Gary S. May recently presented Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Awards to 13 individuals and a team of 20, acknowledging the extraordinary work they do on behalf of their fellow staff members, faculty and students, and the public, including patients.
The individual award recipients, from the Davis and Sacramento campuses, cover a wide range of staff positions, from executive assistant and intellectual property officer, to program directors and administrative managers in academic and health units.
The award-winning team comprises academic advisors and student affairs advisors who lead an initiative whereby they assist their colleagues in “Developing Deeper Advising Relationships” within a student body that is expanding in number and diversity.
Nomination forms, submitted by the recipients’ colleagues, reference the recipients’ important contributions to the university and its mission, as well as their commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity — creating an environment, Chancellor May said, “that allows our colleagues and our students to flourish.”
The chancellor presented the awards during a reception at the Chancellor’s Residence.
‘Exemplifying our core values’
“The spirit of these awards speaks to me deeply on a personal and professional level,” May said. “I established the Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award to recognize staff who not only consistently go above and beyond their job responsibilities but also exemplify our core values as affirmed in our Principles of Community.”
He said a climate of dignity and respect nourishes our achievement and excellence and promotes constructive dialogue, and appreciation of our differences opens our minds to new and exciting ideas, friendships, collaborations and opportunities.
“Your university is a better place today because of your accomplishments, because of your hard work and because of your dedication to excellence,” the chancellor said.
Intellectual property officer
Innovation Access, Office of Research
Described as an effective witness who was key to a jury verdict in favor of the UC Davis strawberry breeding program, allowing it to retain access to germplasm and establishing precedent under which the university owns title to tangible material created in the course and scope of research.
He is noted for innovations such as a Nepal program that is held between quarters, allowing more students to participate, and for pioneering the development of domestic study abroad programs whereby students have opportunities to gain international experience in the states.
Chief administrative officer
Department of Radiation Oncology, School of Medicine, UC Davis Health
Praised for listening to staff, knowing their professional interests and being a mentor, she also receives kudos for her efforts to improve patient flow and other processes, and, ultimately, patient satisfaction. In her regular rounds of the clinic, she stops everything to ensure every child has a coloring book or toy.
Enrollment Management, Office of the Provost
Beyond her regular job, she is considered “one of the foremost champions of inclusive excellence at UC Davis,” through her work with the Staff Diversity Administrative Advisory Committee, Umoja, First-Year Aggie Connections, Guardian Scholars and other programs.
Lab research supervisor
California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory (Biotechnology and Virology)
She has devoted her UC Davis career to achieving diagnostic testing excellence — knowing that producers’ and families’ livelihoods depend on accurate results — while consistently inspiring teamwork and a strong culture of inclusion, respect, honesty and kindness to others at work.
Program coordinator and advisor
She’s led two First-Year Aggie Connections (and “jumped at the chance” to participate), and created and hosted two Spoken World Story Jams, promoting inclusiveness and a deep understanding and respect for the diversity of cultures, values and beliefs that make up our international university.
Web marketing, Graduate School of Management
“She masterfully orchestrated a content marketing symphony that helped drive social media engagement and web traffic to record levels,” said her nominator. The same passion and entrepreneurial, response, forward thinking that she brings to the GSM, also “enhance the brand of the entire institution.”
Autism education initiatives, Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, MIND Institute
She led the establishment of and continues to facilitate the California Autism Professional Training and Information Network, or CAPTAIN, now more than 400 members strong, with representatives from every county, to improve services to children and other youths with autism spectrum disorder.
Program coordinator and advisor
Study Abroad, Global Affairs
As the coordinator of a new program in Costa Rica, she came to the rescue: When an apartment needed cleaning, she did it; when a bug bite landed a student in the hospital, she stayed with her; and, most important from an academic perspective, when internships fell through, she quickly arranged new ones.
Ambulatory care administration, Department of Surgery, UC Davis Health
Lauded as an outstanding professional, mentor and colleague — but, most importantly, as an outstanding leader. In implementing change, she has managed to maintain the highest professionalism and composure and worked through each challenge as it arose with grace and dignity.
