2021 Making a Difference Award Recipients

Above and Beyond Award

Christina Lehmann, Director of Human Research Protection Programs, Associate VP for Research Development

Her nominator says that “As her supervisor, I can speak to her performance on all of these dimensions, but I particularly want to note that she always exceeds expectations. She is never content to share "first draft" communications or policies with our researchers. She polishes everything, often including high quality graphic components she creates herself, and ensures that the researchers that she serves have the clearest and most engaging communications possible from her office. This is all while doing a job that nearly three people used to do.”

Behind the Scenes

Debra Linn, Office Manager (Administrative Aide 8), Career Services

Her nominator says that “After Debbie onboarded to the Career Services team, she was instrumental in working with the International Program Services office to implement a new process thereby allowing faster, more reliable service for co-op students. In addition to assisting students with the co-op program, she also ensures students with appointments are promptly introduced to the correct Career Advisor or corporate recruiter they’re scheduled to work with. What’s more, she also assists walk-in students who meet with the Career Services Learning Center. The Career Services staff can’t say enough about Debbie. Says Manager of Corporate Relations Adam Griffis, “I don’t have to teach her to do anything. She just does it.” Coordinator of Event Planning Jodi Miller adds, “I can trust Debbie. She’s incredibly reliable.”

The Legacy Award

Debra Charlesworth, Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, Graduate School

Her nominator says that “Deb is always thinking about how to make the processes related to degree completion more efficient.  Deb voluntarily went through the Kaizen continuous improvement training to become a Lean facilitator.  She consistently applies Lean practices to everything she does, and encourages everyone to do the same. Through her leadership and skills, most aspects of the Grad School academic processes are significantly improved from where they were. Deb designed an updated, streamlined process for reviewing student submitted theses/dissertations/reports. It went from a page number/manual margin checking (with a ruler!) process to a more comprehensive digital formatting review. The resulting documents are much more professional looking. As these are available online, this results in an improved image for Michigan Tech.”

Outstanding Leader

Renee Ozanich, Manager, Academic Employment, Human Resources

A letter of support states “Renee is my supervisor, and I am lucky to work for her. Working directly with her every day means I have an inside view of how well she communicates with all the people across campus as well as internally in Human Resources to facilitate the many facets of academic employment. She not only sets an example, she is the example. Beyond her own expertise, she will also take calls for other employment representatives if they are not available. She is always willing to help, listens to understand the issues, works diligently to meet deadlines and keep processes moving, and makes sure things are done correctly. This is very motivating for others to do their best. Besides that, she is very pleasant to work with. Everyone knows Renee's laugh. It is contagious. You can't help but enjoy talking with her.”

Rookie Award

Christopher Sanders, Multicultural Student Success Coordinator, Center for Diversity and Inclusion                                                                                                                                          

A letter of support states “Christopher has been at Michigan Tech for less than a year, but his impact has already been felt far and wide across campus and he is a vital part of the Michigan Tech family. One of the first major initiatives Christopher had to take the lead on was the MiCUP Scholars Program, which he came into without much background or information. Christopher quickly made this program his own and clearly became a leader, mentor, and caring figure for all the students within this program. I had the opportunity to speak with the students of this program a couple times, and each time it was abundantly clear how much admiration and love they had for Christopher. And, it was easy to feel Christopher’s passion radiating – anyone near can tell how much he cares and gives his all.

Serving Others

David Dixon, Director of Biological Laboratory Operations, Associate VP for Research Development

A letter of support states “David’s vocabulary rarely includes the word “no.” Whether it's helping a researcher jump  through the regulatory hoops to use radioactive materials, outlining the requirements to safely  use infectious materials, or reviewing a research protocol, David rarely says “no.” There might  be regulations that need to be followed, the researcher might have to change their protocol to  meet some restriction placed on the research, or there may need to be additional hazard  mitigation strategies imposed, but David jumps in with both feet to help make it happen. David shows support for his colleagues, helping out when the need arises. When the Animal Facility director and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee director was on leave, David stepped up to cover. When someone from the laboratory operations team goes on vacation they leave with the confidence that David will deal with the inevitable problem that just happens to come up when everyone else is out of the office.”

Unsung Hero

Paige Hackney, Assistant to the Associate Provost and Budget Manager, Pavlis Hanors College

Her nominator says that “To describe Paige as a positive and steady presence is an understatement. I have been blessed with receiving a bright and cheery “good morning” from Paige almost every day for the past 14 years we’ve worked together.  Paige’s warm greeting, and my morning coffee, together help to start my workday on a positive note! Paige is very personable and easy to work with; she has developed positive relationships with many departmental coordinators and staff, college administrators, accounting, human resources, and faculty advisors engaged in Pavlis Honors College programs. Over the years, Paige has developed an extensive campus network and is sought out for her competence and knowledge of University systems and processes; she is the “go-to” resource for getting things done, getting them done accurately, and getting them done with a smile!”