The Distinguished Staff Awards, the university’s highest staff recognition, annually honors 12 staff members for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments and service to The Ohio State University.
Office Manager, Fiscal Officer
Department of Statistics
People who know Paul Brower say his personality stands out as he performs the often complicated and frustrating tasks assigned to the office manager and fiscal officer for the Department of Statistics.
From the time of his hiring, Brower completely transformed the department by hiring more faculty and staff and increasing the size of the graduate program and research grant and contract expenditures. According to a nominator, Brower approaches these difficult tasks with patience, humor and extraordinary organizational skills. “His dedication to the department and his work ethic are synonymous with the now smooth operation of everything that we do,” wrote a colleague.
Brower also is tirelessly committed to improving the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole and the Division of Natural and Mathematical Sciences in particular. He sits on the College of Arts and Sciences Business Redesign Steering Committee, through which he has contributed his advice during the restructuring of the former Arts and Sciences Federation.
Finally, as an Ohio State staff member, Brower dedicates much of his attention to improving the work environment of his colleagues. He has been an active participant on the College of the Arts and Sciences Staff Advisory Committee and was one of the founders of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Staff Advisory Committee, both of which deal with improving staff productivity and job satisfaction.
“Paul is a tireless advocate for staff. He continually reminds us of the need to communicate clearly and often, to provide opportunities for staff to participate in the development of new processes and policies and to provide developmental opportunities to give staff the chance to move up and gain new skills and experiences.”
Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing
Doug Dangler combines his passion for writing and his passion for technology to enhance the university. As associate director of the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing, Dangler has “developed new and innovative ways to promote the study and teaching of writing to the university.”
Dangler has led efforts to improve both the facilities and funding of the Writing Center. He also is the center’s digital specialist, a position he utilizes to make the CSTW a media-rich program. “Doug has demonstrated remarkable dedication, initiative and creativity by introducing new technologies to our work at the CSTW’s Writing Center,” a colleague wrote.
One such media project Dangler created through the Writing Center is the radio and video segment Writers Talk, which airs on WCBE, the Ohio Channel, YouTube and through podcasts on iTunes. The segment focuses on interviews with diverse authors, from poets to songwriters, some from The Ohio State University. Dangler incorporates the undergraduate student community through involving them in research, interviews and production of Writers Talk.
Dangler’s dedication to implementing media in the study and teaching of writing also is visible through the Digital Media in a Social World conference he planned this past year. The event brought together faculty, staff and instructors interested in innovative research and teaching that involves the use of technology. As one colleague wrote, “The spirit of community that Doug fostered at the conference was infectious; it was one of the most well-run local conferences I’ve attended.”
In all that he does, Dangler encourages the implementation of digital media to enhance the experiences of the center’s staff and clients. “By developing creative solutions that increase the efficiency of the Writing Center and CSTW, Doug provides outstanding service to the OSU and Columbus communities,” another nominator wrote.
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
As a laboratory supervisor, Paul Green manages the construction and maintenance of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering’s essential scientific laboratories. As an innovative thinker and gifted machinist and model/instrument maker, Green goes above and beyond the mandated aspects of his job to enhance the safety and function of Ohio State laboratories.
A trained machinist, Green uses his own expertise to build laboratory instruments that could otherwise cost departments up to $10,000 apiece. Green not only saves departments, individuals and research groups money through making and repairing instruments, but he also brings in revenue to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
“He has a great deal of experience on various kinds of equipment and outstanding equipment design, fabrication and support/maintenance skills,” wrote a nominator. “This has significantly increased the research and teaching productivity in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.”
Green also networks with other departments and outside corporations. His extensive network of communication has secured his laboratories more than $75,000 in donated equipment and supplies.
Green is a leader in laboratory cleaning and safety. In order to improve Chemical Engineering students’ experiences in class, Green cleaned and reorganized the entire lab, including equipment and storage areas. He also brought the lab to OSHA compliance and enforced regular safety inspections and standards.
“In his attention to lab safety, as in everything he does, Green approaches his job with an eagerness to help and a commitment to quality work that serves as an example to his colleagues and any staff member of Ohio State,” a nominator wrote.
