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Five classified staff members recognized with ‘09 awards

April 23, 2009 By Ellen Page

Five members of the classified staff will be honored with Classified Employee Recognition Awards during a ceremony on Wednesday, April 29.

Honorees are:



Dale Burke

Assistant chief, University Police Department

Burke first joined the university as a security officer in 1979, rising through the ranks from police officer to sergeant to lieutenant to captain and to assistant chief. When the Police and Security Department became the University Police in the late 1980s, Burke embraced the new proactive philosophy, writes his nominator, Chief Susan Riseling.

As the campus struggled with a homeless population, writes Riseling, Burke helped people find housing and rehabilitation. He volunteered with Transitional Housing, helped raise funds and mentored people transitioning from unemployed and homeless lives. Because of Burke’s work, the department was recognized by the state attorney general and nationally by the Police Executive Research Forum.

Once Burke was promoted to sergeant in the 1990s, he became responsible for operating a shift of police officers, inspiring a generation of police officers to become community police officers assigned geographically, starting with one and increasing to four in the department. He also inspired liaison programs with Athletics, the Ten Percent Society, the campus Women’s Center and all residence halls, writes Riseling.

Burke also served with the UW Foundation’s campaign “Create the Future From Within,” which raised $77 million. He also works on a UW Foundation committee for the current “Great People. Great Place.” campaign.

“Earlier in his career, he stood on post working protests and demonstrations, large events and concerts,” writes Riseling. “Later in his career, he commanded officers handling protests and demonstrations, commanding them for Mifflin Street and Halloween. Dale does it with calm and steadfast leadership.”

Dale Burke, assistant chief in the University Police Department, facilitates a leadership workshop for department officers and personnel. Burke is a recipient of a 2009 Classified Employee Recognition Award.



Diane Dennis

University services program associate, Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts

As the primary program assistant for the Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts for nearly 20 years, Dennis works on literature programming at area libraries, retirement centers, service clubs and prisons; radio documentaries; and lecture series.

Dennis also works in Spanish outreach and writing, helps manage grants, generates brochures and other publicity, coordinates audio-visual equipment, processes invoices and helps a variety of nontraditional students.

Recently, Dennis has acted as coordinator of the Odyssey Project, a free college humanities course for adults near the poverty level. “She definitely helps to project a positive image of the university to the many students, family members and community members who take part in this South Madison program,” writes nominator Emily Auerbach, a professor in the Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts. “So many Odyssey students and members of our community who meet the university through their contact with Diane have told me what a poised, compassionate and competent person she is and how much this has meant to them.”

Dennis works to put the Wisconsin Idea into action with the Odyssey Project by finding new venues for programs, generating materials for programs and seeking new grants for funding. “I get the awards and accolades, yet it honestly is Diane who deserves much of the credit,” writes Auerbach. “She deserves an award for her excellent, innovative and important work.

“Her work goes above and beyond anything that is expected of her in her position,” Auerbach adds. “Although her job description says nothing about (the Odyssey Project), she serves as a listening ear to at-risk students, a go-to person for questions of all sorts and a spokesperson for the project wherever she goes. Diane Dennis is a stellar public servant.”



Joni Mitchell

University services associate 2, School of Pharmacy

Mitchell began working for the School of Pharmacy in 1982 as part of the school’s secretarial typing pool, and in 1993 was appointed secretary of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division, where she would provide support to the chair and 25 faculty. She works with the chair and vice chairs on many confidential matters, including exams, tenure packages and faculty award applications, and she receives accolades for her management and organization skills from many colleagues.

Mitchell coordinates the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division Seminar, which is a fall and spring series. She is responsible for all logistical arrangements for about 25 outside speakers each year, including travel, lodging, itineraries and publicity. She also has assisted with faculty search committees by maintaining recruitment files, supporting committee work and scheduling candidates’ interviews.

Mitchell is a resource on school and university policies and in office software within the School of Pharmacy, becoming a go-to person on WiscCal and offering assistance on travel-reimbursement processing. She also is a member of the school’s Occupant Emergency Plan group.

Outside the office, Mitchell is involved in community service in the Deforest/Morrisonville area, where she supports DeForest High School. Back on campus, she also regularly volunteers to assist with classified search committees and offers her time to other units within the School of Pharmacy.

“She embodies a very special kind of ‘Badger Spirit’ … based on giving of oneself to enhance UW,” writes nominator Richard Peterson, a professor in the School of Pharmacy.



Justin Richardson

University conference coordinator, School of Music

Since joining the university in 2001, Richardson has handled all facilities issues and is building manager for the Mosse Humanities Building. “Humanities has one of the highest rates of crime on the entire campus,” writes nominator Tina Hunter, academic department manager in the School of Music. “Between the design of the building, its size and its thousands of occupants on any given day, Justin holds an immensely busy and responsible position.”

The building hosts approximately 350 concerts and performances each year, and it’s Richardson’s job to keep the building and facilities as pleasant and appealing as possible. He works to ensure the best sound quality for semiprofessional and professional recordings; coordinates stage setups, equipment preparation, security, lighting and personnel assignment; and coordinates off-site events.

“Performance after performance goes off without a hitch,” writes Hunter.

Richardson also looks for ways to make the Humanities Building more manageable and to improve services for students, staff and visitors. He has helped implement an automated procedure for managing practice-room and locker use; designed and implemented computerized database and storage systems for practice-room keys and other keys for increased security and efficiency; and manages approximately 24 student workers. He also is a member of Badger Watch, is vice president of the board of directors for WORT and is a past board member of the Madison Brass Band.

“Justin exhibits leadership and competence in every act,” writes Hunter. “Justin’s example helps others to feel better and to put their faith in him, and he never fails them.”



Coreen Williams

Program assistant supervisor advanced, Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP)

Williams is responsible for, among other things, handling travel and accommodations for the more than 300 people the institute invites to its conferences each year, handling requests, logistics and schedules with “great raves” from those she assists, writes nominator Tim Smeeding, director of the institute.

“Her efforts are critical in making IRP conferences and speaking invitations something that many researchers and administrators from around the world look forward to receiving,” Smeeding writes.

As conference coordinator, Williams developed a standard form for faculty who are considering holding a conference, making planning more efficient. She has worked with the UW Foundation to make IRP more visible on the Web and to send fundraising letters to everyone who has been employed at IRP during its 42-year history. Williams also was recognized campuswide for her problem-solving efforts with the new Employment Certification Reporting Technology system, now serving on a panel of coordinators that demonstrates best practices in effort reporting for other campus units.

She is a member of the Campus Reaccreditation steering committee, is chair-elect of the Council for Nonrepresented Classified Staff, co-chair of the council’s communication/selection committee and is the council’s newsletter editor.

“Coreen gets so much done with such a pleasant disposition and without appearing to be under any stress that she is a delight to be around in the workplace,” writes Smeeding. “When given even a huge task that would intimidate most of us, she just quietly takes notes and then somehow accomplishes it without drawing undue attention to the task or her responsibility for it. Wouldn’t every manager or supervisor like someone like that?”

Tags: staff awards