Staff Awards and Recognition
UTSA Staff Senate's STAR Award Nomination Form
Nominate a staff member or team of staff members who deserve recognition for the STAR Award (Staff Award and Recognition)!
The UTSA Staff Senate aims to recognize high achievement through contributions made by full-time eligible staff who further the vision, mission, and core-values of the University. We encourage faculty, staff, administrators, students, and alumni to nominate a staff member or team of staff members who deserve recognition.
The UTSA Staff Senate recognizes one person or team per month from October through July. All full-time staff members are eligible.
Nominations submitted by the second Monday of the month will be considered for that month's award. Nominees who are not selected in the month in which they are nominated will be considered in the nominee pools over the next two months.
Staff Appreciation Award Winners
Marivel Guerrero provides a complex and high level of service to the faculty, staff and students in Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design. She leads a team of 8 that fully support the financial and human resource functions of the college. Not only does she provide excellent service to our college but she works hard to share best practices with her colleagues across the institution so that others can benefit from her experience. She is an outstanding colleague and leader and we are so grateful for her continued service in UTSA's KCEID.
Mayra has always gone above and beyond the scope of work to not only accommodate, but to assist her fellow coworkers at UTSA. She is always ensuring everyone feels welcome and appreciated. Whenever you have a question or need some advice; she takes her time to explain the process and ensures that your questions are answered. Her guidance was that of a strong leader as she was patient and encouraging. Mayra has made positive impacts on several employees throughout UTSA. Mayra is a great example of a person I did not know before the task was assigned, but has made such a positive impression on me.
John is contacted for all sorts of technology issues and as always, he provides resolution and superb customer service. At times I even connect him with others in our department. They are quick to let me know how knowledgeable, and helpful he is. When John is assisting you, he doesn't just remote on and assist you, he talks you through what he's doing in a way that will teach you how to resolve the issue, so that when these types of technology issues arise with other users, we are prepared to assist on our own. He has been a blessing to our department when it comes to technology issues. His efforts, knowledge, dedication, extraordinary customer service, and attitude personify the professionalism a UTSA staff member should aspire to have.
Miranda recently got promoted from an Advisor II to an Advisor III. During her transition period, she was not yet been able to fully hand off her previous duties. Yet she has handled it not only with a great attitude but with ambitious goals of excellent quality work. She was also selected for the Staff Mentorship Program which is another activity to add to her plate, but she manages these disparate modes of involvement with aplomb. She's very unique in what she brings to the table, having experience as an academic coach and a fascination with metacognition, positive psychology, and advising pedagogy.
Fernando Montoya is an invaluable team member, and his department is incredibly grateful for his service, leadership, and contributions to Academic Innovation and the UTSA community. Fernando consistently provides excellent customer service. He is known for his dedication to his work and never fears jumping right into things. He is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure our team and customers have what they need to succeed. Fernando's positive attitude and willingness to help have not gone unnoticed, and UTSA is grateful for his contributions. He is an exemplary leader and an asset to our department. He is always willing to take on new challenges and lead by example. He is known for motivating and inspiring his colleagues and creating a positive work environment. Fernando's leadership style fosters a collaborative, inclusive culture that values and respects everyone's input. Nando is an outstanding team member, leader, and contributor to our department and the UTSA community. His commitment to excellence, positive attitude, and leadership qualities have been instrumental in our success.
Debra Nelson has students interests and goals at the heart of all that she does. Her work with students to help them become members of the UTSA community, and Honors College in particular, is remarkable. She spends a great deal of time with prospective students, answering myriad questions, and often fields questions from inquiring parents. She puts herself in their shoes and with infinite patience provides them with the resources they need to feel great about making UTSA their new home. For many Honors College students and their families, Debra is their first point of contact as they navigate becoming UTSA members. As a result of her relationship building, Debra was best suited to serve as liaison with a friend and family of a student who passed away – demonstrating her unique and amazing skill set that helped the family navigate a tragedy. Debra’s commitment to leadership, service and excellence is what drove her to earn her masters in higher education from UTSA last May, the focus of her studies was student engagement and research related to that.
