For their contributions to Pitt in a wide range of capacities, 10 University staff members have been named the most recent recipients of the University’s highest honor for staff, the Chancellor’s Awards for Staff Excellence.
The 2018-19 recipients, who will be honored at a luncheon celebration later this month, will receive $2,500 and recognition on a plaque in the William Pitt Union.
The awards are open to full- and part-time employees, both classified and union, who demonstrate the highest level of achievement in one of 10 categories: research support, community engagement, service to the University community, University engagement, outstanding career achievement, administrative and operational efficiency, early career achievement, student impact, commitment to diversity and inclusion and excellent mentor.
Nearly 100 staff members were nominated for the 2018-19 honors.
The award recipients are:
Peter G. Chambers
Director of Shared Research Support Services, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Chambers is the founding director of the Shared Research Support Services, which merged a number of research support facilities into a central Dietrich School office while making sure there were no disruptions in the University’s research efforts. He also developed a website to provide faculty with information about available resources across the school, the largest at the University.
“I hope it’s made people’s jobs and lives easier,” Chambers said. “My job is to make it easier for other people to do theirs. By creating efficiencies and making sure things are shared accurately, my job is to make sure my team can support the faculty who are doing amazing science.”
Noelle C. Conover
Project Coordinator, School of Medicine
Conover, who began her career at Pitt, called the University her “home base,” from which she derives energy and inspiration. Her work has included establishing several funds and programs in memory of her son, Matt, including Matt’s Media for Kids with Cancer Fund, Matt’s Maker Space and Matt’s Hugs.
“Receiving this award is so meaningful to me,” Conover said. “When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I always thought he would survive and one day help others by sharing his story. I realize now that through all the hats I wear here — employee, donor, volunteer and patient mom — I am able to share his story and help others see light instead of darkness. Matt’s Maker Space allows us to keep Matt’s memory alive, show other families that there is a way to help grief through giving back and leave a meaningful legacy in our community.”
Service to the University Community
Maureen M. Conrad
Assistant to the Chief of Police, Pitt Police Department
As a member of the University Police Department, Conrad has worked to make the campus and Oakland neighborhood safe and welcoming environments for the community. Conrad’s efforts to launch a command call center during the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic shooting, during a time when the University was also dealing with a series of bomb threats, were cited for special recognition.
“I cannot express how proud I am to receive this award,” said Conrad. “As an employee of 34 years, I couldn’t be prouder of my commitment to the University community. My love for this job, the people I work with and to be a part of serving the University community is what makes coming to work every day so worth it.”
Stacey L. Czerniejewski
Executive Assistant, Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer
Czerniejewski was recognized for her 20 years of service organizing and executing all aspects of the Salvation Army’s Treasures for Children project for the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer. Additionally, she has served as her department’s United Way Campaign representative and has in years past worked on the selection committee for the Chancellor’s Staff Awards. (Czerniejewski was not a member of the 2018-19 selection committee.)
“I do work with the Salvation Army and United Way not for the recognition, but because I feel it’s the right thing to do, and for us all to do. That’s why I’m always happy to connect my fellow coworkers to help,” Czerniejewski said.
Outstanding Career Achievement
Former Executive Assistant, Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations
Though Doswell retired at the end of July, she was recognized just prior to leaving for her progression through positions of increasing responsibility, culminating in her role as executive assistant to the senior vice chancellor for business and operations.
“I worked at Pitt for 31 years and earned my degree in social sciences by taking evening classes. The University very much became like family and home, so retiring was somewhat bittersweet,” said Doswell. “But for me to receive this award as I was retiring was like icing on the cake of my career.”
Administrative and Operational Efficiency
Brice Everett Lynn
Assistant Director, Study Abroad Office
In his role in the Study Abroad Office, Lynn has improved efficiencies in various ways, including implementing a paperless application process, launching a new website with smarter search tools and introducing a redesign of the Study Abroad print materials.
“When I studied abroad as Pitt undergrad in 2009, the process was entirely on paper and I found it to be incredibly overwhelming,” Lynn said. He worked to create a paperless process that lowers barriers to entry for students and frees up administrators’ time. “The most rewarding aspect of these endeavors has been seeing the amazingly creative and innovative projects that my team members can dream up with the time they’ve saved, taking Pitt to the world and bringing the world to Pitt.”
Early Career Achievement
Program Manager, Study Abroad Office
Noori first came to the University as a temporary employee, but in less than five years moved to a full-time position. He’s received three promotions in four years to become program manager in the Study Abroad Office.
“I am honored to give my best to the Pitt community because, firstly, I believe in the vision and mission of this great institution, secondly, I appreciate this welcoming, accepting and inclusive community and work environment, and thirdly, because I feel indebted to Pitt,” said Noori. He said that he didn’t have the opportunity to attend college as a traditional student, but was able to earn his bachelor’s degree after being hired at Pitt. He has gone on to work on his master’s degree at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.
Dana C. Romano
Associate Director of Career Management, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
Romano’s work to prepare students to lead lives of impact through a supportive environment focused on an individualized approach to learning was cited in her recognition. Her efforts included helping develop innovative programs like Healthcare 101 and Katz Boot Camp.
“Helping others grow and become successful business leaders while building lifelong relationships is extremely rewarding,” Romano said. “Being recognized for doing the work that I am passionate about is not only an honor, but very humbling. I have the best job in the entire world; I help others, one student at a time.”
Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
Karen J. Steffey
Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Computer Science, School of Computing and Information
Steffey has worked to emphasize diversity and inclusion as core values of the community and her department, including through fostering diversity of student employees and visiting low-performing Pittsburgh Public Schools to recruit students.
“I am proud to be an alum, staff member and a member of the Staff Council at a university where diversity and inclusion are key values and goals,” said Steffey. “Diversity and inclusion can seem lofty, but they are simply about treating other people with love, dignity and respect. Something we can all strive to do every day.”
Lauren O. Wallace
Director of Undergraduate Recruitment, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
Wallace was cited for her important role nurturing, encouraging and assisting members of her office as they develop the skills needed to make strong first impressions on potential students. Additionally, she has helped develop new methods of outreach, including the creation of the Pittsburgh Admissions Collaboration.
“To me, this recognition means leaving a legacy through others, at the University that has given me so much,” Wallace said. “I can see, in my team, people who will change my alma mater, and possibly even the world, for the better; there is no better feeling than to know I played a part in that.”