WMU News

Four staff members earn service excellence awards

July 28, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Four exceptional employees have received Western Michigan University's annual Staff Service Excellence Award, which comes with a $1,000 prize.

The recipients are: Jose Cardoza, a custodian in the physical plant's building, custodial and support services unit; Betsy Drummer, office coordinator for the Department of Business Information Systems; Linda Ickes, associate director of Career and Student Employment Services; and Blaine Kalafut, deputy chief of police in the Department of Public Safety.

WMU's staff awards program "puts a face on excellence" at the University by recognizing outstanding staff members--those who reach far beyond their assigned responsibilities to give generously and creatively of their time and talents.

Recipients of the prestigious annual Staff Service Excellence Awards are selected from among each year's winners of semiannual awards of the same name. In 2004, 23 staff members won semiannual awards.

They were chosen by the Staff Service Excellence Awards Program Selection Committee, which is composed of representatives from the five employee groups that sponsor the award: the Administrative Professional Association; the Professional Support Staff Organization; Michigan State Employees Association; Police Officers Association; and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In addition to cash prizes, the winners received framed certificates, will have their photos added to a display in the Siebert Administration Building and were honored at a July 14 luncheon. Summaries of comments from their nomination forms are available online at <www.wmich.edu/hr/staff_service_excellence>.

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Jose Cardoza has been a custodian at WMU since 2000. One year after joining the University, he began working in Everett Tower, a large instructional building containing classrooms, labs and faculty offices.

One nominator summed up Cardoza's overall work by simply saying "he's awesome," while another noted that his many visible and behind-the-scenes activities "improve the morale for everyone, as they instill a sense of pride in our surroundings."

Cardoza was cited for being a self-motivated hard worker who derives satisfaction from a job well done as well as for showing initiative and finding innovative ways to make sure he meets the needs of the faculty, staff and students in his building.

"It is clear that Jose takes great pride in his work and strives to achieve excellence," one nominator said. "Jose attends to tasks that others have disregarded. He takes the time to pay attention to details instead of just getting the job done."

Other nominators praised him for being considerate and sociable. They observe that he makes it a point to do his work in a manner that causes the least interruption and commented on the little things he does, such as bringing in treats on special occasions and holidays to spread some cheer.

"I am completing my 35th year here, and I have never encountered a harder working, more efficient, friendlier custodian than Jose," one nominator said. "Since he arrived in Everett Tower, the service has been superb, with every possible need anticipated and very nicely attended to."

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Betsy Drummer has been a WMU employee since 1996. She began her career in the College of Education, then joined the Department of Business Information Systems in the Haworth College of Business as a project coordinator. She was promoted to office coordinator in late 2002.

The college's former dean said Drummer has made has made an outstanding impression on the department and college in a short period of time, stepping into a role that had been problematic for some time and into a department that was in the process of reorganizing itself.

"A year later," he wrote, "the department is strong and functioning well with two autonomous academic programs, and Betsy deserves as much credit as any faculty member for this success. She sees the big picture, deals with ambiguity, and engenders confidence in faculty and staff alike."

Drummer was cited for her budget acumen, organizational abilities, and tireless efforts to ensure the success of departmental and college events. As one faculty member put it, "Betsy has earned this award by consistently delivering superb service for students and faculty."

In addition, she was lauded for her positive, upbeat personality and knack for remaining cheerful in the most trying times. "Best of all," one faculty member said, "she greets students with respect and caring. If there were an award from students for being treated with kindness, fairness and honesty, she would be a winner."

Another faculty member wrote that "Betsy is the best office coordinator that I have ever seen and I doubt that I will ever see another one like her in the rest of my life.... She is the exceptional of the exceptional staff this year."

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Linda Ickes, a WMU alumna, came to the University in 1998 as coordinator of career services in the Division of Student Affairs' Career and Student Employment Services office. In 1999, she was promoted to associate director for external affairs for the office.

According to her director, Ickes has made significant contributions to her unit, students and the University, in large part because she goes beyond her normal job duties and "consistently 'over delivers' on everything she does."

Examples include teaching classes, volunteering time and expertise to improve team work within the student affairs division, providing professional development opportunities for staff, serving on University committees, and working with area employers to secure monetary support for student-related activities.

Many nominators spoke highly of Ickes' dedication, unflagging enthusiasm, energy, and ability to impart kindness and encouragement to all. Others noted that she serves as a mentor to graduate students and helps those she supervises grow personally as well as professionally, in addition to working long hours and being a consummate problem-solver.

"I truly believe Linda deserves to be recognized for the outstanding employee that she is--day in and day out," one nominator said. "She's a superb example of why WMU is such a strong and vibrant University. No matter how many balls she' s juggling, she takes the time and puts in the effort to advance WMU and help her coworkers, students, and on- and off campus employers succeed in their own endeavors."

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Blaine Kalafut, has been a WMU employee in the Department of Public Safety since 1977. The former detective was put in charge of the Police Division's daily operations in 1996 with his promotion to deputy police chief.

As deputy chief, Kalafut garnered numerous nominations from his own employees. They repeatedly praised him as a leader, supervisor, problem-solver, supporter and morale booster who is never too busy to talk, shares information, is receptive to ideas and feedback, and works with employees to improve division efficiency.

"He will always listen to any suggestion that I might have....," one nominator wrote. "The problem solving is never one-sided. Blaine is satisfied when a solution is found that works, and he doesn't' t mind if I or another officer has thought of the solution."

Many nominators also commented on Kalafut's willingness to take on unsavory or extra work, such as good-naturedly giving himself the "worst" post when directing traffic during commencement exercises and, for the past year-and-a-half, doing detective work while one of his two detectives has been assigned to the Kalamazoo Cold Case Homicide team.

"This is most definitely beyond the call of duty," the temporarily reassigned detective wrote. "He performs two separate police jobs without complaint."

Another nominator explained it this way: "Kalafut's personal work ethic is beyond exceptional. Additionally, his rapport with, and concern for, all departmental employees makes him an outstanding and respected supervisor. His positive attitude and supervision skills are extraordinary. I can think of nobody who deserves this award more than him."

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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