Cockroaches, houseflies and pillbugs may not seem appealing to many people, but to George Keeney, they are a main component of his job. As manager of the Insectary, Keeney is responsible for raising insects that are used for research and teaching in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology (EEOB).
Since he began his job in 1987, Keeney has transformed the Insectary into one that houses not only “typical” insects, but also walking sticks, scorpions, tarantulas and other exotic species.
“He inherited a moribund facility, which, because of his tremendous dedication and energy, has become a showplace of which OSU can be proud,” wrote a colleague. “He did this most certainly not by confining himself to the limits of his job description, but by going well beyond them. As a result, a great variety of insects are now available for research and teaching, and — very importantly — for community outreach.”
Keeney’s dedication to outreach also helps the public understand the value of insects. He travels throughout Ohio promoting his bugs. “George will participate in any fair, fest or open house and has appeared at any number of events sponsored by the Columbus Zoo, the Toledo Zoo, Columbus Metroparks, COSI and the Audubon Society,” a nominator wrote.
Keeney also visits classrooms to delight students with Ohio State’s insects. “I have run into so many students at OSU who remember George’s visits that I sometimes think he must have visited every classroom in Columbus,” a nominator wrote.
As another put it, Keeney truly “goes beyond” in almost everything he does regarding insects, “thus making a significant difference for faculty, undergraduates, graduates and members of the public.”
Senior Associate Director Undergraduate Admissions and First-Year Experience
Across the university, Allen Kraus represents the character of Ohio State through his work and the message he communicates to prospective Buckeyes.
Kraus oversees UAFYE’s marketing and communications, including the print and e-mail campaigns that broadcast the recruitment message.
“As evidenced by our consistently increasing application numbers and the quality of entering Ohio State students, Allen is very successful at communicating what it means to be an undergraduate at this university,” wrote a nominator.
Kraus also serves the undergraduate community through his direction of the First Year Experience program (FYE). He is responsible for the orientation programs, convocation, the success series and alternative breaks, all of which ensure an easier college transition and the success of Ohio State undergrads.
Kraus also assists parents through the Admissions and FYE programs. He has facilitated the creation of the Parent and Family Relations office, lending his expertise to the development of parent-oriented programs such as newsletters and an e-mail listserv that relays information ranging from the H1N1 virus to Parent and Family Weekend.
“Parents are essential not only to the success of their students, but also to the success of Ohio State as a whole. I cannot say enough about Allen Kraus and his cooperation in the formation of Parent and Family Relations,” a colleague said.
Above all, Kraus’ personality stands out as his most remarkable feature. Always kind and outgoing, Kraus uses his communication skills to inspire not only incoming students and their parents, but also other staff members. “Allen is a mentor to a number of our staff members in UAFYE who seek to emulate his high-quality work, productivity, collaborative mindset and care for others.”
Organizational Development Consultant
Office of Human Resources
Quite simply, Anne Massaro is a fountain of inspiration to anyone who crosses her path. She was part of the first group of employees to become “culture coaches” in Ohio State’s move to reshape the work culture in 2009, and she served as a coordinator, instructor and organizer for the 2005 and ’07 Leading Edge training programs.
“Each of the Leading Edge participants was profoundly changed and challenged to be a better member of the university community,” one nominator wrote, “not just because of the excellent programming, but because of Anne’s above-and-beyond approach to personalizing the program and her commitment to helping each of us achieve success in our lives, both professionally and personally.”
Those who learned from Massaro have gone on to earn job promotions, receive university distinctions and awards and serve on highly connected committees. They credit her constant belief that leadership skills can be taught and every individual at Ohio State has potential.
One former Leading Edge student approached Massaro about helping the student’s unit assess the senior team’s leadership strengths and weaknesses and to develop a strategic plan. “We couldn’t have done it without her,” the student wrote. “Her work was critical.”
Massaro earned the 2004-05 Council of Graduate Students Distinguished Service Award for her service to Ohio State graduate students. Massaro also extends her reach into the community, where she served as vice chair for Project Open-Hand Columbus, a group that provides nutritional meals to families living with HIV/AIDS.
As a nominator summed up: “Anne is truly one who ‘pays forward’ and inspires others to do as well.”
