A Season for Gratitude

A Season for Gratitude

Published: December 20, 2020 5:22 pm

It goes without saying that the past year has been like no other. Our faculty and staff have shown tremendous resolve and resilience through unprecedented challenges, and many have taken on extra work or applied their creativity in extraordinary ways to ensure the success of our departments, colleges and the university. Thank you to all of these exceptional individuals and teams who have shared their gifts and made a difference at the University of Florida this year.


Meghan Froman
Program Administrator – UF HIV & TB Research Training Program, Department of Medicine – Division of Infectious Diseases & Global Medicine

Meghan is managing UF Screen-Test-Protect, in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here at the Phillips Center and Cultural Plaza (just one of many testing sites), Meghan has delivered:

  • Expert, skillful, effective organization of a large-scale program, on short notice, drawing on and coordinating resources across many UF units (UF Health, UF Public Safety, UF Facilities Services, UF Human Resources, UF Student Affairs, O’Connell Center, Phillips Center . . .);
  • Rapid, as-needed problem-solving and implementation across many sites across UF campus and statewide, calling for work round the clock and seven days a week – for months;
  • Unfailingly professional, collegial, cheerful, effective, and supportive collaboration above and beyond even the extraordinary needs of the large-scale task assigned to her;
  • Extraordinary results, with 25,000+ and counting UF community members tested, plus added delivery of flu vaccines.

The phrase “grace under pressure” comes to mind.

— Matt Cox


Matt Walser
Physician Assistant and Affiliate Faculty, Physical Therapy, College of Public Health and Health Professions

Matt has delivered on-site organization and supervision of the Cultural Plaza testing site (among multiple testing sites around UF campus) for UF Screen-Test-Protect, in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. From my vantage point coordinating with Matt’s work, I have observed:

  • Expert coordination with the large number of UF units supporting the effort (UF Health, UF Public Safety, UF Facilities Services, UF Transportation and Parking, UF Information Technology, UF Human Resources, UF Student Affairs, O’Connell Center, Phillips Center . . .);
  • Energetic, quick-on-his-feet, effective management of a large and varied on-site team in improvised configurations at the Phillips Center (indoors and outside at the nearby parking garage), ensuring effective and safe work;
  • Reliably professional, collegial, proactive, communicative, effective, and supportive work above and beyond even the extraordinary needs of the constant flow of testing each and every day;
  • Creative, daily on-site problem solving, every day, including weekends and holidays, adjusting and coordinating as needed and on short notice;
  • Extraordinary results, with 25,000+ and counting UF community members tested.

Not only has he handled extraordinary responsibility and a tremendous volume of work with great impact, he has been throughout a pleasure to work with.

— Matt Cox

Matt Walser, PA-C, has worked tirelessly since April to help Meghan Froman develop and maintain the COVID-19 testing garage at the Performing Arts Center. We all experienced the well thought out and smooth running of this testing site when students, faculty and staff returned to campus and as we continue to be tested.

Matt has worked many long hours keeping this effort organized and running smoothly, putting his heart and soul into this endeavor. Because he is behind the scenes, few on campus know about him or realize the amount of energy and enthusiasm he has put into his work.

— Sheryl Heinicka


Jerne Shapiro and the Disease Investigators
Department of Epidemiology, PHHP

Jerne Shapiro and all of the disease investigators, working in concert with Mike Lauzardo, have guided the Screen, Test, and Protect efforts with grace and expertise, helping to keep our students, employees and community members safer.  How fortunate we are to have UF Health expertise in many ways available to us and, for these individuals, in particular, for the incredible amount of time, care, and concern that they have invested in One UF over the past many months. Their work, of course, has been complemented by the leadership demonstrated by key UF administrators like Charlie Lane, Joe Glover and Dave Nelson, along with IT, HR, Student Affairs, and Enrollment Management professionals who all have spent countless hours. As difficult as this year has been, there have been many, many employees who have risen to the occasion.  It’s an incredible thing to see and to be a part of, and for that, I am grateful.

— Jodi Gentry


Southeastern National TB Center
College of Medicine

Team SNTC

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Southeastern National TB Center (SNTC), led by Dr. Mike Lauzardo, supported the testing efforts for at-risk communities throughout the UF region. The team went store to store in search of swabs and PPE. They developed online training to teach proper swabbing technique, solicited and scheduled the volunteer force, coordinated drive-thru and walk-up testing sites, and managed test result data. The team also provided administrative support during the early days of the UF Health Screen Test and Protect (STP) program. From budgets to personnel to space and equipment acquisition, they worked alongside the leaders of the STP program. SNTC developed training to prepare UF disease investigators for their work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The team offered expertise to assist in UF’s COVID response and worked tirelessly to support and serve others in need.

— Donna Setzer


Kathryn Desear

Kathryn Desear and Clinical Infectious Diseases Pharmacists
College of Pharmacy

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Kate had the foresight to assemble a team for review of emerging literature and therapeutics. She lead a weekly conference with our other College of Pharmacy infectious diseases pharmacists and our infectious diseases physicians. She also helped to orchestrate a weekly journal club dissecting this emerging literature so that therapeutic decisions could be made in real time. This was a time when the literature was being released so rapidly that decisions needed to be made same day since our patients and physicians were engaged in the news and would need guidance. This required many nights revising treatment guidance overnight and providing patient care decisions well past working hours. Kate periodically reported back to our teams using custom-made reports on the usage of off-label medications for the treatment of SARS-CoV2.

Then, most significantly, when remdesivir was granted “Emergency Use Authorization,” Kate orchestrated and implemented a process to fairly allocate this to our patients by assembling team of experts including an ethicist, physicians and pharmacists. This new process for remdesivir usage required our ID pharmacists (1.7 FTEs) to review every single patient admitted with SARS-CoV2 for inclusion into the complete review process. It cannot be overstated the amount of time this took daily. Our ID pharmacists both worked well past 40 hours weekly to complete this daily review, communicate to providers, assist with order entry, and monitor patients daily.

