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Employee Recognition Ceremony announces KU Employee and Team of the Year winners

Thursday, May 16, 2019

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas recently recognized two individuals as Employees of the Year and presented the Team of the Year Award. Chancellor Douglas A. Girod and Interim Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Carl Lejuez also helped honor employees with five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of service.

Employees of the Year are selected from the Employee of the Month award winners over the past 12 months. KU recognizes two individuals each month. This year’s monthly honorees:

April 2018: Regina Casto and Saokham Syvongsay

May 2018: Beth Kelley and Sean Hadley

June 2018: Mary Olson and Catherine Johnson

July 2018: Laura Diede and Sharon Riley

August 2018: Jessica Chilcoat and Patricia Wiggins

September 2018: Thomas Shorock and Keah Cunningham

October 2018: Laura Gagliano and Rita Riley

November 2018: Pam LeRow and Doug Rendall

December 2018: Jessica Black-Magnussen and Frances Lyons

January 2019: Aleksandr Novosel’tsev and Rose Broers

February 2019: Kari Balthazor and Larry Laubhan

March 2019: Josh Jones and Patricia Coombs.


2019 Staff Employee of the Year Winners

Beth Kelley, center, receives one of the 2019 Employee of the Year Awards.Beth Kelley

To best describe the influence of Beth Kelley, administrative associate in the University Honors Program, one only needs to talk with the students she supports. Here’s a sample of what students have said in support of her nomination.

  • “She cares deeply for honors students, and this shows in the way she treats us. She makes students feel welcomed, supported and valued through her unfailing positivity and enthusiasm.”
  • “She makes KU feel like a home for honors students. I lived in Templin my freshman year and would stop by Nunemaker each afternoon to 'study,' but mostly I wanted to talk with her. Homesick and overwhelmed, those chats in the front office kept me afloat. Schools as big as KU can seem impersonal and scary, but having a friendly face in her made KU feel like a home.”
  • “She told me that if I ever needed anything that I just needed to let her know. When she said anything, she meant anything. She told me that if I ever needed help getting anything from my laundry cleaned to food on the table, she would be there and ready for me at any time. The best part is that I am not an exception: She treats every one of her students with the same love, compassion and care. Whether it is her first time talking to a student or her 500th, she welcomes them with arms wide open and does whatever she can to help.”
  • “As a brand new freshman in a different state, her intentionality in improving my day as I transitioned into being a college student made a huge difference.”

Kelley's colleagues noted that she is one of the kindest and dedicated employees at KU. Her boundless generosity inspires others. 

Doug Rendall

Doug Rendall, center, receives one of the 2019 Employee of the Year Awards

The Lied Center is a catalyst for the arts, creativity and community engagement, presenting a series of diverse performances. In preparation for each amazing show put on by the Lied Center, from lectures to Broadway tours, Doug Rendall is in the background completing an array of necessary tasks to ensure not only an excellent show, but a clean, comfortable, accessible, welcoming space for attendees.

Rendall is the custodial supervisor for the Lied Center, and in that role he manages the custodial staff and makes sure the facility is always clean and ready for the next event. As a leader, he knows his staff and is able to assign projects to best fit their strengths. As the supervisor, he has the option to simply do paperwork in his office and leave active custodial work to his team, but he can often be seen pitching in to wield a mop, locate broken seats in the auditorium and assist visitors.

Rendall knows so much about the inner workings of the Lied Center that he instantly knows when a minor failure in one system may cause a chain reaction resulting in a major failure in another system. He spots trouble early and takes steps to fix things before they cause problems. Many times he works “behind the scenes” with fixes and averts crises without anyone knowing what he just prevented.

Rendall also has offered an enduring legacy at KU. He volunteered to create a garden in front of the Lied Center in preparation for the dedication of the commissioned sculpture commemorating the center’s 25th anniversary. He transformed the large 15-foot-by-45-foot patch of grass in the middle of the circle drive to a showcase garden of over 600 drought-tolerant native plants that also attract monarch butterflies. It was Rendall’s initiative to craft the garden design, obtain the plants — many from his home garden — prepare the soil, plant the flowers and keep them healthy through the dry, hot Kansas summer.

2019 Team of the Year Award Winner

The KU Indigenous Cultures Festival and First Nations Student Association Powwow Team was selected as the KU Team of the Year for 2019KU FNSA Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival 

The work of the 2019 team of the year culminated in the annual KU First Nations Student Association Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival at the Lied Center on April 6. Several events in March led up to the April festival, including lectures and talks with visiting artists, a visit from an indigenous hip-hop artist and art receptions

The events featured the Powwow Grand Entry, competitive dancing, educational workshops and sessions, indigenous art and films, and children’s programs focused on indigenous cultures and history. Regional indigenous artists and artisans had items for sale, and indigenous food was available for purchase throughout the day. There also was an event hosted by undergraduate and graduate students called “Identity by Designs” where indigenous students from Haskell Indian Nations University and KU shared their traditional clothing and regalia through a fashion-type event.

Another special aspect of the KU FNSA Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival this year was the construction of a grass dwelling that was built outside the Lied Center. The dwelling was made of local grasses, such as switchgrass and bluestem grass, as well as materials from cedar, juniper and willow trees. Volunteers from KU, Haskell and local Boy Scout troops helped with the construction of the grass house in the days leading up to the powwow.

Due to the work of the KU FNSA Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival team and their many partners across campus, the annual festival has flourished. Some team members excelled at making connections with Native individuals, tribes and groups, which advanced fundraising efforts and helped identify potential speakers, workshop leaders and powwow personnel. Other team members were involved with organizing and hosting educational components of the project – bringing diverse audiences to the event. Another group of the team was well-versed in powwow culture and etiquette and assisted with the financial and logistical demands of organizing and hosting a powwow.

The KU Powwow & Indigenous Cultures Festival was a tremendous success. This annual event has positioned the university as an important hub for learning and engagement not only for KU students, faculty and staff, but also for members of the Lawrence and surrounding communities. The event provided the community an opportunity to participate, share experiences, make connections, and learn more about the traditions, culture, history, and contemporary topics relating to indigenous people of North America. The work of this team made this experience possible for so many community members.

The members of the team are Matt Gillispie, Casey Mesick Braun, Jancita Warrington, Emily Gullickson, Melissa Peterson, Brandy Ernzen, Derek Kwan, Joshua Falleaf, Joshua Miner, Jalen Rowe and Anthea Scouffas.

The Team of the Year winner is selected from among nominations solicited each spring across campus. In addition to the KU Indigenous Cultures Festival & FNSA Powwow team, other groups nominated:

  • Data Access and Support Center: Next Generation 911 Geographic Information Systems, team members Ken Nelson, Eileen Battles, Kelly Emmons, Asif Iqbal, Kristen Jordan Koenig, Brent Miller and Shaw Saving.
  • Dimensions Team: Expanding Infrastructure for Environmental Research, team members Bruce Johanning, Sheena Parsons, Vaughn Salisbury, Kristen Mecke and Kelly Nelson
  • Hall Center for the Humanities: team members Sarah Bishop, Dan Consolver, Andrew Hodgson, Eliott Reeder, Beth McSweeney, Kathy Porsch, Ashley Carlson and Brett Bias
  • Moving Team: team members Laura Sellers, Jefferson Allen, Tyler Brown, Michael Coleman, Trevor Ross and Matthew Yates.