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University announces October 2015 employees of the month

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Name: Steve Allton

Title: Staff attorney, Legal Services for Students

What that means: Allton provides legal counsel, advice, and representation to University of Kansas student clients on a broad range of legal topics. He is responsible for a large caseload and represents students in consumer and landlord/tenant litigation. Allton makes court appearances, drafts court pleadings and settlements, and conducts negotiations with opposing counsel. He also develops and assists with legal educational programming for students and the University community.

Notable: LSS provides extensive support to students on filing taxes, and Allton was the lead grant-writer for the June 2014 Internal Revenue Service federal grant application. Allton had never written a grant before, and spent many hours researching and writing the proposal. The grant was awarded and LSS submitted for the grant again for 2015. Allton’s significant contribution through completing the grant proposal resulted in LSS receiving federal funds and meeting the grant goals of assisting more than 700 taxpayers in 2015.

As another example of his service to the student community, Allton is one of six members of the KU On-Call team. Team members are responsible for being "first responders" on a 24 hour/7 days a week basis. He is on call for nine weeks out of the year. These calls are for student emergencies such as fires, suicides, serious injury and death. Steve has kept a level head and been responsible for contacting parents in the middle of the night when a KU student was seriously injured. He will go to the scene of a fire or go to the hospital when necessary.

While Allton has been at LSS, he has completed his Master's in Public Administration at KU, has graduated from the KU Emerging Leaders Academy and was selected for the Provost's Staff Fellows. He was recently listed as one of 15 men in the KU Men of Merit 2015 group.

Allton supervises and mentors law student legal interns. He has been described as challenging and thoughtful as a mentor. He is an ideal role model as a KU graduate and as a lawyer, always conveying the importance of making ethical choices when representing a client’s interests.


Randi Hacker

Title: Outreach director for the Center for East Asian Studies

What that means: Hacker is not only the face of East Asian Studies to schoolchildren, teachers and community members in Lawrence and Northeast Kansas, she has also been the voice of East Asian Studies, as heard in the KPR radio spot “Postcards from Asia” for many years.

Notable: In 2014, Hacker adapted the long radio spot, broadcasted weekly to as many as 70,000 listeners across the region, to include other regions. To this end, she has worked closely with staff from KU’s other area studies centers to help them identify and write about international subject matter for the program. She also writes newsletters and press releases, communicates with a wide range of educators and community members, and serves as a liaison between the community and the university’s East Asian Faculty. She makes regular trips to present material on East Asia to K-12 classrooms, Girl Scout troupes, and other community groups and organizes and participates in a range of different kinds of events that promote knowledge about East Asia.

Some things about Hacker’s position are regular and constant. Any given week she will be asked to visit classrooms to teach about East Asia, every month she will need to write several newsletters for educators, and record several episodes of Postcards from Abroad.  There are also many things about Hacker’s job that are completely unpredictable. Hacker’s enthusiasm for taking on the unpredictable is what makes Hacker truly stand out. She is exceptionally creative and imaginative, sees possibility in everything and is always willing and eager to find ways to meet challenges and push beyond conventional boundaries.

A recent example of her creativity was the Center for East Asian Studies’ collaboration with the Confucius Institute, the School of Music, the Jewish Studies Program and the Jewish Community Center on an exhibit and program on the Shanghai Jewish Ghetto that was held at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park. Hacker worked with her co-organizers over the summer of 2014 to imagine and then organize a program on the cultural life of the Shanghai Ghetto that included musical performances and scholarly and personal narratives that revealed what life was like for European Jews who became refugees in Shanghai during World War II. 

Another example of an innovative program that Hacker and a colleague developed was a partnership with the Merc and West Middle School. Hacker offered to teach a class at the Merc on how to make Asian dumplings, then churned the proceeds back into the Merc’s community garden program with West Middle School. The partnership has expanded to include the seed bank at the Lawrence Public Library and the garden at Liberty Memorial Middle School. Through this innovative program, Hacker and CEAS are reaching various constituencies in new and creative ways, helping to educate people about East Asian botany, agriculture and cuisine.

Teachers and community members are anxious to report how great Hacker is and how much they enjoy working with her, and kids with whom she has worked light up when they see her, often running up to her in the grocery store to practice their Chinese. She has defined her role for the center, and it is evident through her positive and energetic attitude towards it that she loves her job and does it with excellence.