KU announces employees of the month

Wed, 02/27/2013

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has bestowed Employee of the Month honors for the months of December and January. They are as follows:

University Unclassified Staff Employee of the Month for January 2013
Who: Jennifer Accurso Bryant
Start date: 1998
Current title: Director of finance and administration at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project

What that means: Bryant oversees grant proposal budget preparation for 14 research scientists and is responsible for managing the financial and administration work for more than 20 grants and contracts in a $7-8 million annual operating budget. Her duties include pre- and post-award budget prep, new grant submission, analysis of project spending and research integrity.  She supervises an office staff of five in the diverse areas of purchasing, human resources, reception, community relations, and media. In addition Jenne oversees the facilities management and space allocation.

Notable: Bryant stepped into her managerial role after the untimely death of the former administrator and is widely recognized for having handled this unexpected transition and difficult circumstance with a finesse that was appreciated by her new colleagues. She had big shoes to fill, as the previous business manager had served for 40 years, which also meant that Jenne had a lot of work and reorganization to do in bringing the financial and personnel records up-to-date. She also was instrumental in the smooth transition of the program to a new building in 2010.

University Support Staff Employee of the Month for January 2013
Who: Cynthia Rodriguez
Start date: 2007
Current title: Accountant, Department of Molecular Biosciences

What that means: Rodriguez coordinates accounting of research grant monies; she works collaboratively with KUCR staff, the MB faculty, and others to get this done. Efficient and skilled at grants accounting, she has made things easier for her department’s faculty and administration in her short time with them.

Notable: Rodriguez is professional in her work and has the essential attention to detail and accuracy necessary for financial management, but she goes far beyond that. She was still new in her job when she stood in to operate the department’s Bio-Store when it was between managers. Another time, when a colleague and supervisor had to take medical leave, Rodriguez covered those duties as well as her own. Friendly and willing to help out as needed, she has been helpful training other new staff in Molecular Biosciences and consistent in responding to faculty/researcher needs.

University Unclassified Staff Employee of the Month for December 2012
Name: Cotter Mitchell
Start date: Fall 1984
Current title: Coordinator, Department of Visual Art

What that means: Cotter oversees the daily operation of this 6,100 –square-foot work area, on the second floor of the Art & Design Building, that includes a wood shop, metal fabrication shop, vacuum form/materials room, spray booth room, tool room, classroom and general working space. He manages the daily operation of the shop, supervises support staff and student hourly employees, and assists students and faculty with art projects.

Notable: Cotter is not only a skilled woodworker but also a creative problem solver. He is an exceptional resource for students and faculty who need technical assistance. He is invaluable in assisting faculty with special research needs, or with building anything from simple painting stretcher frames to specialized crates for shipping fragile art work or unique display devices. Freshman art students are trained how to use the Common Shop properly and safely. All faculty members work with Cotter in some capacity, whether to have his assistance in classroom instruction, for creative research, or to help with installing an exhibition.

University Support Staff Employee of the Month for December 2012
Destiny Poole
Start date: Summer 2011
Title at time of honor: Program assistant, School of Engineering

What that means: Poole worked closely with several departments and the engineering school to coordinate the program. As administrative assistant she kept the program running by overseeing the budgets and financial accounting, recruiting and graduate student support, student and program record keeping, and supervising student hourly employees.

Notable: The two-campus nature of the program sometimes leads to complex issues, and Poole was particularly good at seeking out the right person to assist her when intercampus issues arose. In addition to her official duties, such as assisting the Bioengineering Student Council, she went outside of her job description to make sure new students found their way to campus and into the program successfully.

Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here: http://bit.ly/1awodaa
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@NYTimes columnist @WCRhoden will speak at a symposium about race and sports April 23. http://t.co/UiKA9MYNv0 http://t.co/PHwCOHqcfD
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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