Staff Council

2018 Making a Difference Award Recipients

Above and Beyond Award

Allison Hein, Research Engineer and Scientist, Materials Science and Engineering

Her nominator says that Allison’s competence and effectiveness is revealed by the inarguable impact that it has had on the productivity of the MSE department and its faculty.  Since transitioning into the department in 2008 the number of external research proposals submitted has increased from 27 in 2008 to levels that average approximately 67 over the last four fiscal years; an increase of 150% during this time.   The yearly external research expenditures over this same period have increased from approximately $.74 million in 2008 to levels regularly in the $2 per year range now; an increase of over 180%.  While she will be the first to suggest that her role is secondary, it is our contention that her unique skill set has facilitated this era of high efficiency, effectiveness and success among our faculty.

A letter of support states “In our roles we work with researchers from across campus.  When a large of complicated project is initiated, one of the things we regularly hear is “how can we involve Allison in this project?  Researchers even outside her department routinely ask for her help, even offering to pay a portion of her salary to allow her participation in a project.  On more than one occasion, one of us has worked with her late into the night to assure a project deadline is met.  When this happens Allison never asks for thanks or the spotlight, she just gets up the next morning and does it all again.”

Behind the Scenes

Jerry Norkol, Master Machinist, Chemical Engineering

As one letter of support states “Jerry has always been available to help with various tasks I need one in my lab or office, most things you would never notice.  Whether it is helping hang things on the concrete walls, installing a rug, assembling furniture, installing laboratory equipment, making modifications to equipment and materials that accommodate my experiments, ordering parts or finding gas regulators Jerry is efficient and helpful.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve asked Jerry for help with something expecting him to get to it in the next few weeks and I come in the next morning to find it already finished.”

Another said “I quickly realized that Jerry was going to be my most important asset when I started my position in Chemical Engineering.  Prior to being hired Jerry worked to fill my current position for nine months in addition to all of his regular duties, he was instrumental in bringing me up to speed quickly and efficiently when I arrived.  Jerry always offers his help to anyone and everyone with a smile, it could be as simple as fixing a coffee pot in the office, duct taping a vendors flapping boot, to advanced building of complex equipment for the large funded research projects for our faculty."

The Legacy Award

Peggy Gorton, Executive Assistant, School of Technology

Peggy’s nomination letter states “Peggy has managed numerous transitions and changes within the School of Technology.  For example, during her time as Executive Assistant, she organized and completed the binder and related paperwork for each of the programs within the school that transitioned from two year degrees to four year degrees.  She also facilitated the transition to semesters in 2000, three ABET accreditation rounds (six year cycles), and the addition of two Master Degree Programs.  Each of these activities has left a legacy for students, faculty, and alums.  Her role was significant because she has served as the primary point of contact for the curriculum binder process throughout all these changes.”

Peggy has built a legacy within the University, the School of Technology, and Geological and Mining Engineering and Science over her 40 plus years of service.  During alumni weekend this last August, an alum returning to GMES exerted considerable effort to track down Peggy because she had been such a positive and encouraging force for him to complete his degree.  She’s helped students find places to live and provided lunches and snacks out of her own pocket to help a student not have to go hungry.

Outstanding Supervisor

Brent Burns, Director of Federal and Industry Relations – VP for Research Office

Brent’s nominator says that Brent does not command or micromanage the team.  Brent truly leads the team and welcomes all feedback and new ideas.  Common phrases heard in our team meeting are “what do you think? Can we do that?  What do you need from us?  I have many times been assigned a task and given free rein to approach it as I see fit.  At the same time he is prepared to attend to any minor detail when necessary.  If I’ve run into trouble or confusion Brent has always been open to listening to me describe the problem and helping to pick it apart as much as necessary to solve the issue.

A letter of support states that “For the past three years Brent has been my supervisor.  Throughout that time, I have appreciated Brent’s practical approach to allowing for flexibility in achieving tasks.  Brent provides challenging goals and suggestions for moving these projects forward, but doesn’t micromanage the details.  Brent encourages professional development by allowing for time to participate in societies and organizations that help grow my individual skills.”

Rookie Award

Brent Kari, Central Receiving Manager, Facilities

Brent’s nominator states “An area where Brent has shined over the past year was during Career Fair which is one of the busiest times in Central Receiving as we receive all of the company displays and materials for the event.  These materials then have to be documented into a spreadsheet, sorted and brought up to a storage area at the SDC.  Brent was running non-stop during this time as there were 201 packages that were delivered specifically for Career Fair within a couple day period that needed action immediately.  Brent was at work early, staying late, and fielding constant calls, text messages and emails all while keeping his typical positive attitude.  There were not any late or missing packages for Career Fair due to Brent’s hard work and good communication skills with Career Services.  Brent also helped make the event safer as he assisted in getting steps for accessing the package storage trailer that provided a wide and stable footing.  In previous years, there had been stairs that did not match the trailer height and were dangerous when carrying heavy boxes or when they were snow covered or wet.”

