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10 receive University Staff Recognition Awards

June 27, 2023 By Greg Bump

Ten outstanding University Staff members, from departments and units across the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, have been chosen for 2023 University Staff Recognition Awards. The employees received their awards at the June University Staff Congress meeting.

The winners are recognized for achievements that include promoting the image of the university, demonstrating excellence, showing leadership, recommending innovative ideas and creating a welcoming workplace.

The following profiles are summaries from nominations submitted to the selection committee.

A police officer in uniform walks a dog.

Sgt. Nicole (Nicki) Zautner is a handler for police dog Kobalt. Photo: Bryce Richter

Sgt. Nicole Zautner, University of Wisconsin Police Department

Zautner wears many hats for the UWPD, including that of a K9 handler, patrol sergeant, training officer, instructor and subject matter expert in a number of fields. Zautner provides briefing trainings and seeks to develop the skills of all her coworkers. She regularly and freely shares her expertise for the benefit of those around her. In addition, she has been selfless as a broader community member and takes on additional responsibilities in her scant free time. She organizes the annual “Shop with a Cop” activity in which officers take disadvantaged children from the community and shop for gifts for them and their families. Zautner has also been a coordinator for the department’s Special Olympics outreach activities for a number of years.

A man in a red shirt opens a door.

Daniel Eberle, printing operator courier with Information Technology in Systems Engineering & Operations, delivers a package of business cards to Bascom Hall. Photo: Althea Dotzour

Daniel Eberle, Printing Operator II, Department of Information Technology

Eberle started as a bindery technician more than eight years ago, and quickly learned all of the equipment in the shop, becoming one of the most versatile and valuable staff members in the production area. He’s a skilled operator and maintenance tech and is relied upon for complex projects. Eberle’s previous experience as a security officer with UWPD gives him an excellent grasp of the campus landscape and building layout. His expertise has led to him training other drivers on best practices and updates to campus buildings. Eberle’s nominator also commended his excellent communication skills, attention to detail and overall professionalism.

A man at a desk stands and talks to another man, whose back we see.

Eric Taylor, evening reference librarian and library assistant in the Law School Library, helps a library user. Photo: Bryce Richter

Eric Taylor, Library Assistant III, UW Law Library

As a student, Taylor began working at the UW Law Library in 1989. His experience and breadth of knowledge enables him to understand the law, legal continuations and the library’s collection better than any other staff member, leading to the cancellation of several duplicative or underused titles that have saved the library thousands of dollars. He shares his knowledge with library patrons, willing to help out however needed, often without being asked. Community members needing legal research assistance request him, current faculty and students seek him out and, years after graduation, many Law School alumni recall his eagerness to help. Taylor’s nominator also commended his reliability and accuracy, which make his coworkers’ jobs much easier.

A woman smiles at the camera.

Gwen Goplin, senior accountant with the School of Education’s Wisconsin Center of Educational Research, poses for a portrait in her office at the Educational Sciences Building. Photo: Althea Dotzour

Gwen Goplin, Accountant III, Wisconsin Center for Educational Research

A WCER employee for more than 45 years, Goplin helps colleagues with financial projections/reporting, audits, payroll analysis and other accounting needs, and navigating grant processes, interpreting uniform guidance, university policies and other issues. She consistently attends campus training to learn about new policies, software, and research that is happening while also serving on varying committees for departmental projects. According to her nominator, Goplin takes the time to care for coworkers, remembering birthdays, offering a kind ear if a coworker is having a rough day, and taking the time to be social and maintain department community.

A woman cuts up bratwurst with a knife.

Kristine Schultz, department administrator in the anthropology department, slices brats of different flavors that she cooked for her team’s annual brat lunch outside of the William H. Sewell Social Sciences Building. Photo: Althea Dotzour

Kristine Schultz, Department Administrator I, Department of Anthropology

Known for grace under pressure, Schultz first began working in the Anthropology Department in 2010 as the Graduate Coordinator and has served as department administrator since April 2015. During the pandemic, Schultz initiated various innovative ideas that have resulted in efficiencies maintained to the present. To maintain morale during remote work, she provided a daily morning news bulletin, often with a fun quote or GIF, and held daily “team time,” not only to share updates on work but, as she put it, “remain humans.”

A man drills a screw into a door.

Mason Miles, carpenter with Facilities Planning and Management, helps keep the Law School building in shape. Photo: Bryce Richter

Mason Miles, Carpenter, Facilities Planning & Management

Miles, the carpenter supporting the Law Building and other buildings on Bascom Mall, communicates effectively and efficiently, is excellent at problem solving and ensures building occupants are safe by following ADA and all safety rules. He’s done everything from securing a support beam displaying irreplaceable alumni photos, to assisting with the installation of a new fire suppression system, to fixing loose stair rails in the Law School. Miles is “helping to keep these old buildings in shape for another 150 years,” his nominator said.

A woman in a white lab coat smiles for the camera.

Melinda Oxner, animal care manager at the School of Medicine & Public Health, poses for a portrait near the reverse osmosis and salination tanks. Photo: Althea Dotzour

Melinda Oxner, Animal Care Manager, School of Medicine and Public Health

Oxner, who has been an animal care manager at Biomedical Research Model Services for 12 years, oversees three animal vivariums, including the new saltwater aquatic systems for sharks. Along with her regular manager duties, she also supports the Cardiovascular Core as a Licensed Veterinary Technician in anesthesia and recovery of large animals. Oxner is always trying to improve her management skills, attends as many leadership workshops as campus has to offer and has an open-door policy so she is always available for her staff. Her nominator says Oxner is friendly, compassionate and leads by example.

Megan Stiemke, Veterinary Technician II, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center

Stiemke, a WNPRC employee for four years, is not only hard working but a great source of positivity, dedicated to her job and continuing to learn new procedures and advance her skills. She invites staff members from other units, such as animal care technicians, to learn more about the animals they care for and the veterinary care that is provided to them. Stiemke is thoughtful and kind, her nominator says, and is known for bringing treats to share with co-workers. She takes time to give recognition when others don’t. (Editor’s note: Stiemke has since left employment with UW–Madison for another opportunity.)

A woman talks with another woman.

Erin Carlson Rivera, administrative assistant II in the Division of UW Extension in Milwaukee County, a part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, keeps the public informed about the division’s many programs. Photo: Bryce Richter

Erin Carlson Rivera, Administrative Assistant II, UW Extension

Rivera’s role in administrative and communications support of the Entrepreneurship in Training Partnership program and Community Garden Rental program for the Division of Extension in Milwaukee County is invaluable to the functioning and wellbeing of the team. Her role has often been public-facing in answering questions from the community about the division’s many programs. She is known to manage multiple hectic and last-minute requests with grace. Without being asked, she volunteered for a project management role during the office’s Civil Rights Review, ensuring that every person’s concerns were heard, questions were answered, and the presentation was a success.

A man stands up in a room with desks and computer monitors.

Lee Bilke on his job as a customer services representative in Transportation Services. Photo: Bryce Richter

Lee Bilke, Customer Services Representative, Transportation Services

Bilke has been working for campus’s Transportation Services for 21 years, providing outstanding customer service to the university and hospital community. He helps employees and visitors manage parking permits, citations, and other concerns in a timely manner with his wealth of accumulated resources and knowledge, and his professional communications skills. In complex parking situations, Bilke reaches out to other units in the department to determine the best solution. Bilke shows patience and kindness, resulting in positive feedback from customers.

Tags: staff awards