Kate also developed a code that transformed data into meaningful categorizations of patients for treatment decisions on the use of remdesivir. The final step was importing this transformed data into a sophisticated REDCap tool Kate created. This REDCap tool was used for patient documentation and allocation decisions.

Her effort significantly increased the number of patients we were able to review daily and allowed for us to continue some of our important work outside of COVID-19, including the stewardship of our antimicrobial resources and assisting care teams around the hospital in the selection of appropriate antimicrobial regimens. She used a truly novel approach that represented a significant work effort far exceeding expectations for her position.

— Kartikeya Cherabuddi


Accessioning and Core Lab Staff

Part of the COVID Testing Team in a Rosie the Riveter pose

UF Health Pathology & UFH Pathology Laboratories Teams

I am thankful for the team at UF Health Pathology & UFH Pathology Laboratories.  Ever since early March when we were tasked by Dr. Nelson to bring up COVID testing in a week, the team has been at a different level.  We met that lofty goal, and received new goals.  The lab now supports COVID testing across the UF Health system, including the 4 hospital labs.

If something goes wrong, or a lab needs help, UFH Pathology Laboratories is the backup plan.  In the summer, UF needed testing to safely bring people back to campus.  As the fall semester approached, UF needed more testing.  Each new challenge was put to the team, and the collective will of the team has met these challenges.  The faculty and staff of the laboratory have been amazing in their response to the pandemic.  Next up is the spring semester surge, the lab is ready.

— Mike Joshi-Guske


Nicole Iovine

Dr. Iovine was thoughtful and careful, taking time to review multiple sample face masks and providing feedback to ensure UF selected the right style of face masks for use in the academic enterprise (as opposed to a health care setting) to keep the UF community safe.

— Lisa Deal


UFIT Classroom Support

The UFIT Classroom Support team has undertaken a truly gargantuan task in outfitting all registrar classrooms with HyFlex or HyFlex+ technologies. This undertaking includes hundreds of classrooms with over half a dozen technologies in each. This team often works in the background to keep classroom technologies operating smoothly and supporting faculty across our institution, and they deserve all the recognition and thanks we can provide them.

— Shannon Dunn

 


Ron Berry
Director, Student Health Care Center

A new director, Dr. Berry, stepped into the COVID-19 pandemic while still trying to get his arms around the SHCC organization. Not only did he navigate the safe care of UF students at SHCC, he served on many COVID-19 campus and UF Health meetings preparing and executing the testing of students. He quickly changed processes to screen students prior to entering SHCC to prevent the spread of infection to other patients and employees and taking possibly infected students to a designated team for care or telehealth visit.

While doing this huge task, he also planned for a new SHCC bldg. the first since 1931. My, how we’ve changed! Dr. Berry, aka Mr. Rogers because of his kind approach, successfully set up SHCC, UF and the community for a safe future.

— Toni Ratliff

 


Nathalie Turenne

Nathalie Turenne
Area Coordinator – Murphree Area Housing and Residence Life

During a team member’s paternity leave that impacted a critical time in Residence Life, Nathalie demonstrated superhuman ability to manage two on-campus housing areas through the stress and worry of COVID-19 and respective policy changes. Nathalie’s presence and availability helped these brand-new teams transition smoothly into the Fall semester.

While this additional work was necessary and “somebody had to do it,” Nathalie consistently negated personal time on nights and weekends to ensure success in her efforts; she didn’t take this responsibility lightly. Although exhausted, she maintained a great attitude about serving the department in this important role. I am grateful.

— Temetria Hargett

 


Center for Quality Medication Management
Test and Trace Program, College of Pharmacy

The Center for Quality Medication Management (CQM) in the College of Pharmacy was asked in March 2020 to assist the Health Science Center and The University of Florida in their growing need to provide COVID-19 testing, especially in helping faculty, staff, and students in scheduling a testing appointment. CQM worked closely with representatives from UF Health IT and UF IT to create effective processes for scheduling a test. At its peak, CQM handled over 1,000 calls per day in both English and Spanish assisting UF and UF Health personnel in getting tested for COVID-19. CQM was also responsible for working closely with the UAA in scheduling all personnel for testing. In April 2020, CQM’s role was elevated and they became a resource center for all UF, UF Health, and UAA personnel who had questions or concerns about the testing process. The experience and expertise of the CQM in telephonic patient management significantly contributed to the greater UF community and their rapid response to the pandemic crisis.

— John Gums


Facilities ServicesFacilities Services

I want to express my personal gratitude toward some of the staff members here at the University of Florida who I feel are often very under-represented and much under-appreciated for their efforts and contributions.

Often times the custodial staff here at UF are up and at work at hours that most everyone else is sound asleep. They show up and scrub toilets and floors with brushes and rags and a lot of people including myself are fully unaware of what they contribute to the function of these facilities. Without the valuable staff members that work on the UF custodial teams, this school would break down real quick.

I will raise a glass for them.

— Alan DeVaney


Kayla Fernandez

Kayla Fernandez
Assistant Director, Conference Services, Housing and Residence Life

In March, our department and university made a dramatic shift in our operation. During that time, Kayla’s team also adjusted its entire plan for housing conferences, and their workload significantly changed. Kayla and her team assisted housing’s occupancy management team in handling over 30,000 phone calls and 17,000 emails over the next ten months. Kayla assisted our team members with difficult conversations with students and family members. She learned complex housing processes and explained them with ease to help our new students live on campus. Kayla was a leader in our move-in committee planning for residents to have a safe and engaged move-in this fall. She has worked with our team to design and innovate our quarantine and isolation process for residents. Kayla’s most significant impact has been being a consistent leader on our team. I am genuinely grateful to have her as a colleague. Kayla has served as a soundboard and provided courageous feedback when we have the opportunity to improve. She is kind, thoughtful, dedicated, and intelligent. I am so thankful for her continued support, and she made 2020 better for me. Thank you, Kayla, for all that you do for our team and housing. We are lucky to have you!

