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Five named winners of Classified Employee Recognition Awards

May 17, 2012 By

Photo: Michael Hansen

Michael Hansen, restoration project coordinator at the UW Arboretum, removes invasive plants from surrounding native species. Hansen is one of five recipients of a 2012 Classified Employee Recognition Award.

Photos: Bryce Richter

Five members of UW–Madison’s classified staff have been chosen to receive 2012 Classified Employee Recognition Awards.

Mark Walters, director of classified human resources, says the nomination committee was challenged in choosing winners this year because of the quality of those nominated.

“All of the employees nominated were deserving but the committee could only select five,” Walters says. “Those employees who were ultimately selected can be held up as excellent examples of individuals going above and beyond their normal job responsibilities.”

Here are the five employees who will be honored at a reception this summer:

Photo: Rosana Perez-Ellmann


Rosana Perez-Ellmann, Academic Department Manager, Department of Chemistry, College of Letters and Science

Rosana Perez-Ellmann joined the chemistry department about three years ago following a stint in a senior management position at Lands End.

“In that short period of time she has transformed our business office and, indeed, our entire methodology in terms of personnel evaluation throughout the department,” James Weisshaar, department chair, said in the award nomination.

“She has the entire operation running very smoothly and she is developing a ‘farm team’ of excellent workers who can move into higher positions as they open up. She raises the level of everyone’s game – faculty and staff alike,” Weishaar added.

“Absolutely outstanding,” “fantastic,” and “exceptional” are words that have been used to describe Perez-Ellmann’s job performance. She thinks deeply about how to enhance the department’s performance in all areas involving faculty, students and staff.

“She leads by example and by her outcome-based management ideas. She makes everyone around her a better worker by demonstrating her commitment to excellence every day, in every situation,” said Weisshaar.

She is credited with leading the way toward creation of the department’s new board of directors – a group of highly successful business people from companies most interested in the department’s graduates. She has made creative contributions to the department’s outreach and fundraising efforts.

Professor Robert Hamers said Perez-Ellmann is an out-of-the-box thinker who has transformed the department by substantially increasing efficiency, productivity and the level of service provided, while improving the overall climate throughout the department.

She serves on the Campus Climate and Diversity Committee and on a review committee for hiring department administrators across campus. She is also a volunteer on her department’s Partners in Giving team.

Off campus, she has been active in the Madison schools, working with them to develop technology grants, and she has organized an event to obtain winter hats and mittens for school children who need them.

Photo: Micha


Michael Hansen, Restoration Project Coordinator, UW Arboretum, Graduate School

Michael Hansen combines his professional and thoughtful way of working with staff, students and volunteers with his deep knowledge of restoration ecology and land management practices to get crucial work done collaboratively.

Mark Wegener, assistant director of the Arboretum, says Hansen approaches his own learning and extensive on-the-land teaching with a belief that questions and curiosity are integral to practicing ecology.

“He has substantially increased our capacity to manage 1,700 acres of UW Arboretum lands in Madison and at our other properties around the state,” Wegener said in his nomination of Hansen.

Hansen is creative in coordinating with colleagues and volunteers to manage the land effectively. He is never too busy to teach others and his advocacy for greater collaboration with neighbors and conservation organizations is significant.

He was a co-author of the Arboretum’s first-ever application for an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team, which was successful. Thanks in large part to his leadership on submitting a new application, the Arboretum will host another AmeriCorps NCCC team this year.

Hansen initiated and supervises the Habitat Restoration Team, a volunteer crew that removes invasive plants, prepares areas for prescribed burns, sows native plant seeds, improves firebreaks and more. Nearly 270 people have volunteered  and contributed more than 2,000 hours of service.

“Michael makes volunteering a good experience for people,” said Wegener. “He trains people to do the job at hand, explains why it matters, and willingly shares his deep knowledge of restoration and ecology with them.”

A student volunteer said Hansen is a superb ambassador who makes values volunteers.

Hansen serves on the board and committees of the Wisconsin Prescribed Fire Council and he participates in private ecological restoration projects.

“The land itself, as well as the people who care for, learn from, and are inspired by it, are all enriched by Michael Hansen’s exemplary work at the Arboretum,” said Wegener.

Photo: Teresa Legler


Teresa Legler, Medical Program Assistant Senior, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, School of Medicine and Public Health

Teresa Legler’s daily duties include constant and effective communications with patients, family members, referring physicians and co-workers. Her caring and positive attitude brings comfort to ill patients and their families.

“She represents and promotes the overall excellent reputation of the cardiothoracic surgery program and promotes excellence by demonstrating an impeccable work ethic,” said Dr. Takushi Kohmoto, her nominator.

