President's Excellence Award Winners Announced

Return to Issue of Feb. 1, 2010 


Bodnar and President Lefton celebrate with Bodnar's team.
Smiles, handshakes and many surprised looks of happiness took place across the university recently, as the first recipients of the President’s Excellence Award were notified of their selection. Kent State President Lester A. Lefton dropped in on the workplaces of each of the 10 recipients to notify them of their honor and present them each with a check for $1,000. In one instance, at Kent State University at Ashtabula, Lefton informed the winner via Ichat on a computer.

The President’s Excellence Award was implemented this fall to recognize full-time classified and unclassified employees who demonstrated exceptional performance in advancing one or more of the goals of the university’s excellence agenda during the previous fiscal year. More than 200 nominations were received representing nearly 160 staff throughout the eight campus system.

The criteria included actions, initiatives or projects related to recruitment, retention, student success, diversity/inclusion, sustainability, effectiveness/efficiency, quality customer service, collaboration, innovation and serving as an ambassador for the university.

As he reviewed the nominations, Lefton said it was exciting to see so many examples of excellence taking place in areas that are critical to the university’s success. “What I learned about this year’s recipients and the other nominees reaffirms my belief that Excellence in Action is more than a slogan. It is fast becoming a way of life that is demonstrated daily — in ways large and small — by caring staff members,” Lefton said.

The President’s Excellence Award recipients are:

Lori A. Bodnar
Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach
Intercollegiate Athletics
Nominated for : Recruitment, Retention, Student Success, Diversity/Inclusion, Sustainability, Effectiveness/Efficiency, Quality Customer Service, Innovation, Serves as an ambassador for the university

Bodnar’s nomination states that she is “the epitome of Excellence in Action at Kent State University,” “has served as inspiration to many players, past and present,” and “in her 22-year tenure she has been pivotal in the recruitment and retention of female student-athletes.” The nomination also cites her dedication to student success and student development, noting that her commitment to the women athletes extends beyond the court and into the Kent community. This includes serving as director of the Kent State Women’s Basketball camps for 18 years. Those camps are one of the largest team camps in Ohio and draw nearly 1,000 attendees annually.

Lin M. Danes
Manager, Ecommunications and Web Content Services
University Communications and Marketing
Nominated for:
Recruitment, Retention, Effectiveness/Efficiency, Collaboration

Danes’ nominator credits her with being a key person in the university Web site redesign project to support recruitment and retention efforts to attract and engage students, while also making it easy for them to find the information they need on the university Web site. Danes led the redesign charge for University Relations and worked closely with the Information Services team. The nominator cited Danes for her exceptional interpersonal skills in dealing with other departments and colleges in developing a final site to meet a multitude of needs and the time commitment required to bring the project in on time. According to the nomination form, “her level of commitment to the university was exemplary.”

Thomas Dent Jr.
Custodial Worker
Campus Environment and Operations
Nominated for:
Recruitment, Retention, Student Success, Diversity/Inclusion, Effectiveness/Efficiency, Quality Customer Service, Serves as an ambassador for the university

Nominations for Dent were submitted by two faculty members from Nixson Hall. They state that this individual directly (and indirectly) has an effect on all categories in the Excellence Agenda. The nominators go on to say that Dent has served Kent State for many years with the most friendly, helpful and competent attitude one would desire in any employee. They also state that their building is virtually 100 percent clean and attractive to students, visitors, parents and others at all times due, in large part, to Dent’s work. This in itself promotes retention, recruitment and quality customer service. The nominators also note that “any time he is asked to go above and beyond the job expectations, he does so with a smile and an effort to take care of the task at hand.”

Lisa A. Ferrell
Housekeeping Supervisor
Residence Services/Custodial Services
Nominated For: Recruitment, Retention, Student Success, Effectiveness/Efficiency, Quality Customer Service, Serves as an ambassador for the university

Until recently, Ferrell was a part of Campus Environment and Operations; she is now a housekeeping supervisor with Residence Services. Her nominator states that her supervisory skills are second to none and include unannounced walk-throughs in her buildings to ensure task completion. The nominator also states that “because of her leadership, her area is the most motivated which produces the strongest team and the highest standards possible.” The nomination also notes that Ferrell has been seen in buildings, after her shift has ended, conversing with building curators to see how she and her team could provide better service. According to the nominator, “this is customer service to the 10th degree!”