Nicole Poole has performed admirably in her solo-staff position in the Department of History this year. Her great strength in event management, in particular, has helped the department to stage a pair of signature events, namely, a symposium for the graduate students in our Master’s Program in the fall and a daylong research conference open to the public in the spring. In addition, Nicole has provided excellent administrative support to a host of other functions throughout the year including our highly successful public history workshops. Her effective coordination with our UTSA partners and off campus vendors, timely communication with guest speakers, handling of publicity efforts in advance, and scrupulous attention to details on site have given us the capacity and the confidence to pivot as a public-facing, community-engaged academic department. Nicole also brings a contagious can-do spirit and a cheerful demeanor to work every day. Armed with a servant-leader mentality, she is always ready to roll up her sleeves and do her best after a clear-eyed assessment of the need. The faculty also greatly appreciate her student-centered service, as she brings much-needed sensitivity and a student-friendly culture to the operation of the department, perhaps because she was once an undergraduate student and a work study at UTSA, and is now a graduate student enrolled in the Art and Art History Program. Nicole Poole is truly an asset to the History Department and she deserves our recognition!
Ryne coordinates and is primarily responsible for the Behavioral Intervention Team, which consists of 15+ faculty and staff from various Departments across the University. The primary purpose of the Team is to ensure the safety of the campus community and connect those who are experiencing mental health struggles with on and off campus resources. Her expertise and dedication are unmatched. She leads the BIT evaluations, at times requiring a very large and diverse group to reach a consensus on extremely important considerations. It is only her and 1 direct report that responds to each and every report made to the team (there are 1-7 each day and they touch base with both the identified person and the reporting employee), conducts interviews/examinations of individuals 1:1 to determine their mental state, and identifies resources that match the level of distress. Her commitment and dedication to caring for all employees and students is awe inspiring and appreciated.
I am writing to nominate Liz Rockstroh for her exceptional spirit of collaboration, positive attitude, and leadership qualities. In addition to her outstanding collaborative skills and positive attitude, Liz has also demonstrated remarkable leadership qualities by implementing innovative solutions in the Business Affairs Division. One such example is her implementation of Mentimeter for the Strategic Plan Refresh listening conversations, which has improved our ability to gather clear and consistent feedback and insights from our employees and facilitated a more productive and collaborative dialogue. Liz goes above and beyond everyday and does so with a positive attitude. No project is too big or too small. Her team in the Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs follows her lead and maintain a positive work atmosphere, which is recognized by visitors and colleagues. Liz's ability to think creatively and her willingness to take risks have inspired her colleagues to embrace new ideas and approaches. Her leadership qualities have been instrumental in enhancing the overall productivity and success of the Business Affairs Division and have made a significant contribution to the University.
Lab Safety Team
As the lab safety team, Rich, Quy, and Cynthia are tremendous assets to the Roadrunner Nation because they provide fundamental support to students, faculty, and staff. They all demonstrate a deep commitment to supporting safety in research and teaching labs, studios, shops, and creative spaces. They have maintained the highest level of customer service to our research community and have proactively sought additional training and safety certifications to ensure they have the expertise to meet UTSA's needs. They have created new training modules for research staff, developed strong relationships with regulatory oversight officials, and conducted peer comparisons to support continuous improvement. They continue to maintain research equipment, replace essential safety tools, and train researchers on their use. Because of this team, UTSA lab safety has remained stable, strong, and supports the innovative advancements for our faculty and students. Without this team, UTSA would not be able to meet its regulatory obligations to many oversight agencies, which would cause a significant disruption to important discoveries and training for our students. In addition, these three individuals are irreplaceable in terms of their depth of knowledge and their genuine passion for improving the safety culture and awareness throughout UTSA's campuses. Often working persistently and quietly in the background, these staff are often overlooked.
Risk and Emergency Management Team
This past October, a critical need arose to inspect all the dorms in student housing. This was a monumental task and it needed to be completed as soon as possible. Student housing comprises of approximately 4,000 beds in several residential units on campus. The OREM team was called upon to provide leadership and support for this effort in conjunction with residential life, campus services and PD. The OREM team, led by Jason Dempsey, stepped up to the challenge and put their day to day work aside for a few days in order to prioritize the inspections. They developed a schedule and a plan for how to accomplish the work. Initially, it was estimated that it would take a week to complete the inspections. The team was assisted by a rotating group of approximately 20-25 RA’s each day. Each new group of RA’s needed to be trained and guided through the process. Due to the efforts and dedication of the OREM team, the work was completed in about 3 days (half the time initially estimated). After the inspections were completed, they worked extra hard to catch up with their other duties, which had taken a back seat for those days. We are very proud of the team and their work ethic.