Writing Support Center, Academic Assistance and Tutoring Centers
Used to be students would grab any available nook or cranny to work on their writing while they waited to meet with tutors at the Writing Support Center. Then Sitz established the Writing Studio, affording students a dedicated and larger space to practice their writing while receiving support.
Student services manager
Office of Medical Education, UC Davis Health
Formerly the graduate coordinator in English and chair of Staff Assembly on the Davis campus, she showed a special commitment to food-insecure students, by rallying staff members to volunteer at The Pantry and launching the “Pay It Forward” campaign (providing pizza slices to students in need).
Chief administrative officer
Social Sciences Green Cluster, College of Letters and Science
Recognized as much for being an excellent manager with the ability to mediate among groups and interests, as for her work on behalf of diversity and inclusion throughout the university. Her efforts included organizing the “Muslim American Experience” Diversity Dialogue Series last year.
Developing Deeper Advising Relations
This team of facilitators presents a four-part workshop series, for other staff members who work directly with students, on social justice, self-awareness, cultural humility and communication.
Carolyn Thomas, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Education, joined Brett MacFarlane, executive director of academic advising in Undergraduate Education, in celebrating the Developing Deeper Advising Relationships Team at the awards reception.
“Advisors, with Brett’s support, wanted to create a better shared understanding of equity and inclusion, especially as it relates to our undergraduate students, across the advising community,” Thomas said in her prepared remarks.
More than 200 advisors have gone through the training, “walking away with a critical awareness of self, critical social constructs and cross-cultural competencies,” Thomas said.
“The self-reflection and critical awareness (that) participants learn in the curriculum — largely because of these facilitators — yields a greater capacity for us, as a whole community, to shift our campus climate toward inclusivity and equity. And this is already positively impacting students’ sense of belonging, resilience and ultimately persistence toward their desired degrees and post-graduation outcomes.”
Thomas noted that UC Davis’ Developing Deeper Advising Relationships program has become a model for other campuses across the country, citing as an example the number of people who clamored to learn about the program during a recent national meeting on advising.
The vice provost also said of the team: “They truly embody the spirit of the Principles of Community. They not only help us become the Aggie community we long to be, in word and in deed, they also facilitate training in a manner that allows for mutual understanding and respect for all participants.”
- Julie Agosto-King, director, Center for Opportunity Scholar Success,
- Office of Educational Opportunity and Enrichment Services
- Dionica Bell, student affairs officer, Department of African American and African Studies
- Josh Chave, conduct coordinator, Student Housing and Dining Services
- Ariel Collatz, undergraduate programs supervisor, Arts Group Advising Center
- Nancy Davis, academic advisor, undergraduate office, College of Engineering
- Brenna Dockter, assistant director, first-year academic advising, Undergraduate Education and Advising, College of Letters and Science
- Sarah Driver, graduate program coordinator, Department of Mathematics
- Leanna Friedrich, academic advisor, departments of Economics, History and East Asian Studies
- Anya Gibson, undergraduate programs supervisor, departments of East Asian Studies, Economics, History and Military Science; and Hemispheric Institute on the Americas and Jewish Studies Program
- Letia Graening, assistant director, international academic advising, Undergraduate Education and Advising, College of Letters and Science
- Michael Lemus, first-year coordinator, dean’s office, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
- Alma Martinez, academic counselor, Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies
- Julie McGilvray, academic advisor, Arts Group Advising Center
- Lina Mendez, associate director, Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success
- Krissy Ocampo, community advisor, Student Recruitment and Retention Center
- Katherine Parpana, academic advisor, dean’s office, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
- Eric Sanchez, diversity and inclusion educator and specialist, Office of Campus Community Relations
- Annalisa Teixeira, coordinator, success coaching and learning strategies, Office of Educational Opportunity and Enrichment Services
- Alyssa West, program coordinator, Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies
- Lauren Worrell, graduate program coordinator, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Parpana and Sanchez served as the team’s first co-chairs, 2015-17, while Graening and Worrell took on co-chair duties for 2017-19.