— Tara Gallagher


Randy Crawfis
Maintenance Generalist II IFAS – RCREC

At the beginning of the pandemic, Randy spearheaded the RCREC effort ensuring COVID PPE was available and explained its use to the RCREC students. Randy also made available the COVID PPE for use by faculty and staff.

Randy was instrumental in assisting students during the COVID pandemic. Located in rural Hardee County, the RCREC is isolated from populated areas. Randy communicated with our international students who were staying in RCREC student housing. The center became a lonely place for our students with faculty and biological students working from home. Randy visited with the students daily, as well as weekends to ensure their comfort.

— Dennis Kalich


Debra Anderson

Debra Anderson
Director, International Student Support Services, UF International Center

As the COVID pandemic made its way around the world, the already-intense pressures on our international students increased exponentially. Would they be able to travel home? Would they be allowed to stay in the US? How to manage these difficult times far from home and from family? When the UF International Center joined the rest of campus in moving to remote work, we were faced with the dilemma of providing students with necessary hard copy documents and signatures. Without hesitation, Debra volunteered to be the one. For many long months, she was at the front desk of UFIC every single day, single-handedly serving students while juggling all of the uncertainties of the pandemic. In the process, she provided not only paperwork, but personal, caring support, advice, and compassion to hundreds—always with good cheer and a smile. Debby has been a true bright spot in dark times!

— Leonardo Villalon

 


UF Human Resources

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my wonderful colleagues in UFHR for their work and support over this past year. I have been so proud of watching my team members guide difficult projects and processes forward, deal with problems with grace, and try to be flexible and kind in the face of many difficult circumstances. My great hope for them is a period of restoration and joy over the holiday break.  I similarly am grateful for the HR liaisons in the various departments and colleges for their work and support in helping faculty and staff navigate this year.

— Jodi Gentry


Procurement Services PPE Buying Team

A group of staff in Procurement worked for months to source PPE for campus — PPE which included a broad range of products: N95 and cloth reusable masks (some branded with UF, others plain), gloves, safety goggles, face shields, hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer stands, disinfectant wipes, buckets to hold the wipes, stickers to go on the buckets to hold the wipes, stickers for the floor and items for the “Welcome Back” kits for students. While working remotely, using personal cell phones the team met daily and learned to use Teams on the fly, tracking multiple quotes from suppliers, comparing pricing and vetting suppliers to ensure they would really deliver. Buyers set up requisitions, and tracked shipments. The pressure was real and although the entire team was happy to be part of keeping campus safe and solving the problem, the pressure didn’t let up until the products arrived. Procurement is still working on PPE – but this team rose to the occasion and I’m grateful to work with them supporting UF.

Carrie Bush
Chief of Staff to the Chief Operating Officer

Gratitude to Carrie for always listening, taking notes, remembering, following thru’ and finding a way to reach across the large bureaucracy that is UF, building consensus, leveraging talent, always being kind and respectful and communicating clearly.

— Lisa Deal


Dan Rowland
Space Auditor Planner, Business Affairs Technical Services

Dan Rowland, as part of the Business Affairs Technical Services space team, has worked very hard on calculating the classroom occupancy changes due to COVID. He has needed to evaluate each room and provide information for planning purposes. Personally, he has assisted me with occupancy calculations and plans when needed for student spaces and staff spaces. He has gone over and above as he visited rooms personally during the lockdown period.

— Marie Brown


Ashley Grassano
Space & GIS Manager, UF Business Affairs Technical Services

Ashley and her team in Space & GIS Management, along with director Frank Phillips, provided physical distancing capacities for classrooms and teaching spaces across campus for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 terms. This required hours of work, site visits, and updating space capacities in systems across campus. While a huge undertaking, Ashley and her team provided this information quickly and accurately. We are grateful to her and her team’s contribution in keeping campus safe during the pandemic.

— Cheryl Gater


UFIT ICT Field Operation Team
IT Infrastructure Technicians & Supervisor, UFIT ICT

The ICT Field Operations team was crucial to helping the UF Health Screen, Test and Protect Initiative be up and running, helping to stand up sites including the Phillips Center Garage and the mobile sites. They have kept everyone connected all throughout these efforts to aid them in getting all UF faculty, staff and students tested.

— Ayola Singh-Kreitz


Candace Biggerstaff and Jessica Webb

Candace Biggerstaff and Jessica Webb
General Chemistry Laboratory Staff

Candace and Jessica did an excellent job creating and maintaining a safe environment for learning in the General Chemistry Laboratory for our in-person lab students in Fall 2020. By reconfiguring the lab to 25% capacity and following social distancing protocols, mask usage and safety training, they ensured that teaching assistants, lab employees and our students were able to maintain a safe laboratory environment conducive to student success. Thank you both for your efforts and willingness to go above and beyond.

— Julia Zavala


James Canter
Systems Admin/Programmer II, Ag & Bio Engineering

When the department workforce had to shift to remote work in March, the barriers to efficient and productive operation seemed insurmountable to me. James Canter singlehandedly addressed all these issues for the entire ABE staff and got us up, running and operating seamlessly.

James remained preternaturally upbeat and positive, even when the outside world was chaotic and in turmoil. It was so comforting to have such a competent and effervescent colleague making sure everything was operational. He has been one of the bright spots in a very dark time and has facilitated my own work performance to an incredible degree.

— Max Williams


Baby Gator Staff

Baby Gator Staff
Baby Gator Child Development and Research Center

Words cannot express how wonderfully adaptive, professional and caring the staff at all three Baby Gator Child Development and Research Centers have been throughout this challenging year! While always top-notch, their positive attitudes and attention to the health and safety of the children, families, and each other during such trying times has been tremendous. I want to publicly thank them for all of their hard work and dedication to supporting Baby Gator and the University meet the needs of students, faculty and staff on campus.

