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Administrative Improvement Awards recognize innovative employees and their ideas

April 21, 2020 By Alex Peirce

The UW–Madison Administrative Improvement Awards recognizing outstanding work in process, service, or delivery redesign or developments that improve efficiency or increase revenue channels, cost savings, or improve service delivery. This year, three teams and two individuals will receive the award.

Award recipients are recognized for their exceptional work in administrative roles that support the academic and research mission of the university. Recipients may support these functions directly or through their work in student services, outreach or other administrative positions.

“The Administrative Improvement Award winners demonstrate some of the most important values of our university, including collaboration, innovation and forward progress,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank says. “We should all strive to incorporate these values into our everyday work, using these award-winning teams and individuals as inspiration.”

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Laurent Heller adds, “Everyone wins when we improve the administrative processes that support life, learning, research and work on campus. All of the nominees and award winners have contributed innovative ideas that improve the level of service we’re able to provide to our students, faculty and staff, and the greater community.”

Nominees and award recipients would typically be honored in-person at a ceremony open to the campus community. However, this year’s event has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Winning individuals and teams will still receive a cash prize and the ability to apply for additional funding to support their work.

“We will miss celebrating the nominees and winners at a formal celebration this spring,” Heller says. “Thankfully, we can still recognize the increased efficiency, cost savings and customer satisfaction made possible by their hard work.”

The 2020 Administrative Improvement Award winners are:

Sarah Hart McGuinnis
Chief Financial Officer and Director of Financial Services, DoIT

Prior to 2019, multiple budget processes were in place within DoIT, including a system in which DoIT departments could internally “sell” labor to each other. This process added significant cost and complexity to DoIT’s funding model, record keeping, and budget planning. McGuinnis and her team led a significant effort to eliminate the internal chargeback system and implement a standardized internal budget allocation model.

McGuinnis and the financial services team engaged each DoIT department and university stakeholders to address questions and feedback, solve problems, review plans, and assure alignment to future financial systems at UW–Madison. Due to McGuinnis’ leadership, DoIT improved its ability to assess the costs of services, strategically allocate time and resources, and streamline budget activities with a centralized budget process.

Rachel Simonson
Human Resources Specialist, Office of Human Resources

In 2018, the UW Board of Regents passed a resolution that requires UW System institutions to include mandatory questions about sexual violence and sexual harassment in job candidate reference checks. Initially, each division was tasked with creating its own process for implementing the changes. This created some challenges with tracking campuswide compliance, and there were other general concerns about candidate experience and confidentiality. Simonson led an effort to leverage existing IT systems that could automate the reference checking process for all campus divisions.

Simonson engaged a diverse group of campus human resources representatives before launching the automated system in August 2019. The new process not only improved efficiency and tracking capabilities, but also simplified a process that could have otherwise been cumbersome to the campus HR community.

Student Information System Optimization Program Team
Eric Gentz (Office of Student Financial Aid), Will Lipske (Office of the Registrar), Kristen McRoberts (Office of Student Financial Aid), Laura Rader (Bursar’s Office), Sneha Reddy (DoIT), Brad Richardson (Office of Admissions and Recruitment), Jeremy Traska (Division of Enrollment Management), Beth Warner (Office of the Registrar), Todd Friske (DoIT)

UW-Madison signed on as a PeopleSoft beta-partner in 1997 to provide support for essential student services. Since then, the product has been heavily customized to meet the unique needs of campus. PeopleSoft’s first major upgrade in a decade, Campus Solutions 9.2, was a pivotal moment for UW–Madison to reconsider the effectiveness, cost and viability of these modifications.

The Student Information System Optimization Program Team collaborated with staff from across campus to examine the history of SIS upgrades, discuss missed opportunities, and ultimately demonstrate that Campus Solutions 9.2 is a value-add to end users. As a result of the team’s work, 43% of the 786 customizations were optimized through either removal or enhancements, and UW–Madison is better positioned as a student information system industry leader.

Combined Tuition and Housing Bill Project Team
Ginger Perkins (Bursar’s Office), Laura Rader (Bursar’s Office), Tip Vandall (Bursar’s Office), Kristen McRoberts (Office of Student Financial Aid), Sara Arnsdorf (University Housing), Susan Juncer (University Housing), Anastasia Kramper (University Housing), Laura Morris (University Housing), Amelia Roemer (University Housing), Cheryl Sewell (University Housing), Troy Suski (University Housing), David Swiderski (University Housing), Brian Ward (University Housing), Jason Chapman (DoIT), Ozzyie Chen (DoIT), Dave Marty (DoIT), Tamra Dagnon (DoIT)

Prior to Spring 2020, undergraduate students received separate bills for tuition and university housing charges. In various survey responses, parents and students have expressed a strong preference for tuition and housing charges to appear on one bill, with a single portal for online payment. The Combined Tuition and Housing Bill Project Team worked together for more than a year to develop a new system that would combine these processes.

The first set of combined bills was distributed in early January. Payments started coming in almost immediately via Cashnet, a single e-payment option. Not only is the new process expected to eliminate confusion for students and parents, it may also result in a net cost saving for campus.

Facilities Service Excellence Team
Anjali Sridharan (Physical Plant), Jam Rivetna (Physical Plant), Tony Ring (Physical Plant), Nick Gullick (Physical Plant), Patrick Leonard (Physical Plant), Nick Motl (Physical Plant), Tyler Meltesen (Physical Plant), Noah Wood (Physical Plant), Dawn Ness (Business Operations and Purchasing), Brad Schenkel (Physical Plant), Alicia Meyer (FP&M), Dave Schleif (Physical Plant)

The Facilities Service Excellence Team addressed concerns about the Facilities Planning & Management work management system, including addressing outdated processes, improving access to data and metrics, and increasing customer satisfaction.

The team selected an Integrated Workplace Management System called AssetWorks and implemented the new software last summer. AssetWorks now allows FP&M to capture more accurate, consistent and timely data. As a result, FP&M supervisors have access to real-time information about work being performed. Customer service has improved with a new interface that improves transparency of work order status and features a new billing process. FP&M also hired Facility Specialists to provide more direct interaction and improved communication with customers.

Tags: awards, employees