivered hundreds of workshops, conference sessions, and additional programs for nonprofit board members, executive staff, and professionals. He has also served on the conference planning committee for the Iowa Nonprofit Summit since 2015. In 2020, Thelen created and led the center’s Summer Research Associate Program, which has attracted top undergraduate students from across the university. He is co-founder and current vice president of the Iowa Nonprofit Alliance—Iowa’s first statewide nonprofit membership association. He serves on the advisory board for Iowa’s Master of Public Affairs program and is a member of the Iowa Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Richard E. Gibson Merit Staff Award for Innovation and Excellence in Customer Service

This award recognizes an employee’s outstanding creativity and innovation in process improvement or exceptional achievement in providing customer service. Accomplishments must be outside the employee’s normal job responsibilities or must go above and beyond a position’s standard requirements.

Patricia Baird

Patricia (Pat) Baird is a library assistant IV, processing thousands of patrons’ requests each year. She has taken a leadership role representing the UI Libraries in the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) and has led the implementation of two major projects: interlibrary loan cost calculator and OCLC Resource Sharing for Groups. While the results of the interlibrary loan cost calculator project are still in process, having this cost information specific to Iowa’s operations will be an enormous benefit. OCLC’s Resource Sharing for Groups will allow all BTAA libraries to efficiently share their collections. This automation of service benefits researchers, instructors, and students on campus.


Mary Sleichter

Mary Sleichter is a member of the College of Law’s faculty support team. For more than 40 years, Sleichter supported numerous faculty, including the late Sandy Boyd. She has always gone above and beyond her regular duties to keep the faculty’s important work and research moving smoothly. She consistently exhibits proactive problem-solving and an unwavering positive demeanor. During these four decades, she has earned the trust, appreciation, and affection of the entire law community.



Staff Award for Distinguished Leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This award 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.

Collins Byrd

Collins Byrd serves as the assistant dean for enrollment management at the College of Law. He has served in law school admissions capacities since 1990 at several universities, as well as positions for admissions in graduate and undergraduate institutions. Byrd has maintained and strengthened the educational benefits of diversity in legal education for more than 30 years, including work as a member of various Law School Admission Council committees and as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Law School Admission Council. He is motivated in part by his own experiences of having integrated a school system in the South in the 1960s and a private school in Connecticut in the 1970s.


Brad Ferrier

Brad Ferrier is the digital projects librarian at UI Libraries, Special Collections and Archives. His daily work responsibilities include captioning and transcribing audio-visual collections, as well as processing born-digital materials, such as websites, emails, digital photos, and electronic records. In these duties, Ferrier makes collection materials accessible for all patrons on campus, regardless of disability status and how an individual needs to or chooses to interact with them. He is a long-standing member of the Council on Disability Awareness and has served as the council’s treasurer. Ferrier regularly speaks about disability and accessibility issues.