— Stacy Ellis


Levin College of Law Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff on the Levin College of Law campus worked together in truly exceptional ways this summer and fall. They reconfigured all of our classrooms; offered over 120 semester-long courses in person or in a Hyflex format; provided technological support for classrooms and remote students; monitored buildings for mask wearing and physical distancing; and otherwise built community among the 575 students, faculty, and staff on campus. All faculty and staff changed the ways they worked, and many assumed additional duties. I am immensely grateful for all the ways their flexibility and commitment helped our students thrive.

— Dean Laura Rosenbury


Research Activity Portal

Safely resuming research activities and managing those requests efficiently during the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been possible without the creation of an online research request portal. The development of the portal was accomplished with the skill and teamwork of application developer analyst Brian Gray, Interim Associate Dean for Research Damian Adams, and Distinguished Professor and Assistant Vice President Rob Ferl. More than 7,400 approved personnel were cleared to safely return to UF workplaces through the portal.

— Robert Gilbert


Supporting and Enforcing Masking and Social Distancing Guidelines Group
George A. Smathers Libraries

Members of group: Katiana Bague, Gregory Clayton, Janice Dees, Cynthia Digby, Jennifer Farrington, Chloe Hough, Keith Manuel, Mari Meke, Victoria Miller, Sakuna Saengow, Joanna Tuskey, Michele Wilbanks, Christine Yip, Michael Dietz

This group put together an expansive and comprehensive document that provided front-line pubic services staff with scripts to use when interacting with patrons during a pandemic. In particular, it created a decision tree that helped instruct staff in what could be said during different instances when encountering patrons with masks, without masks, those who were not social distancing, patrons with food, etc. The group gathered feedback from all departments in assembling this document. Some individuals in this group also reviewed and shared a list of trainings from other institutions related to dealing with difficult behavior and conflict resolution.

While library staff are more than capable of handling day-to-day public service situations, the possibility of friction over the new social distancing rules had many people feeling doubtful and anxious. The document this group put together provided solid guidance in a time when so many things had been in in flux. It addressed difficult scenarios and reassured staff that had the support they needed to ensure the safety of their patrons and co-workers.”

— Jennifer Farrington


College of Pharmacy HR Team

As I’m sure was true for all HR staff at UF, the College of Pharmacy’s HR Team, led by Elizabeth Moore, took on an incredible workload when the pandemic developed. In addition to normal HR operations for the college, we also had a tremendous amount of new effort needed to transition many employees to work remotely, identify various categories of ‘essential’ employees, obtain and disseminate information, track productivity and talent bandwidth, complete remote working forms, and many other aspects people management during the pandemic. It wasn’t long after, by summer, that gears shifted again toward figuring out how to safely get many employees and students back to campus.

Our HR Team set aside their own anxieties about what was transpiring and remained focused, dedicating many extra hours, on our college’s faculty, staff, and students.

— Kelly Sharp


College of Nursing Faculty, Staff and Students

College of Nursing Faculty, Staff and StudentsThis year’s global pandemic has proven to the world how invaluable nurses are and the importance of educated and well-prepared nurses for the future. Our Gator Nurses of tomorrow will be resilient clinicians and fearless leaders because they have thrived during a time of unprecedented challenges.

This fall, the College of Nursing implemented a “low-residency” model for our undergraduate, pre-licensure students that included experiential activities taught in a “block” format of three to four consecutive weeks using multiple shifts/days/weekends within the semester, restricting on-campus presence to only what is minimally necessary. Thirty faculty and 15 staff spent many days, nights and weekends planning, overseeing and managing this low-residency model and ensuring the safety and educational needs of our students came first. None of this would have been possible without these faculty and staff members, who model composure and assure certainty during an uncertain time.

All of these individuals are true heroes for tirelessly devoting their time, energy and expertise to create a safe environment. Their commitment and dedication will forever have an impact on our students and their future patients.

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

— Anna McDaniel


Recreational Sports

RecSports TeamRecreational Sports (RecSports) went above and beyond for the students and university community during 2020. When students were asked to return home in the spring and faculty and staff were sent home to work remote due to COVID-19, RecSports quickly pivoted. Programming that is typically hands on (i.e., group fitness classes, team building, intramurals, etc.) utilized technology to continue providing services to the students and RecSports members. RecSports quickly learned what platforms were most successful to carry out its vision of living in motion.

RecSports TEAMS employees were also one of the first groups to fully return to campus (June 2020). Following suit, the OPS and student staff returned to assist in their roles and staff the facilities. With a more robust student population returning to campus in fall, also came more students and staff withheld. RecSports supervisors and HR stayed on top of accounting for over 800 student staff and fulltime employees when withheld/cleared.

RecSports staff have stayed invigorated despite all of the changes and craziness 2020 has brought. I am beyond thrilled to work with them and that they are a part of campus.

— Benita Harrison


Kevin Knudson

Kevin Knudson
Chairman, Mathematics

Dr. Knudson is the chairman of the mathematics department and has been for the last 3 years. During this pandemic he has done an outstanding job of keeping the department informed of all the changes on campus regarding COVID-19. In a very short time frame he had to make decisions to get our department up and running with online classes and worked tirelessly with our faculty to make sure they had the tools they needed so that classes could run as smoothly as possible. All the while he did this with a smile and positive attitude. He has such an amazing working relationship with the department, especially his staff. He still manages to put a smile on their face while working remotely. He is really a super, super administrator and deserves recognition for all his hard work not only daily but especially for all the extra work during COVID-19.

— Sandy & Margaret


Heavener School of Business Team

I’m fortunate to work each day with a team of innovative, dedicated and caring professionals here in the Heavener School of Business.

In 2020, these attributes were leaned on more than ever as we navigated through truly challenging times. Our team showed resiliency, courage and empathy to tackle these challenges, stare down adversity (and win!) and take care of the students we are trusted to serve. Most importantly, our team rallied together to take care of each other in ways that filled me with admiration.

