Recipients of 2019 Board of Regents Staff Awards Honored

Baltimore, Md. (Sept. 20, 2019) – University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden and USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret honored winners of the 2019 USM Regents' Staff Awards at a breakfast ceremony before the September 20 meeting of the board, held at Coppin State University.

The awards honor winners’ exceptional contributions to their organizations, to students, and to the university community. Award winners are selected based on nominations and letters of support from colleagues. These nominations and letters culminate in a formal recommendation from the Council of University System Staff.

The Regents' Staff Awards represent the highest honor bestowed by the Regents for achievements of the exempt and non-exempt employees of USM institutions. Each award carries a $2,000 prize, provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation.

The following USM staff members were honored. The descriptions for each honoree are adapted from the oral remarks made by Chair Gooden and Chancellor Caret at the awards event.

Exceptional Contribution to the Institution—Exempt Staff: Rachel Brubaker, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
Rachel has spearheaded two kinds of external funding for the Dresher Center for the Humanities--for arts and humanities faculty at UMBC and for the Dresher Center itself.  Over the past five years in her position, she has supported 59 faculty members seeking funding.  She issues a regular newsletter that includes funding opportunities; she has built a reference bank of successful proposals; she coordinates with the Vice President for Research on application workshops and processes; and—most importantly—works one-on-one with the faculty. In addition, Rachel was instrumental in securing significant funding from both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation in support of the Dresher Center. As UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski has observed: “Rachel’s vision and focus have helped place UMBC at the forefront of humanities learning, teaching, and research.”

Exceptional Contribution to the Institution—Non-Exempt Staff: Margaret Gibbs, University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP)
On paper, Margaret’s position with the UMCP Counseling Center is receptionist and office supervisor.  But given that she is the first person a client speaks with and the first person a client sees, Margate truly is the “voice” and “face” of the center. Though Margaret has no professional training, she has earned the title of “Triage Counselor” from four decades of experience, her remarkable instincts, and impressive people skills. On any given day, she might respond to a suicidal student, a faculty member seeking consultation about a distressed student, or an individual requesting an off-campus referral. In the moment, she decides whether an individual can wait to see a counselor or if they should be seen immediately. Her steadiness, compassion, and good judgment are critical in making the right decisions.

Outstanding Service to Students in an Academic or Residential Environment—Exempt Staff: Dr. Lawanda Dockins-Mills, Salisbury University
 As Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Dockins-Mills has led in the creation of several programs at Salisbury University.  She designed and created Commuter Student Services, which connects those students to the campus and advocates for their needs. She devoted significant time and research into her vision for a three-day orientation program, which has now morphed into a four-day program called Orientation 102. Most notably, she initiated an expansive “door-knocking” campaign called “Building Common Ground: Students & Communities Living and Working Together.” This program helps connect thousands of students with the neighbors that share their communities in an effort to foster greater and more positive “Town-Gown” connections.  As Salisbury President Charles Wight has noted, community complaints have dropped dramatically thanks to Lawanda’s efforts to foster on-going dialogue and address potential problems.

Outstanding Service to Students in an Academic or Residential Environment—Non-Exempt Staff: Valencia Tirado, UMCP
Valencia brings a unique approach to the North Campus Diner when it comes to assisting students with special dietary requirements. She developed what is known as “The Wall,” which shows both any dietary restrictions students have and their taste preferences.  This approach ensures the safety of students, who could have a life-threatening reaction if their dietary needs are not met to the absolute letter. The approach also provides them with meals they enjoy.
 “The Wall” has been adopted as a model for special diet guests at other campus dining units.  As one parent noted in a letter to President Loh, Valencia is the only other person ever to cook for her severely allergic son. Her level of care literally make it possible for her son to live away from home.

Extraordinary Public Service to the University or to the Greater Community—Exempt Staff: Larry Hennessey, UMBC
Larry’s primary responsibility is in design and construction services, oversight of planning, scheduling, and execution of construction projects. But he is also dedicated to supporting environmental causes and projects at UMBC. Larry volunteers with the Environmental Task Force (ETF), which seeks to inspire students to act on sustainability issues through service-based activities, including weekly stream cleanups, invasive plant removal, and planting native species in the forest along campus streams.  As a dedicated conservationist, Larry provides leadership in instructing ETF volunteers and new students in the significance and environmental context of these natural spaces and regarding UMBC’s role and responsibilities as part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  In addition to working with the students each week, Larry also supplies tools, gloves, and carts—becoming the unofficial staff sponsor and advocate for the ETF.

