FAS celebrates six staff in the prestigious 2021 President’s Outstanding Staff Awards

As part of the President’s Staff Awards, on May 12, the UT Tower was lit in honor of award recipients. Every year the university president honors staff who contribute to the institution’s success by granting 30 Outstanding Staff Awards and four Outstanding Supervisor Awards. This year six FAS staff received the prestigious Outstanding Staff Award.

Lorri Barnett, Assistant Site Director, UT Child Development Center

Barnett is an outstanding member of the UT Child Development Center (UTCDC). She is a problem solver, who thinks outside of the box and is a dedicated employee. During the COVID-19 closure of the UTCDC, Barnett recognized the importance of community and connection. Since parents were home with their children, she created a bedtime story every night at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Story time was 10 to 20 minutes, and several stories were read. This took place for months. Barnett even took the innovative step of recruiting a local meteorologist to read the children’s book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Francis Bohn, Senior Business Analyst, Project Management and Construction Services

Bohn is a proactive, thoughtful and innovative thinker who has spearheaded process improvement efforts in Project Management and Construction Services (PMCS). Starting with an initiative to document existing processes and identify opportunities for improvement in advance of implementation of a long-needed project management information software system, Bohn took the initiative to develop several solutions at no cost. These centered on collaborating with campus partners and using existing resources while delivering critical infrastructure, research and academic projects for the university.

Michael Costa, Supervisor, Facilities Services Building Logistics and Keys

An example of Costa’s drive to be as productive as possible and be a good steward of institutional funds is his recent efforts to promote coordination among Project Management and Construction Services (PMCS), Capital Projects and Construction (CPC) and Lock and Key Services regarding keying of new buildings and new renovations. Costa gave multiple presentations to PMCS and CPC Project Management teams to ensure they had a basic understanding of keying and the importance of including Lock and Key Services in the planning process. The results of Costa’s efforts are a much more streamlined process, a better understanding of processes by project managers and improved service to clients.

Irene Cuevas, Administrative Manager, Facilities Services

Cuevas’ work often positively impacts the more than 750 Facilities Services team members who clean and maintain facilities and provide landscaping services. She is the senior administrative professional in Facilities Services, managing the director’s calendar as well as identifying, defining, planning and executing a variety of process improvement projects. These projects typically require coordination with groups both inside and outside the department and many times have a positive impact on others outside of Facilities Services. Cuevas regularly provides innovative solutions to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Laramie Gordon, Employee Engagement Program Coordinator, Facilities Services

Within days of the start of the spring 2020 COVID-19 pandemic impact on the university, Gordon supported Facilities Services leadership and staff to navigate changes and pointed them to the university's resources. Most importantly, he listened to staff about their needs, keeping confidentiality when necessary, and advocated consistently for safety and mental health. His dedication to the university and its staff ensures Facilities Services staff can safely focus on service to clients. Gordon’s integrity encourages people to collaborate and support cross-departmental initiatives.

Mario Guerra, Education Technologies Senior Project Manager, ITS Campus Solutions

Although the university is a flagship, residential institution focused on face-to-face learning and holistic campus experiences, there has been a digital component to instruction dating back to the original Blackboard days. Since that time, educational technologies have played an increasingly substantial role for a large portion of the faculty and students. Guerra has been central to these important efforts, embodying the characteristics associated with this award. He has had to think and act creatively, building coalitions when this important work has not been high on campus priority lists. He has worked in a variety of units over the years, and with flexibility Guerra contributes service, expertise and an inclusive approach to sharing knowledge.

The 2021 President’s Staff Awards also recognized more than 800 employees for Service Awards ranging from 10 to 55 years. This year FAS recognized 21 employees who received a 30-year or more Service Award, including Project Management and Construction Services Technical Trades Crew Leader Quinton Simms, who has 45 years of service.

Have staff had a positive impact on your experiences at the university? Share your staff stories on your social media using #ServingUT.