“Whether she is helping a patient, organizing a consult or operation, or implementing an improvement in the division, she consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty,” added Kohmoto.

Her co-workers appreciate her collegiality and her genuine personal concern for their job satisfaction and growth, as well as her receptiveness to suggestions and her initiative in implementing improvements.

She is always up for new challenges and last summer when her division was tasked with the development of a Pediatric Cardiac Surgery program, she expressed interest in it.

She was chosen to assist the high-profile program because of her extensive knowledge of UW Hospital and Clinics and her compassionate and effective approach working with families of sick children.

Legler plays an important role in facilitating post-doctoral training within the division and serves as an administrator for the Cardiothoracic Residency Program. She independently manages resident interviews, reviews, meetings and graduation components of the program.

She creates a personal handmade memory book for each graduating resident. It includes photos and quotes that highlight their unique Madison experience.

 “She has the keen ability to switch gears and readjust at a moment’s notice in the ever-changing world of CT, without losing productivity,” said Kathleen Smith, program manager for cardiothoracic surgery.

Legler has been a certified medical assistant and emergency medical technician for 30 years, and the skills and instincts she developed in those roles provide her with a unique knowledge among other members of her department’s support staff.

Photo: Rosanne Richgels


Rosanne Richgels, University Services Program Assistant 3, Department of Engineering Professional Development, College of Engineering

Rosanne Richgels provides an example for others to follow “in how to recreate and effectively deliver support services to learners and instructors in these new strategically vital online learning environments,” said Phil O’Leary, chair of Engineering Professional Development.

“Her direct work with students and her efforts behind the scenes have played a pioneering, critical role in launching the first two web-based graduate degree programs for the College of Engineering and the university,” O’Leary added in Richgels’ award nomination.

In 1988, she took on the challenge of developing and supporting the Master of Engineering in Professional Practice (MEPP) degree program and in 2003 she leveraged her experience to support the new Master of Engineering in Engineering Engine Systems (MEES) degree program.

“Today she continues to support the MEPP program and several EPD program directors in the development and coordination of engineering continuing education opportunities, including short courses and certificate programs,” said O’Leary.

Richgels has been an integral player in establishing the reputation of UW–Madison and the College of Engineering as one of the best providers of world-class graduate distance education, which was recognized early this year by U.S. News & World Report.

Her central front-line position demands flexibility and responsiveness to meet the changing, often unpredictable needs of students and faculty.

Wayne Pferdehirt, director of Graduate Engineering Distance Degree Programs, says Richgels sets the bar for the quality of service to students, faculty, alumni and fellow staff that will enable UW–Madison to grow its online degrees and courses while maintaining its well-deserved national reputation for excellence.

 “As the university expands its online education programs, Rose provides a model of capable, committed, proactive service to students studying at a distance and faculty teaching from anywhere their travels take them,” said Jeffrey Russell, vice provost for lifelong learning and dean of continuing studies.

Photo: Jeff Savoy


Jeff Savoy, Information Services Consultant Confidential, Office of Campus Information Security, Department of Information Technology

Jeff Savoy’s work is highly regarded and he has an excellent reputation in his field – digital forensics.

“Jeff is a vital partner in much that we do, from investigating sensitive personnel matters, responding to public records requests, instituting litigation holds, testifying at hearings, resolving computer breech situations to providing us with training on a variety of computer-related issues,” wrote Lisa Rutherford, director of the Office of Administrative Legal Services, in her nomination of Savoy.

“Jeff has been described as priceless, and I could not agree more,” said Rutherford. “I am extremely grateful that he continues to share his talents with the UW–Madison community.”

Savoy’s skills as an in-house forensic expert have been extremely valuable in successfully handling numerous sensitive matters on behalf of the university. Years ago, his work on a computer hacking case targeting the computer systems of the university and several major California companies became the foundation for student discipline and criminal prosecution.

“Jeff is always professional, helpful and quick to respond to any request for assistance,” noted Jim Lowe, chief information security officer in the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

“People who work with Jeff regularly say that we are fortunate to have someone of his caliber working at the university,” Lowe added.

UW Police Detective Doug Scheller, who specializes in computer forensics and Internet-related crimes, says Savoy has developed a keen awareness of the intricacies involved in balancing university interests, legal and privacy issues, and protecting the rights of UW–Madison students, faculty and staff.

“He has a remarkable ability to explain and help others understand the many very technical issues that arise in our investigations,” Scheller said.

Scheller says Savoy also shows remarkable poise, is a willing listener, and is very patient and persistent.

“He has repeatedly demonstrated his loyalty and professionalism working for the university and is a treasured asset of this fine school,” said Scheller.

Tags: staff awards