Staff honored at 2021 Excellence Awards virtual event

Five staff members were honored at the 2021 Staff Excellence Awards, which took place virtually this morning.

Four staff members were honored with the Excellence in University Service Award and one staff member was honored with the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award.

Excellence in University Service Awards
The Excellence in University Service Awards recognize staff members who have contributed to the essential work of Marquette at the highest levels. The following are the 2021 recipients for Excellence in University Service:

  • Mary C. Czech-Mrochinski, senior director for public affairs in the Office of Public Affairs
  • Jeanne E. Ezzell, assistant director of tutorial programs for Student Educational Services
  • Erik J. Hendrickson, project manager for Information Technology Services
  • Jeffrey F. Kranz, assistant chief of police for the Marquette University Police Department
  • Kathleen A. Kugi-Tom, project manager for the Department of Facilities Planning and Management

Paul Jones, vice president and general counsel, presented the first award to Mary Czech-Mrochinski. Jones noted that having grown up on Marquette’s campus, Czech-Mrochinski “bleeds blue and gold.” He highlighted her traits of humor, empathy and kindness that constantly lift up her colleagues. While accepting the award, Czech-Mrochinski described the importance of Marquette throughout her entire life, from her father working as a professor, to her and her husband experiencing campus together and her two children now making their own stories here.

Czech-Mrochinski thanked her colleagues, saying “Everyday I suit up for Marquette as if it’s game day. You know who you are if you’ve been a teammate in the show with me.”

The second award was presented by John Baworowsky, vice president of enrollment management, to Jeanne Ezzell. He described the virtual tutor training that Ezzell devised this past summer, which was recognized as an innovative best practice by the Wisconsin College Learning Center Association. Baworowsky also commended Ezzell for her creativity, approachability, sense of humor and mentoring abilities.

Baworowsky said, “Jeanne is the epitome of a lifelong learner, and she embodies cura personalis in all she does with students.”

Ezzell expressed the significance that Marquette has had in her life. Her father was a professor, and she attended the university along with her nine siblings. She met her husband on campus and they have gone on to watch three of their own five children graduate from Marquette. She conveyed thanks to her colleagues past and present, specifically to her current team in the Office of Student Educational Services who “entertain all of her crazy ideas.”

Laurie Panella, chief information officer, presented the next award to Erik Hendrickson. Panella talked about the enormous impact Hendrickson has made on campus with his role in numerous large projects like the design and implementation of the nursing SIM lab, COVID Cheq and his support of construction efforts like The Commons.

A Marquette grad himself, Hendrickson spoke about his perspective as a student and employee, which he said “made one thing very clear, Marquette is a special place. And when I think about why it’s a special place, it’s simple: it’s the people.” He further shared that receiving this award means even more in a year where “seeing co-workers go above and beyond has almost become the norm.” Hendrickson thanked his wife and two daughters for their constant support.

The next award recipient, Assistant Chief of Marquette University Police Department Jeff Kranz was introduced by Edith Hudson, MUPD chief of police. Hudson commended Kranz for his tireless work throughout the past year to keep the campus safe throughout the pandemic.

Kranz recognized three groups that he felt deserved gratitude and thanks for their work: the Marquette University Police Department, the university COVID-19 response team and the Recovery Team. Kranz applauded their work in guiding the community through the many unique challenges of the past year and “creating a roadmap to recovery where no roads existed.”

Lora Strigens, vice president for planning and facilities management, presented the final Excellence in University Service award to Kathleen Kugi-Tom. Strigens noted that the recognition represents the leadership that Kugi-Tom has modeled every day at work.

Strigens said, “Kathy approaches each project with care for the stakeholders in mind. She continually advocates for the best solution for the university no matter the circumstances.”

Kugi-Tom first came to Marquette as a graduate student and then began working for the university. She thanked all the contractors, architects, designers and vendors she has worked with on projects through the years. “Teamwork has been the best component of this job,” she said.

She also thanked her husband and three children, who are always there when she needs support.

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award

Marquette’s Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award was established to recognize one faculty member and one staff member who demonstrate exemplary leadership and has shown an ability to put the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion into action.

The 2021 staff recipient of the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award is Dr. Juanita (Terrie) Garcia, project coordinator for the College of Nursing.

Dr. William Welburn, vice president for inclusive excellence, presented the award to Garcia. Welburn shared that Garcia was one of the first people he met on campus, and in their first meeting she told him about her Project BEYOND program, which he has since watched flourish.

Garcia thanked Dr. Janet Krejci and Dr. Leona VandeVusee for nominating her. She also gave special thanks to the Project BEYOND-2 team.

“My life experiences exposed me to the challenges of succeeding in an educational system that was not prepared to address the multidimensional needs that first generation minority students often face.  As a professional who has been supported by others to develop into a leader, I know the value in giving back to others,” Garcia said.

After the final award, Joel Pogodzinski, senior vice president and chief operating officer, offered some closing remarks. Pogodzinski explained that this past year, “excellence” meant something more. Staff members were faced with new projects and challenges in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. He thanked the amazing staff for their seamless pivoting which made it possible to get through the past year.

Dr. Kimo Ah Yun, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, echoed Pogodzinski’s thanks to the entire faculty and staff. “We could have chosen four times as many winners with all of the great nominations we received about staff who went above and beyond to serve our students during this extraordinary year,” he said.

President Michael R. Lovell closed the event by first recognizing the 2020 award recipients who were unable to gather and celebrate their achievements in person:

  • Steve Frieder, senior advisor to the president
  • Neelima Tummala, assistant director of systems for the Office of Finance
  • Stacy Tuchel, office associate for the Office of Marketing and Communication
  • Deb Weaver, administrative assistant for undergraduate programs and department inquiries, Department of Biological Sciences, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences
  • Mary Minson, senior assistant dean of advising in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences

President Lovell emphasized that their contributions to the community continue to bring the university’s mission to life. He went on to reaffirm the excellence of each award recipient, speaking about each winner and offering his thanks.

“Your work encapsulates our pillars of excellence, faith, leadership and service in the deepest sense. I am grateful that you continue to share their drive, passion, expertise and selflessness with all of us every day,” President Lovell said.

President Lovell closed the ceremony with a video tribute to all the staff who have made sacrifices and persevered to get through the past year.

Watch the full event online.