Office of International Affairs-Study Abroad
The Ohio State University study abroad process may seem a daunting experience for undergraduate students who choose to travel, but Laurie Ogburn is always there to ease student and parent fears. “Laurie is the silent superstar behind the scenes who works to ensure a smooth experience for these students by continuously streamlining and defining our practices,” wrote a colleague.
Students and staff alike recognize Ogburn for her personable, helpful attitude. Her dedication to her job is noticeable in the patient way she deals with the daily questions regarding study abroad. “Laurie never hesitates to send an email, pick up the phone or meet with a student to thoroughly explain and/or solve any question.”
Ogburn also works behind the scenes, implementing innovative solutions to improve Ohio State’s study abroad system. She developed OIA’s online study abroad application, integrating the program into the newly established Student Information System.
She also was a team member in the development of a study-abroad Carmen shell, which allows students to connect with the Ohio State system and education abroad advisors. Finally, Ogburn spearheaded Study Abroad’s use of the Document Management System, which collects contact, health history and passport information vital in emergency situations.
Above all, Ogburn continually assists her colleagues in understanding the Study Abroad Department. “Laurie Ogburn is a clear example of President Gee’s ‘One University’ imperative,” wrote a nominator. “Empowering all of us in Study Abroad and International Affairs is at the core of Laurie’s work ethic. She is truly a team member, concerned with the success of OSU, our department and OSU students.”
Carlyle Pearson’s unfailingly positive energy, intelligence, sincerity and humor raise the quality of work life for everyone around him. But as a bevy of nominators describe, he is much more than the proverbial “friendly custodial worker” for the three floors for which he’s responsible in Derby Hall.
Foremost, he provides exceptional service to those who study, work and teach in Derby Hall; across the board, nominators mentioned his diligence and the quality of his work in his everyday tasks and his dedication — even during a time when he had to undergo a grueling medical treatment — to keeping the environment clean and hospitable.
But beyond that, he has been described as a productive and contributing member of the building’s intellectual community — from members of several departments within Social and Behavioral Sciences.
“Carlyle transcends his job title by contributing in substantive, up-front ways to the effectiveness of our academic mission,” a nominator wrote. “He is a voracious reader with an exhaustive knowledge of African and African American history and literature, and what I’ve learned from him about race relations has been invaluable in improving how I advise students interested in such topics.”
Pearson, nominators said, exemplifies the highest standards of professionalism in every way.
“Carlyle has profoundly touched every person in our building,” another nominator wrote. “He brings out the best in everyone, and his presence and interactions convey a sense of all the positive things this world has to offer.”
Systems Manager/Technology Coordinator
Ohio State University South Centers, Piketon
When others are ready to throw their computers out the window because of technology problems, Duane Rigsby is the calm in the binary storm. An original employee when The Ohio State University South Centers opened in Piketon in 1991, Rigsby has the day-to-day duties of maintaining the information technology for not only university staff but also the 19 businesses the center serves through its Ohio State Endeavor Center.
Rigsby’s expertise, which includes solving practically any issue put in front of him, and his ability to enhance his customers’ service capabilities through technology has won him admiration at every level.
“Duane goes far beyond the bounds of his current role on many occasions,” one nominator wrote. “He does anything and everything to make all of us successful regardless of whether a problem or issue is in his area of responsibility or not.”
Rigsby also gives his fellow employees unfettered access, often opening his nights and weekends to work-related calls. And as one nominator noted, Rigsby has even been known to make house calls when employees’ personal computers crash unexpectedly.
The fact Rigsby is mostly self-taught is not lost on those who work with him.
“He constantly upgrades his skills through short courses and is always ready to present new technology options as they emerge,” the nominator wrote. “In addition, Duane stays on the cutting edge of technology developments and makes us aware of where things are heading.”
Above all, Rigsby is easy to get along with and creates a harmonious work atmosphere.
“In his ability to talk and interact with a wide variety of people regardless of their level of expertise, Duane has a way of making them feel comfortable and understood,” another nominator wrote. “And although he is one of the busiest people I know, he makes each person feel like he has plenty of time to assist them.”
Assistant Director, University Relations
Ohio State Mansfield
Rodger Smith is dedicated to representing Ohio State and the Mansfield campus not just by working behind a desk, but also through his active involvement in the local community. “Rodger’s community involvement represents what University Relations is all about. His activities represent not only his position on campus, but our campus as a whole in North Central Ohio,” wrote a nominator.