Thank you Heavener team for all you do, all you give and all you inspire!

— Alex Sevilla


Derek Reeverts
Teaching Lab Specialist, Ceramics, School of Art and Art History

Derek worked hard all spring, summer and into the fall to make our area, a very high touch and close contact type studio setting, a safe environment to work in. His practical approach and easy manner makes even difficult situations easier to deal during this difficult time. He does thorough research on best practices and communicates them in an easy to understand way. When everything we do is now is a matter of life and death, I am assured that we faculty and our students are being looked after and taken care of.

— Anna Calluori Holcombe


Aigi Adesogan
Assistant Vice President, Enrollment Management

When UF abided by the Florida Governor’s order to Shelter in Place, Aigi Adesogan coordinated every employee’s (approximately 250 staff) departure, with the help of EM Office Support Staff, from Criser Hall. When staff began their return to Criser Hall after this order was lifted, Aigi made employee safety her top priority, ensuring all employees would remain safe at work with social distancing, different office layouts, clear signage throughout the building regarding masking and other health measures. She also has lead the OneStop student services effort to provide all UF students with online help with questions pertaining to financial aid, records and registration, and admissions. She is certainly dedicated to supporting employee and student success at UF, in particular during the pandemic.

— Renee Buchanan


Rick Swineford
Telecommunications Tech, Telecommunications

Rick is one of a kind and has the best customer service I have ever seen. He is so dedicated to his job and customers day and night. He will come in anytime of the night to fix any telecommunication problem. When everyone went home to work, he came in every day and is out on campus repairing blue lights to help keep our campus safe. He will retire this year and will never be replaced. Congrats to Rick and you will be missed by many.

— Tisa Klemons


Nicole Fitzgerald
NIDA T32 Predoctoral Fellow, Epidemiology

Nicole is a predoc fellow. She has classes, 12 credits, actually, during the fall semester and 8 during the summer. She began her fellowship in May, during Summer C. This was also at the time I received a major grant to be the surveillance system for NIDA. In the midst of her heavy workload, she helped launch the grant (which she had helped to write in the summer before). She took on all of the hard work, launched a newsletter, a logo, interviewed all of the interviewers for the study, helped recruit the sentinel sites across the country, developed the interview and submitted it for programming; and much much more. She never complained about the workload. This is an amazing woman who has an incredible work ethic and professional talents. I appreciate her and want her to know that help is on the way!

Zoe Martusewicz
Admin Coordinator, Epidemiology

Zoe is part of the admin team who helps keep us all together during this COVID pandemic. She helped review over 130 applications for interviewing jobs and helped interview the applicants even though this is not part of her job. She has also been planning our college research day– the first virtual event ever. Zoe is a highly professional and skilled assistant/coordinator who is a joy to work with. She has taken on many initiatives in the past 8 months to assist with our team and we appreciate her sense of humor during it all.

Tamara Millay
Admin Coordinator, Epidemiology

Tamara has helped all of us on the team with unbelievable skill and calmness. We received a COVID supplement from NIDA and we had to hire 30 people right away to do interviews and she helped with all of the paperwork for the hiring, even though it was outside the scope of her job. We also submitted several very large grants– one for $40M in 10 days (not because we were not prepared, but b/c it was all the time they gave people) and Tam was on top of every single part of the effort. There are so many more things Tam has done for the team and I could never mention them all. I do want to express my appreciation and thanks to her.

— Linda Cottler


Hope Beaty, Jackie Lavinder, Jordan McCloskey, Dena Wilson

Hope Beaty, Jackie Lavinder, Jordan McCloskey, Dena Wilson
Experiential Coordinators, UF College of Pharmacy, Office of Experiential Programs

Our experiential coordinators in the UF College of Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential Programs have gone above and beyond to care for our students, preceptors, faculty, and staff throughout the pandemic. Collectively, they ensure that over 1,000 pharmacy students remain on track for graduation by managing their rotation requirements. They come together to collaborate and develop new processes to challenges as they arise. Their remarkable efforts are extremely appreciated! We simply could not fulfill our mission without them!

— Kimberly Stultz


Hillary Carter
Multimedia Specialist, Dean’s Office PHHP

Hillary has picked up several responsibilities during this time, but the one I want to express thanks for here relates to course production. Hillary has been a lynchpin in the communications with faculty to ensure they have Canvas sites for their courses. From the rush at the pivot through the current preparation for fall, she has been key in faculty contact to facilitate the creation of course shells. This is in addition to her support in the studio.

Eva Egenstainer
Video & Multimedia Specialist, Dean’s Office PHHP

There are many things, but the one I want to say thankyou for here relates to graduations this year. Eva has been instrumental in assisting with virtual graduations.

— Truly Hardemon


Strategic Communication & Marketing Team

I want to express my appreciation and admiration to UF’s Strategic Communications and Marketing team for its outstanding contributions during this exceptional year. The environment has tested each of us personally and professionally, and yet this team never wavered from its commitment and resolve to do their best and be their best for this university. Each team member embraces challenge to develop innovative ways to strengthen communications internally and externally. They have given their all to help ensure that our students, faculty and staff and all of our constituencies receive important university-related information. The same goes for our communications colleagues all over campus – they are a stellar team of true professionals who come together seamlessly to create tightly woven network that is second to none. These efforts are aligned under a singular, shared goal: to create success for each member of our university community and the university as a whole.

— Nancy Paton


Jessica Feagle
Development Project Manager, UF Advancement Strategy & Operations

On behalf of UF Advancement, I would like to recognize Jessica Feagle. She continually goes above and beyond, and her work product is fantastic. Whether it was her lightning speed pivot to reimagine the DO staff meeting in the COVID era or her inexhaustible patience and grace on tight turnaround times, she is always up for the task. She will take on any project and do so without even a hint of stress. She is unflappable and a tremendously hard worker. Recently, she partnered with UF Health to train a member of their staff in development strategy space, and she put in  100%+. She designed lesson plans and exercises and even created a capstone project that pulled together all of the content we can’t say enough about Jessica’s contributions to the Strategy & Operations, Development, and broader Advancement teams.

