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Administrative employees honored for improving the campus experience

May 3, 2016

Five teams that shaped improvements leading to better service delivery, efficiency, use of technology and campus sustainability have been selected to receive UW–Madison’s 2016 Administrative Improvement Award.

The award recipients are being recognized for their exceptional work in administrative roles supporting academics, research, student services, outreach or administration.

“I greatly appreciate the work of the award recipients in improving the delivery of administrative services and making UW–Madison a more effective institution,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank says. “The recognition they are receiving from a grateful campus community is much deserved.”

A member of Badger Volunteers reviews a math exercise with a student at Velma Hamilton Middle School in Madison in 2010. The Badger Volunteers program is one of the winners of the 2016 Administrative Improvement Award.

A member of Badger Volunteers reviews a math exercise with a student at Velma Hamilton Middle School in Madison in 2010. The Badger Volunteers program is one of the winners of the 2016 Administrative Improvement Award. Photo: Jeff Miller

Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Michael Lehman says the award winners were selected from a highly competitive field of nominees.

“These award winners improved the overall campus experience for students, faculty, staff, visitors and community partners,” Lehman says.

The award recipients will be honored Tuesday, May 24 at Union South. The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. The campus community is invited.

Winners of the 2016 Administrative Improvement Award are:

UW-Madison Receipt Reduction Team

Julie Luke and Jodi Bodnar of University Housing; Carl Korz of the Wisconsin Union; Angela Pakes Ahlman, Jill Sakai and Kyla Kaplan of the Office of Sustainability; Professor Duncan Carlsmith, Department of Physics; and Professor Holly Gibbs and Tyler Lark of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

In 2013, when cash registers were set to automatically print paper receipts, transactions generated 550 miles of receipts for University Housing’s Dining and Culinary Services and 275 miles of receipts for the Wisconsin Union. However, many customers refused their receipts, which piled up in messy heaps or blew off customer trays to become unsightly litter.

These concerns led former student Rachel Feil to develop a research project on receipt reduction for an environmental studies capstone course before she graduated in 2014. A survey distributed through Associated Students of Madison found that 62 percent of respondents preferred optional receipts and 35 percent wanted no receipts.

Dining and Culinary Services launched a receipt-optional pilot project in Smith Residence Hall. The roll-out required adjusting register settings to no longer print receipts automatically and training student employees to print receipts only for customers who requested them.

Registers in all Dining and Culinary Services facilities and most Wisconsin Union restaurants, markets and cafes are now receipt optional. In the seven months since implementation, the Wisconsin Union has reduced receipt paper usage by 37 percent compared to the same period the previous year, while Dining and Culinary Services has cut its receipt paper purchases by 93 percent.

Accounts Payable Vendor Payment Conversion Team

Sandy Bolson, Josh Totsky, Mark Domaszek, Grace Venturini, Liv Goff, Kathy Virnig, Rose Hatfield, Lori Voss, Forrest Koslowski and Mackenzie Wichmann, all of Business Services

UW-Madison historically has paid vendors by paper check. Processing and mailing paper checks costs between $2.55 and $4.05 per payment, while automated payments cost $1. Writing and mailing checks also creates a risk of fraud and delayed payment penalties.

The objectives of this project were to speed up the accounts payable payment process, reduce processing costs, strengthen financial internal controls and improve vendor and UW–Madison satisfaction with the process. After initially working to convert internal UW–Madison units to automated payments, the initiative moved to convert external vendor payments.

As of March 2016, the number of vendors converted to automated payments has far exceeded the initiative’s goals. Estimates of daily savings in processing time range from 15 to 90 minutes. Cost reductions resulting from reduced use of supplies and personnel for check preparation range from $11,311 to $22,271 to date. In addition, paper checks are handled by three to four people in Accounts Payable and additional people as checks move through campus mail and the postal service. Automated payments require no handling activities.

Biochemistry Logistics Team

David Parker, Cathy Michael, Kerry Tobin, Charlie Lor, all of the Department of Biochemistry

The Department of Biochemistry receives over 15,000 packages annually. Packages are delivered to 33 laboratories spread over three buildings. Previously, the department had no way to track deliveries or find lost packages. The department also had to keep copies of all packing slips for audit purposes. It was nearly impossible to track lost or missing packages.

The project team developed the Biochemistry Logistics Tool (BLT), a web-based application designed to help document the process and centrally track receipts and delivery of laboratory supplies. BLT uses barcode technology to capture the shipping company’s tracking number, which is then scanned into a web-form database.

The tool has led to much-improved tracking of packages. It provides accurate and reliable information faster and more efficiently than the previous paper process, leading to better use of staff resources. The department’s management staff spends far less time compiling information and more time providing insight and analysis.

Advising Gateway Team

Jeff Shokler, Academic Advising; Scott Owczarek, Registrar; Patrick Hare, Michael Farnham, Jessica Jones, Phyllis Treige, Saikat Sengupta, Todd Hill, Andy Goldstein and Serge Margovsky, Division of Information Technology (DoIT)

The Advising Gateway provides a single point of access to student record information for advisors. Previously, the time and effort it took to navigate multiple systems and the background knowledge needed to use each program was highly inefficient. Communication regarding student interactions among advisors and campus colleagues was documented in another program, leading to further difficulties.

The Advising Gateway Team envisioned an application within the MyUW portal that an advisor could log into, search for a student by name, ID or email address, and access necessary information on the first screen view. During development of the Gateway, the team kept the campus advising community abreast of project developments to provide opportunities for feedback and understand the needs of advisors and students.

Readily available information allows students and advisors to spend less time trying to access information and more time forming important relationships and discussing student interests and plans.

Badger Volunteers

Stephanie Harrill, Kari Temkin, Megan Miller and Karen Crossley, all of Badger Volunteers in the Morgridge Center for Public Service

Badger Volunteers in the Morgridge Center for Public Service pairs teams of UW–Madison students with community organizations in the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea. Several years into the program, which began in 2008, the program’s staff faced significant administrative issues, including how to effectively register students, how to transport volunteers to community sites in a cost-effective manner, and how to ensure that the program met pressing community needs.

To identify more efficient procedures, cost savings and better service delivery, staff began collecting data through online end-of-semester surveys of volunteer team leaders and members and community partners. They also began calculating the cost and carbon footprint of modes of transportation used in the program and researching alternative transportation methods.

Staff addressed the inefficiency of the registration process by working with DoIT to create a custom registration system that minimized human error and freed up staff time for greater communication with Badger Volunteers leaders and community partners. Changes to transportation of volunteers have led to significant cost savings.

Tags: staff awards