Brent also made the campus package delivery route more efficient and implemented a new inventory system for different areas in the facilities department.  As a letter of support states “Brent is personable, knowledgeable, and provides high quality customer service. Whether he’s helping to coordinate a freight shipment for a senior design team or inventorying several hundred packages for companies attending Career Fair, he’s performing at a high level.”

Serving Others

Alisha Kocjan, Curriculum Services Support Coordinator, Registrar’s Office

Alisha’s nominator state “Alisha consistently volunteers her time to help others- both as an official volunteer and unofficial volunteer.  For example, she has participated as a Summer Reading Facilitator for first year students the past two years, she was a LeaderShape Cluster facilitator in January 2018 (the students from her group still keep in touch with her).  She has been part of the Food Insecurities Committee since the programs inceptions.  She also volunteered her time as a mock interview for Career Services.  Outside of her role at Michigan Tech, Alisha serves in many volunteer roles in the community.  She was involved in the Keweenaw Young Professionals for a number of years.  She currently serves on the Torch Lake Federal Credit Union Board and the Main Street Calumet Board.  She volunteered her time assisting in the Father’s Day flood clean up.  She is always willing to lend a helping hand without a need for recognition, so I am certain there are countless additional volunteer efforts I am not aware of.

A support letter from a colleague states “As an academic advisor, Alisha provides great service in her assistance regarding degree services, and in particular the still new online curriculum change portlet.  Alisha’s daily demeanor and customer service skills are excellent.  She is a pleasure to work with, takes our concerns seriously, and is detail oriented to make sure that action items don’t fall through the cracks.”

Unsung Hero

William Corrigan, Dining Services AND Julie Ross, Civil & Environmental Engineering

William Corrigan, Manager, Dining Services

Bill’s nominator states “I like to consider Bill and myself the babysitters of the Memorial Union Building.  This is because for every event, to give you an idea we average around 10 events every day, both small and large, full china and disposable, we have to make sure that the delivery person is getting orders correct and on time, that the cooks are running on schedule and if they are behind Bill is the first person to step in and help where it is needed.  He does not cause a ruckus when he has to do this, matter of face, he never causes a ruckus eve in the busiest times of the year when we are averaging 25 events every day.  During these last eight weeks he worked six or seven days a week and upwards of 13 to 14 hours every day because he cares about the success of Michigan Tech catering and Dining Services.”

A student employee of Bill’s said “After every event Bill personally greets and thanks all of the workers for coming to the shift.  He knows all his employees by name and makes you feel welcome every time you work.  When there are scheduling problems with employees he is understanding about student schedules and often stresses how important our classes are.  He genuinely wants to see his employees succeed even if it will eventually take us out of MTU Catering.  In the many jobs that I have had across several industries, I have enjoyed working at MTU catering the most and Bill Corrigan is the best boss I have ever had.”

Julie Ross, Academic Advisor, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Julie’s nominator states “When the faculty member who established the CEE Student Success Center left the University Julie picked up the role of advisor for this group because she knew the services provided by the student success coaches were essential to the Department’s teaching mission.  Without her stepping up and taking the advisor reigns this group would not exist today.  Julie’s greatest satisfaction is providing quality academic advising services and supporting her students in the manner in which she believe she was supported when she was a student.  This last summer we learned one of our students was expecting her first child and would be working on a degree as a single, working mom.  Julie regularly checking in on the student to see how her pregnancy and summer coursework were going.  After the baby arrived, Julie picked up a Walmart gift card to help this new mother provide for her baby.”

A letter of support states “Julie is extremely quiet, which means that there is no fanfare about her accomplishments.  Most CEE faculty realize that Julie is a significant contributor to holding together the undergraduate programs in the Departments, but have no idea what and how much she does in that regard.  I know how much she contributes.  I know that she takes on a number of jobs that she might not have had to and quietly completes them.  In many cases I am the only one who knows that she did the job.  When the department went through the ABET review Julie quietly edited some sections of the self-study report, which helped the team writing the report.  In some cases she didn’t want me to tell the rest of the team that she had fixed them.  My opinion is that she should take more credit for what she does, but that is not her way.