Naomi Kwiatkouski

Naomi Kwiatkouski
Payroll & Compensation Administrator, UF Advancement Talent Management

Naomi was very instrumental with transitioning UF Advancement employees to work remotely in a short notice this year due to the pandemic. Naomi worked collaboratively with IT and Facilities on equipment, office furniture, etc. to ensure everyone was set up for success. She prepared 150+ Alternate Work Location Agreements at a record speed in March and July, and will need to process them again in December for the ones who are extending their agreement. Throughout the entire process, her attitude remained positive and supportive. She is a ROCK STAR and a tremendous teammate to all of her colleagues.

— David Woods


UFITBC Team

UFIT Business Center, Human Resources, Finance and Auxiliary Operations

To the UFIT Business Center – I am amazed by your unselfish commitment to UFIT and UF. Special thanks to Anna, Jackie, Kristiina and Mindy for your leadership through crazy times!

The HR Team (Rosie, Robin, Bethany and Jessica) at UFIT rocks and consistently delivers top notch service. We appreciate your hard work and dedication!

I’d like to thank Deb, Tony, and Liz within the UFIT Business Center Fiscal team. Throughout this year, everyone could always “count” on them.”

Sending my heartfelt thank you to my fantastic Auxiliary team in the UFIT Business Center: Stacy, Willy, Suzi, Kevin and Suzanne. You rocked 2020!

— Barbara Sedesse

 


Fran Smith
Admin Specialist II, Astronomy

Fran has gone above and beyond during this difficult time. She has just completed her first year in our department and had to learn her job in the midst of COVID. She has shown great dedication and is doing a great job! She never complains and is always willing and ready to help. She is proactive at solving problems and is not afraid to ask questions. She responds to requests quickly and efficiently. She is friendly and welcoming with our students, faculty and staff and also very professional in her dealings with everyone. We are very lucky to have her as part of our team!

— Elizabeth Lada


Keith Collins
Advisor, FES, College of Design, Construction & Planning

Keith is the advisor of the FES program. Keith has been able to maintain his workload at home even with the application and enrollment numbers of the program doubling in size. He speaks with every student and makes sure the program continues, even working remotely. The program would like to thank Keith for his work efforts and ability to maintain a high level even during this event.

Judy Johnson
Administrative Assistant, FES, College of Design, Construction & Planning

Judy has kept the FES running during this time. She works between being at home and going to office to maintain the functions of the program. She has assisted all the faculty and staff of FES in any way that she can to make sure we continue to maintain the high level of program we are known for. Judy has done an exceptional job throughout this event.

— Jeff Lindsey


Honors Program Team

The UF Honors Program team pivoted quickly to online services without compromising accessibility or quality. Advisors handled an increase in student meetings and received top ratings for student satisfaction. The team engaged in extraordinary care and outreach with international student scholars impacted by rapidly changing federal policies. Program faculty guided students to record success with nationally-competitive awards. Staff members increased outreach to prospective and current students through virtual resources, while also responding to course delivery changes and instructor needs. Finally, the office leadership kept the wellbeing of the entire office at the forefront which directly contributed to the productivity they achieved this year.


Talline Martins
Director, Graduate Professional Development, Division of Graduate Student Affairs

Starting a new job can often be scary and confusing, not to mention if you start right before a global pandemic! My supervisor, Talline, provided excellent guidance in helping me transition into my new position and then into remote work. I always appreciated it when she asked, “Are you comfortable doing x?” which prevented me from taking on overly stressful tasks in the beginning. When the unexpected arose, she was very understanding and supportive as well. We are different people with different approaches to much, but it is because of these differences that we succeed and innovate!

 — Amanda Catron


UFIT ICT Data Center and Logistics Team
IT Infrastructure Technicians & Data Center Manager

I want to recognize this team because they are the unsung heroes of the AI Cluster project taking place in the UF Data Center. In order to light up or turn on the AI supercomputer donation that UF received this year — that will empower countless faculty’s research — the Data Center and Logistics team has worked around the clock – from escorting construction staff, to receiving racks and nodes and racking equipment. These members have worked around the clock, including weekends since October – to ensure that this equipment is on by January. They are even working through the holiday work, and for that and all the tireless work they have done for this project (and other projects) – we are beyond grateful.

— Ayola Singh-Kreitz


Export Control
UF Research Integrity

The UF Research Integrity program has worked to create a culture of customer service in compliance. Each team member works diligently to help faculty to achieve their research goals and objectives while remaining compliant with federal laws and regulations. I appreciate all of their hard work making UF a better place to conduct research, educate students and engage internationally.

— Marsha Pesch


Gaylen Morgan

Gaylen Morgan
Legislative Coordinator, Government & Community Relations

Prior to the start of pandemic, Gaylen began hinting that she might be moving from Tallahassee to wherever her fiancé was being positioned with his new company. It happened, and when the pandemic forced us all to work from home, this became her trail period to test the unknown.

Gaylen quickly stepped up, becoming a shared resource for our team as an unofficial digital communications expert. She facilitated a great deal of our transition from face-to-face events to online platforms, drafted digital newsletters and social media content so we could continue communicating with our stakeholders, and sought professional development opportunities.

— Samantha Sexton


Darci Miller

Darci Miller
Research Coordinator III, Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics

Darci Miller is the research coordinator for my lab in the College of Medicine. Darci helps lead our team to conduct rigorous scientific research, train the next generation of scientists, and to move the college and universities mission forward. She gives 110% in all she does and we are lucky to have her as a staff member here at UF.