Extraordinary Public Service to the University or to the Greater Community—Non-Exempt Staff: Bridgette Karalewitz, Frostburg State University (FSU)
A member of FSU’s Student Support Services team, Bridgette is also a Lions Club member and was instrumental in forming the FSU Student Lions Club—The Guiding Lion. Bridgette is key in recruiting members and providing support and advice to the students. She has brought her wealth of service leadership to the campus community by organizing the first ever Lions Strides for Diabetes Walk.  In addition, the FSU Lions have volunteered with many organizations, including the local animal shelter.  Most notably, Bridgette was the catalyst behind the FSU Food Pantry. She elevated awareness of food inadequacy, developing the policy and procedures manual, meeting with area food banks, and working to get shelving and bags for the new food pantry.  As President Roland Nowaczyk observed, “Bridgette’s efforts in connecting students to the community have provided a win-win environment.”

Effectiveness and Efficiency—Exempt Staff: James Brown, Coppin State University (CSU)
James demonstrated genuine leadership and creativity to convert an old and unused TV studio into CSU’s Theatre Lab Black Box performance and classroom space. He found a vendor and acquired discounted, gently used chairs. He worked to get a donation of fabric for the Stage Curtain, designed the set and the lobby space, and constructed and installed the sound system. He constructed the monitors for the booth, and initiated negotiations with Facilities Management, securing $86,000 for enhancements to the lighting system.  All in all, James saved some $40,000 with these steps.  In the words of former Coppin State President Maria Thompson, “James created a space for thought-provoking theatrical performances, a place to encourage intimate follow up discussions, and a perfect environment for instruction and learning.”

Effectiveness and Efficiency—Exempt Staff: Celso Guitian, UMBC
As UMBC was developing its 2018 Facilities Master Plan, it was estimated that if the institution went with the usual—and costly—practice of hiring external consultants to perform this work, the cost would be about $500,000.  Instead, Celso proposed that UMBC leverage his own professional expertise in architecture and urban planning and complete the project in-house. After reviewing his thoughtful and detailed proposal, UMBC’s Facilities Management and University Leadership teams signed off on Celso’s plan. The process of completing the 2018 Facilities Master Plan went forward as an in-house project. As a result of Celso’s thoughtful proposal and willingness to spearhead this massive undertaking, UMBC saved $500,000. In addition, this administrative transformation could serve as a best practice for other universities, potentially saving millions of dollars across the USM.

Inclusion, Multiculturalism, & Social Justice—Exempt Staff: Jess Myers, UMBC
As Director of the Women’s Center at UMBC, Jess’s work focuses on advocating for intersectional feminist viewpoints; critical sexuality and gender awareness; and anti-racist perspectives.  She seeks to move those perspectives from the margins to the mainstream of campus life. Social justice and the full inclusion of women are often denied or hampered in subtle ways that can also intersect with race, ethnicity, culture, class, and sexual misconduct.  Jess's feminist social justice commitment brings all these issues to the fore for critical examination in her work with and on behalf of women from all backgrounds in support of UMBC's university-wide commitment to inclusive excellence.  She has worked diligently over many years to build relationships and multi- dimensional programs that include all women. Her experience, knowledge, and advocacy are invaluable guides for UMBC.

Inclusion, Multiculturalism, & Social Justice—Non-Exempt Staff: Jayne French, Towson University
Jayne is truly dedicated to inclusion, multiculturalism, and social justice for the community, both on and off campus. In addition to Jayne’s accomplished work in the Center for Student Diversity, she volunteers her time with many external organizations, including Special Olympics of Maryland, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Active Coalition for Transitional Services (a transitional housing program for women who have been victimized by domestic violence), and the NAACP. She is currently serving on the board of the Baltimore County African American Cultural Festival. As noted by President Kim Schatzel, “Jayne has exemplified an extraordinary commitment to our diversity and inclusion effort in the work she does both on and off campus.”  

Five years ago, Jayne won a Board of Regents Staff Award in the category of Extraordinary Public Service to the University or to the Greater Community. She is the first person ever to win two USM Board of Regents Staff Awards.


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719