LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has announced the 2019 January and February Employees of the Month:
Rose Broers serves as the manager of the KU passport office. In that role, she is a Department of State-certified U.S. passport acceptance agent, and she oversees and trains the other passport acceptance agents in the office. Broers is also the manager of the International House at KU, which serves as a residence for international visitors. In that role, she oversees the maintenance of the I-House; she schedules, welcomes and bills new international house residents; and she assists people with getting settled in Lawrence and at KU.
Broers has almost single-handedly transformed the International House — a century-old, five-bedroom residence across from the Oread Hotel that offers temporary accommodations to visiting scholars and other international guests – from an unkempt, dysfunctional old space to a warm, welcoming, spotless, well-kept home-away-from-home. She goes out of her way to ensure that visitors are properly welcomed and accommodates arrivals at any hour of the day or night. She does everything from personally laundering the bedding to ensuring the cleaning crew is held to her high standards, making sure that the room has the appropriate furniture, keeping on top of all necessary maintenance and landscaping, and even creating instructions for residents on what to do if there is a tornado warning. She has cleaned out the basement and garage that had been left to languish and maintained countless household repairs.
In her role as a certified passport acceptance agent, she truly stands out. Passport Services has clientele who often have never had a passport and can be confused and overwhelmed by the rules and required documents. Broers serves all of these clients with kindness, enthusiasm and grace. The office is a true community resource whose clientele goes far beyond the KU community and extends to the broader Kansas community. In order to cope with all of the child foot traffic in the office, Broers created a toy shelf for kids to use while they wait for parents to complete forms, and she always has Jayhawk coloring sheets and crayons for older children.
On her most recent facility inspection, Broers was observed and interviewed for three hours by the State Department Acceptance Facility Oversight analyst, and he found no errors and declared that the facility was “verified to be in full compliance and is performing exceptionally.” The auditor even made the comment that she was the first person he had met in the nation who had been able to answer all of his questions correctly.
In the work that Broers does, she welcomes the world to KU through her duties at the I-House with international visitors and helps send Jayhawks on their way to see the world.
Alex Novosel’tsev is a painter in Facilities Services, where he works to patch and paint buildings and facilities in student housing. Novosel’tsev not only completes the requirements of his job, but he also goes above and beyond to correct any issues that he sees to ensure the safety and security of staff and students. He is described by co-workers as a great team player who does what he can to keep others happy as he is full of jokes and humor and elevates the mood of his team.
While he is responsible for painting, Novosel’tsev has numerous times noticed loose carpet squares and thresholds that were trip hazards as well as loose plugins, off-hung doors and other issues, and he has gone out of his way to make sure all were fixed before he left the area so that they would not cause issues for students. Rather than wait for someone else to repair those issues, he goes outside of the scope of his job and makes them his priority to get fixed before leaving the area and moving on to his next project. He really cares about students and their safety.
The department can always depend on Novosel’tsev to complete any task he is given on time. As an example, this past summer, Novosel’tsev was responsible for painting every mechanical room in student housing. This work took weeks. No mechanical room has air-conditioning, but he never complained and he didn’t stop until the project was finished. He was also given the project to paint all of the scholarship halls in one year. Soon after, residence halls were added. He got it all done in eight months.
As an example of his work ethic and sense of humor, his team was delivering and installing fire escape doors in Pearson Hall. It took two employees to carry one door up the fire escape in the rain, and the employees were exhausted. Novosel’tsev grabbed a door and tossed it on his shoulder and on his own carried it up the fire escape like it was nothing. A co-worker said, “We would not have gotten the task done without his help and a bit of his ribbing.” Novosel’tsev is always willing to jump in to help and always does his very best.
February Employees of the Month
Kari Balthazor has been with the Applied English Center since 2011, serving as office manager, and this past summer she became assistant director. A “jack of all trades,” she juggles schedules, works with employees who are changing positions and retiring, attends budget meetings, sets up courses, handles aspects of advertising and website development, and facilitates the annual faculty review process – to name a few of her roles.
Balthazor’s skills range from coding and updating the department website, managing large amounts of data and deadlines. She handles paperwork for about 40 employees and assists them with small and large tasks. She is a problem-solver and a good listener. She knows when to listen and when to take action. She is knowledgeable, yet humble.
Balthazor truly is the "go-to" in the Applied English Center. Her job encompasses diverse duties and necessitates a unique skill set. Her communication is action-based but personalized. Balthazor’s work skills are remarkable. A colleague said, “I can never believe how much she gets done in a given amount of time, and the work is high-quality – always accurate and forward-thinking.” Balthazor is incredibly dependable, extremely hard-working and very collaborative. She is solution- and quality-oriented, and she always seeks to take others into account.
During a vacancy of the director position, Balthazor went above and beyond. Those in the department said that Balthazor took on a significant amount of responsibility to fill in for 10 months while the department was without a director. Balthazor was able to take on the additional tasks, meetings and projects, and she was still able to meet deadlines and stay on top of her regularly assigned duties. Despite the heavy workload she carries, she is always gracious and pleasant.
Everyone in the Applied English Center is thankful for Balthazor, describing her as “essential to the health of the department.” One of her colleagues said, “If I personally were on a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean or on an airplane with engine failure, I would want Balthazor there. She would both figure out how to keep us alive while keeping me from falling apart from the emotion of it all. Not everyone can be on your boat. I would want Balthazor on my boat!”
Larry Laubhan works as code compliance coordinator for Facilities Planning & Development (FPD). In that role, he goes out every single day to job sites to inspect construction projects as well as perform annual fire inspections in every existing building at KU, including the Edwards Campus.
Laubhan has many years of experience in inspecting buildings for code compliance, fire safety and proper construction. Prior to coming to KU, Laubhan worked for the Kansas State Fire Marshal for over three decades as a fire protection specialist overseeing Regents facilities and conducting annual fire inspections statewide and at KU. What is unique about Laubhan is the relationship he has built with managers to provide a clear understanding of how the university should evolve to promote life safety within the building environment. Additionally, his attention to code and observation of real-life conditions in KU facilities focused FPD on what needed to be changed for the safety of the community.
Laubhan was hired four years ago, just in time to contribute to the enormous workload Design & Construction Management, now FPD, faced managing 16 major construction projects comprising 1.8 million square feet. Laubhan worked diligently to cover every aspect of construction inspections representing FPD interest, observing every square foot of built space and focusing on the safety of the KU community. While doing this he still walked the annual inspections with the State Fire Marshal inspection team, and he completes his own inspections. The buildings he inspects include 31 residential dorms and homes and 122 academic buildings — a total of 153 buildings or 10 million square feet of buildings that Laubhan walks and inspects every single year.
This recent construction effort over the last few years on campus is the largest in university history, and its success depended on members of the design and compliance management team to get it done on time. Laubhan’s job much of the time is “behind the scenes,” but the energy he puts into keeping everyone safe is beyond measure.