— Michelle Cardel


Rachael Santarsiero
Captionist, Video Conferencing Services

Rachael has worked tirelessly this year to provide quality and timely captioning for students who are deaf, hard of hearing or have auditory processing disorder. Rachael is quick to provide technical support to faculty about how to facilitate captioning. Additionally, Rachael is consistently openly collaborating with the DRC to make sure the students have their needs met to allow them equal access within their classrooms online.

— Amanda Jackson


ECE Facilities Team
Electrical & Computer Engineering

I am recognizing our facilities team, Ray McClure and Quashawn Durant, because they have worked tirelessly throughout the shutdown keeping things running in our department. No matter what we ask of them, they are there, ready and willing to assist, just as they were before COVID. Theirs is often a thankless job, but their efforts do not go unnoticed. Thank you both!

— Marcy Lee


Amanda Pillar
Marketing Communications Specialist, Division of Student Affairs

Amanda has gone above and beyond to consistently provide exceptional communication to our students through our social media, website and more. Amanda is always available to help with technical aspects of website and more. Amanda provides a unique opinion that helps the DRC relate to our students. Amanda truly cares about our students and advocates for access and inclusion of students with disabilities around UF.

— Amanda Jackson


Nancy Leasure
Administrative Support Asst II, General Pediatrics

Nancy is amazing! She continues to support all of our teams with care and understanding, as well as efficiency and dedication. She is the silent backbone of how we function day-to-day. She will never know how much we truly appreciate her!


Shasme Robinson
General Pediatrics

Shas has been the most amazing, supportive and understanding staff member our team has worked with this year. She continues to listen to our needs, and is continually striving to understand more about our team to help it function efficiently to deliver quality care to our patients. She is never without a smile during interactions (albeit under her mask!).


Dana Myers
Undergraduate Advisor, SA+AH

Dana’s supervision of the overwhelming number of undergraduate students in SA+AH is immaculate given the scope of the job — she is to be endlessly praised for her phenomenal work. I was able to better support a number of students who were struggling due to the pandemic conditions by coordinating with her efforts and keeping her looped in. Dana knows how to hold students accountable in an empathic and professional manner, and that capacity makes all of the faculty’s jobs easier. She is a crucial resource and asset for our undergrads.

Lynne Tomaszweski
Director, SA+AH

Lynn has encountered difficult challenges on multiple fronts, from every-changing regulations, to faculty resistant to change, to acclimating new hires, to facilitating complex and difficult administrative conversations and art and culture. We have been lucky to have her as a Director for as long as we have, and she deserves immense credit for the pandemic transitions being as smooth as could humanly be expected. Grateful for her work.

Dianne Caple
Executive Administrator, SA+AH

Dianne is always awesome: now she is awesome in a pandemic. That is all.

Myles Dunigan
Teaching Lab Specialist, SA+AH

Myles has held a calm power in the Printmaking and WARP pedagogies during the pandemic. He has been challenged not only with adapting very material assignments to online and socially distanced formats, but with maintaining facilities and keeping them safe for student use in multiple buildings at multiple locations. He has been tremendous support for both students and faculty alike, at times introducing students to new materials and techniques, at times orienting senior faculty to new technologies– all during his first year on the job. He has been a tremendous asset to our School and community.

Morgan Yacoe
4MOST Fellow, SA+AH

Morgan has done an amazing job adapting the 4MOST Gallery to pandemic needs this semester while teaching the intense Workshop for Artistic Research and Practice course. Though it was her first time teaching the course, Yacoe did not shy away from taking on ambitious pedagogical challenges and adaptations, resulting not only in a rich and intense experience for her students, but a fruitful collaboration with her co-teacher, as well. Yacoe’s legacy in WARP lies not only in the powerful “survival kits” and group exhibitions her students created this semester, but in the creation of a final publication of work that students will be able to keep as both a part of their archives and a memory of the experience of the class.

Annemarie Furlong
Facilities, SA+AH

Annemarie has been superhuman in her efforts to adapt and maintain the School of Art +Art History facilities during the pandemic. We are all safer, healthier and saner because of her efforts.

Barb Mitola
HR

Barb and her team are rocking it and staying sane with all of the crazy pandemic upheavals. Grateful for them and their continued work.

— Moe Beitiks

 


Benita Bannis

Benita Bannis
Assistant Director and Team Manager, IIST, UF/IFAS

Office of the Dean for Research IFAS International Support Team (IIST) manager Benita Bannis coordinated a series of discussions around the topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the faculty and staff in the UF/IFAS Research Dean’s Office, the Environmental Horticulture Department, and the Agronomy Department. We appreciate her willingness to facilitate this dialogue as we work towards fulfilling these values as an institution.

— Robert Gilbert


TSS IT Support Team

Our IT Team has and continues to be phenomenal, the transition they made in such a short window was beyond amazing. We are so blessed to have their talents at work for us. I cannot count the days they saved the day for our office! They are our HEROES! I would name them all but it’s too many names… they know who they are, and I hope they know how much they are appreciated! Needless to say, we never skipped a beat this year, and that says a lot for each of them! They are our IT Heroes!!

— Beth Boone


Lindsay Gamble

Lindsay Gamble
Communications Specialist, UFIT

I hate to use the cliché “above and beyond” because it is too trite for all that Lindsay Gamble has provided this year. Among the areas Lindsay added to her list since COVID-19 include: 1) Lindsay expanded her on-camera, video editing, and production skills to create videos for students, faculty, and staff that help them with remote teaching, learning, and working. 2) Lindsay learned T4 and to help update websites during COVID, taking some of the volume off of UFIT’s web developer staff. 2) With my workload pivoting to writing more executive communications, Lindsay took on the virtual onboarding and training needs required for two new student employees.

Lindsay routinely took on extra hours of work each week, all while completing her Master of Arts in Mass Communication. Lindsay finished her (very intensive) master’s on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Yay, Lindsay! So happy for you and SO GRATEFUL to have you in UFIT!