Smith’s social involvement is aimed at getting Ohio State Mansfield’s faculty, staff and campus recognized as “The Ohio State University.” On campus, he has held appointments on committees such as Marketing and Publicity, Website and Faculty-Staff Programs. Through his job in University Relations and his committee positions, Smith publicizes Ohio State Mansfield events in billboard and newspaper ads, as well as in articles in the local newspaper.
“This recognition of our endeavors allowed the Mansfield area to clearly see just how our campus reaches out to all the citizens,” wrote a colleague.
The public relations expert also has directed Ohio State Mansfield’s formidable development campaign, which has raised more than $6 million for the campus and also has secured funds for the Conrad Art Gallery.
Through volunteer commitments such as being on-site coordinator for Ohio Chataqua and president of the Mansfield Symphony’s Board of Trustees, Smith’s outside community service positively reflects on the Mansfield campus and develops community contacts and recognition.
“I do not know of another person on campus who has been able to keep such a high level of involvement in the happenings of a campus and community for such an extended period of time,” a nominator wrote. “Rodger certainly has been able to build bridges between those two entities that have been positive and profitable for both.”
Director, Ohio Union
Assistant Vice President, Student Life
Tracy Stuck is all about empowering others, but she makes it easy for them because of the enormous energy she supplies when she walks into a room. It’s nearly impossible not to leave feeling reinvigorated after being in her presence.
The energy can be traced to her love of Ohio State and the many staff and students who see her as a leader, mentor and friend.
“During the middle of the afternoon, you know, when you hit the slump, Tracy will have everyone available report to her area, where we will put on music and have a five- to 10-minute dance party,” one nominator wrote. “It’s these kinds of touches that make you appreciate her all the more.”
At the same time, Stuck isn’t afraid to challenge the thinking and creativity of those around her, and that has led to significant leaps forward in the Office of Student Life.
She helped establish the Student Activity Fee and empowered the student-run Ohio Union Activities Board to implement it by hosting more than 100 campus events annually. She also put students at the forefront of reimagining what a new Ohio Union should look like. Many of Stuck’s efforts are being used as a model at other universities around the country.
“Tracy is an amazing motivator of people,” another nominator wrote. “I always joke that she could go into a staff meeting intending to recruit people to wade through a swamp in the rain with no shoes or slicker, make it sound fun and walk out with the entire room ready to go.”
To be drawn to Stuck is to be part of a visionary process where ‘what could be’ is always being asked. That manifested in Stuck’s creation of the bowl game service projects, where attendees from Ohio State and the opposing football team join forces in the host town for a memorable community volunteer experience.
“Tracy is a very important part of our university community,” a nominator wrote, “and her presence here makes everyone’s job of putting students first even easier.”
Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
To her colleagues in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences, laboratory technologist Sharon Treaster embodies the word “dedication.” “No job is too small or too big, no time is too early or too late, no day is a ‘no-work day,’” a nominator wrote.
Specializing in teaching and outreach, Treaster acts as the chief teaching laboratory technologist, designing and overseeing lab experiences for Ohio State students. She also contributes to courses throughout the department. Both of these roles require Treaster to coordinate campus walks to examine Ohio fauna and landscapes.
“While this may be viewed as part of Sharon’s expectations in the job, what is special is her enthusiasm, dedication, organization and anticipation of needs at which she excels,” wrote a nominator.
Treaster’s hard work, good nature and enthusiasm influence her students as well. “Sharon was very enthusiastic about plants in a way that was contagious. She found ways to reveal the mysteries and details of interest to help one know plants and find their differences,” a former student noted.
Treaster also uses her passion for plants in outreach to the community. She initiated a collaborative program with the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens that promotes interest in native Ohio plants, and she educates gardeners in proper plant management methods. She also volunteers with the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Natural Areas and Preserves.
“She introduced me to the OSU Chadwick Arboretum beyond the classes I took, and I have been involved as a volunteer ever since,” a student wrote.
Truly, the university and local community, as well as the local environment have benefited from Treaster’s hard work and enthusiasm. “Sharon is a naturalist’s natural, a teacher’s teacher, a professional’s professional and a friend’s friend,” a colleague wrote.