Jay W. Hays
Academic Advisor
College of Nursing
Nominated For:
Recruitment, Retention, Student Success, Diversity/Inclusion, Effectiveness/Efficiency, Quality Customer Service, Serves as an ambassador for the university

Hays was nominated for a decade of service to Kent State that has been consistently focused on a passion for student success, respect for pedagogy, increasing diversity in the student body and promoting degree completion. The nomination letter lists his contributions as increasing enrollments through targeted marketing; contributing to the development of informational forums with online registration to meet the needs of prospective students; developing and implementing a transcript evaluation plan and tracking system for accelerated students and managing the selective admissions process for the college. The nomination also cites his tireless dedication in his work with students, his commitment to a more diverse student population and his work in the community as a division commander to Sigma Nu fraternity at the local and regional level.

David J. Herpy
Recreation Program Coordinator
Recreational Services
Nominated for:
Recruitment, Retention, Student Success, Quality Customer Service, Collaboration, Serves as an ambassador for the university

Herpy’s nominator states that advancing the Excellence Agenda is evident in all that he does in his work at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Examples cited include his work in creating the First-Year Experience Wilderness Orientation program for freshmen; successfully securing a grant from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources to teach Ohio Boating Education classes to Kent State students and the community; collaborating with the city of Kent on the Kent Whitewater Project and working with an MBA service marketing class to develop a business plan for a satellite outfitter facility in downtown Kent.

Kimberly A. Kearns
Administrative Clerk
Undergraduate Programs, College of Business Administration
Nominated For:
Recruitment, Retention, Student Success, Diversity/Inclusion, Sustainability, Effectiveness/Efficiency, Quality Customer Service, Collaboration, Innovation, Serves as an ambassador for the university

“Her title should be VIP ambassador,” “she is the heart of our office” and “her treatment of others is beyond exceptional,” are just some of the comments from the three nominations for Kearns. As the first line of communication for all students, she will go out of her way to help them and encourage them to keep coming back for help. The nomination also states that through her everyday efforts, she is both retaining students as well as helping to recruit new students. The nominators point out that numerous parents have told them how helpful, positive and kind Kearns was and that it really made them feel like they fit in.

Eboni Pringle
Director, Student Success Program
Office of the Provost
Nominated for:
Student Success

Pringle’s nominator recognizes her for providing a guiding vision to the Student Success unit during a year that saw several staffing changes and the implementation of the new Destination Kent State programs for new students. She is cited for “working tirelessly to provide each of us with the support that we needed.... while keeping our mission, and that of the university, at the forefront.” The nomination also talks about Pringle’s passion for students and knowledge of current practices that helped to bring definition to the office and provided the staff with a clear vision of how to help students succeed. She has consistently embodied the “talent, tenacity and focus on teamwork” that the President acknowledged as key to the success of the university in the previous year.

William (David) Schultz
Business Services Administrator
Ashtabula Campus
Nominated For:
Recruitment, Retention, Student Success, Effectiveness/Efficiency, Collaboration, Innovation

Schultz is described as “a leader with an unwavering commitment to the university’s mission to help students succeed.” The nominator goes on to say that Schultz is highly effective, whether fulfilling his regular duties as supervisor of the campus IT department, business office, bookstore or maintenance department, or serving as the lead on the new Robert S. Morrison Health and Science Building. Schultz was recognized for spending countless hours and making many personal sacrifices to see the completion of the new building on time and without compromise. His collaborative style ensures high quality results through the involvement of faculty and staff. He listens, sees the big picture and he delivers, says his nomination. Schultz is described as a person who “helps everyone see ‘we’ in an all-too-often world of ‘me’.”

Brent A. Wood
Senior Facility Manager
Stark Campus
Nominated for:

Woods’ nominator states that “through a variety of committees and daily interactions, he is a spokesperson for sustainability, a conscience for careful usage of university and natural resources and a leader in the development of campus initiatives for conservation.” As head of the campus sustainability committee, he led the group in establishing a mission statement and planning participation in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education initiatives; led a waste minimization campaign, and helped increase recycling at the campus. Working with energy service companies, he facilitated an energy audit which will help reduce campus energy usage and energy costs. He also leads the campus Tree Committee, which has produced a tree plan to manage the campus urban forest through species selection and protection.

For more information about the President’s Award for Excellence, and to see images of all the winners, go to the Web site.

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