Erik Deumens

Erik Deumens
Director, Research Computing, UFIT

Dr. Erik Deumens has been an extraordinary blessing this year. In spite of all of the logistics issues brought on by the pandemic, he has continued to oversee the build of v.3 of the HiPerGator supercomputer, which will mean so much to the university. But that’s not why I want to recognize him.

In addition to being the supercomputing expert reviewing proposals and being a part of so many campus committees, Dr. Deumens has taken so much time to help us non-technical professionals understand the value that supercomputing brings to UF, and what having such advanced AI capabilities will mean to our faculty, our students, and to the university’s reputation. Dr. Deumens will make his day that much longer, answer all the emails, from student reporters, staff from around campus, and communications staff who don’t know the difference between a compute cluster and a server rack. No matter how busy he is, Dr. Deumens takes the time to really explain, in story form and not computational jargon, what these advances mean, how this new technical environment will work, and why it’s a great time to be a part of UF. Dr. Deumens is a great Gator!

— Tracy Gale


Ryane Burg

Ryane Burg
Business Analyst II, UFIT Project Management Office

During the past year, when the UFIT Research Computing team was tasked with the implementation of the HiPerGator 3.0 supercomputer and the installation of the HiPerGator AI supercomputer donated by Chris Malachowsky and Nvidia, Ryane Burg applied her considerable project and people management skills to help organize all the work that had to be done. She made a big difference in how the team organized their work efficiently to get the many complex tasks done in time.

— Erik Deumens


Margaret Somers

Margaret Somers
Office Manager, Mathematics

Margaret Somers is the office manager in the mathematics department. She goes above and beyond every day to make sure our department runs smoothly. Working with her is such a pleasure and I am thankful to work along side her. She makes working in the department such joy as we have such a great working relationship.

— Sandra Gagnon


Lisa DuVall
Administrative Specialist III, UF IFAS Budget & Finance Office

I was introduced to Lisa DuVall at a Virtual Effort Open Lab by Brenda Harrell. Lisa offered to assist me with our department’s Effort Reporting. Lisa has been mentoring me and sharing her extensive knowledge of Effort Reporting. She has made a difference in my work life this year by generously giving of her time to ensure my success. I am grateful for Lisa DuVall’s expertise, patience and caring for others at the University of Florida.

— Candace Aho


Kendall Kroger
Academic Assistant, UF QUEST

On a daily basis Kendall solves problems and makes it possible for the Good Life and Quest courses to continue to deliver quality instruction even as the modalities shifted in spring and fall semesters. Kendall brings together administrators, faculty, and staff in CLAS, COTA, DCP, Journalism, HPP, the Hawkins Center, the registrar, the libraries, CITT, Innovation Academy, Honors to build connections that create a meaningful experience for our undergraduates, whether in the Good Life course or in the Quest courses. She is service oriented and always there for the students and she is always so helpful to faculty.

— Victoria Pagan


UF | ICBR Staff food drive

UF | ICBR Staff

For the third consecutive year, UF ICBR held its annual food drive to provide food and supplies to Gainesville schools’ Backpack Programs (event concluded 12/4). Well, although our results were tremendous in 2018 and 2019, this year took the cake. Over the course of eight weeks, our staff of 46 individuals collected over 5,150 items for Gainesville students, or approximately 112 items per employee.

Our HR Manager, Erica Boyd, was responsible for organizing and building momentum for this effort; creating a (fun) competitive points system among departments, building rapport with nearby schools, and most importantly, communicating to our staff every week about how real this need is in our community.

The response was tremendous as our whole staff jumped into action. It brings me great pride to say that food drives and fundraisers are pretty common on UF’s campus, but it was an inspiring effort for our staff that provided a sense of unity and togetherness that has been exceptionally challenging in 2020.

— Chris Dillon


Dan Stewart
Registered Dietitian, Pediatric Gastroenterology

Mr. Stewart is an extraordinary coworker who personifies the “Above and Beyond” mentality. He doesn’t hesitate to lean in if a child needs help, at work and also at home, since he and his wife (also works in Pediatrics) are foster parents. Already working at full capacity, he has done the work of two Registered Dietitians (since one left and wasn’t replaced d/t hiring crunch.) Even with the extra workload, he remains passionate about what he does, and dedicated to his work at UF.

— Joan English


UFIT – Project Management Team

I am beyond lucky to work with an amazing team: Jim Freymann, Troy Haynes, Pate Cantrell, Amita Amin, Megan Baker, Patricia Cook, Susan Mitnick, Russ Mercer, Sha Liu, Ryane Burg. Each of you deserves recognition for representing UF with humility, integrity, compassion and wisdom. I couldn’t ask for better teammates. Thank you!!!

— Benjamin Markus


Nutrition Educators
Family Nutrition Program & Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, UF/IFAS Extension

The nutrition educators of both UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program (FNP) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) have embraced the service and Extension mission of UF by transitioning to online recruitment and teaching to reach our most food-insecure population by teaching them how to eat healthier on a budget. These dedicated men and women are also back to teaching classes in the community. Their passion and commitment to excellence is unparalleled.

— Kimberly Klinger

 


Kent Fuchs

Kent Fuchs
President, Office of the President

Words are valuable, especially when they describe someone like Kent Fuchs our UF President! Here’s a few… kind, compassionate, humble, sincere, optimistic, happy, genuine, thoughtful, honest, considerate, caring, loves family, thankful, benevolent, amazing leader, beloved, generous, joyful, hardworking, wise, intelligent, observant, funny, sensible, true, hopeful, thinker, confident, tough, upbeat, respected, good listener, integrity, motivating, resilience, empathy, responsive, appreciative, inspiring, positive, ambitious, dependable, creative, doer, mentor, perfect example, keeps his word, calm, upbeat, polite always, faithful, Godly, honorable, grateful, great sense of humor, responsible, and did I mention the X Factor and the greatest laugh ever! We are blessed beyond measure!

— Anonymous

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