COAMFR Approval Team
While each member of this team works in different area, each has taken part in assisting with establishing cost centers, especially around the time of endowment buy-in. Many times, establishing an endowment cost center cannot be done on our schedule, but rather to the timeline of our donors and UT System, which may differ from UTSA’s schedule. This team must make adjustments to their daily tasks to accommodate us in being able to assist our donor, our students, and our staff. Their prompt service and their counsel is greatly appreciated.
Multicultural Student Center for Equity and Justice
The Multicultural Student Center for Equity and Justice office is dedicated to advancing inclusion, equity, and building community across the UTSA campus. During the spring 2023 semester, MSCEJ offered about 24 different trainings/workshops and trained about 500 faculty, staff, and students on topics related to advancing inclusion and advocating for equity across campus. Despite the many obstacles and barriers to equity and inclusion work, MSCEJ has continued to persist in support of students and the broader UTSA community.
Equal Opportunity Services
The University's obligation to stay compliant with numerous legal and regulatory frameworks, the goal of which is to ensure equal access to employment and educational opportunities, is the responsibility of the EOS Team. This team, led by Suzanne Patrick and Adrienne Rodriguez, provide consultations, ensure policies are in accord with regulations, investigate allegations, coordinates with other University offices to provide trainings, counseling, and discipline where necessary. They meet with all parties and witnesses to various matters, write comprehensive reports and referrals that incorporates all evidence and legal contours to ensure employees and students have all opportunities to which they are entitled, and that they are treated in a fair, civil, and supportive manner. They work long hours on difficult matters and disputes, but remain available to other teams to provide guidance and support in matters that relate to equal opportunity. They treat each person with dignity, respect and support, and their work is necessary at a local, state and federal level. As collaborators, they are also supportive and ready to partner to make the UTSA climate the best it can be.
Year End Team Winner: The Facilities Painters Team, UTSA Office of Facilities
Written by Antonio Alvarez: “In my role as Lab Coordinator in the College of Sciences, I have the privilege of working with many of the teams in Facilities, however my experience with the Facilities Painting Team, John Avalos, Jesus Calamaco, Horacio Cibrian, Michael Fernandez, James Kuykendall and Freddie Robinson, has been nothing short of outstanding. I am responsible for readying labs for new faculty hires. With all of the requests across campus, the painters were able to squeeze my request in and did an outstanding job in the labs. The labs look virtually new, which provides a great view of UTSA for new faculty who are joining our university. This team took care of our office when we relocated into our new department suite. They went above and beyond expectations in providing excellent service. Each morning we arrived to the suite, they were already busy in their work. Our morning conversation was so interactive and jovial, it was as though they were a part of our department. Following this interaction, a few months later, I noticed the painters were working within the corridors in the FLN building, in preparation for a new project. This was a huge job, basically by the sheer size of the space. This team again exhibited the same upbeat spirit and jovialness. Their work may not be the most exciting, but the manner in which they approach their work and the pride they take in their work, makes the team most deserving of recognition.”
Year End Team Winner: Environmental Management Team
It’s been said that the Environmental Management Team, Anastacio Alvarez, Ernesto Chapa, Richard Guitierrez, Ivonne Torres, often doesn’t get seen, because their work happens “behind the scenes, or is not so pretty, and can often times be smelly. This team is why UTSA is a clean and litter free campus. This team contributes to why we have a sustainable environment and a greener campus with the efforts they put in. We know that recycling will help eliminate many items from landfills which is work that goes out of the public eye, but this team of people work all day outside no matter the weather are some of the hardest working and professional people at UTSA.
Year End Team Winner: The UTSA COLFA BSC Team
The COLFA BSC, Annie Herrera, Felix Almanza, Jenny Stokes and Tempest Pouncy, do an amazing job of serving the faculty, staff and students in the COLFA department. Whether processing new hire forms in People Soft, managing the budget for all the cost centers, completing monthly reconciliation, or any of the other roles, this team gives extraordinary attention to detail to ensure that everything is completed in a timely and accurate manner. This team’s work is vital to the success of our College, and although much of what they do is behind the scenes, they make significant contribution to the departments, centers and students by making sure that all our operations run smoothly. This team of individuals not only provide excellent customer service to faculty, staff, and students, they all individually and as a team demonstrate leadership qualities within COLFA. When we transitioned to Service Now, this team provided a comprehensive two-part training to staff and faculty, and offer one-on-one assistance as needed. Annie Herrera is always quick to respond to any question – big or small – and has been instrumental in allocating funds for the construction of our new center. Felix went above and beyond to help our student research conference winners navigate the Payment Works process so they could receive their awards. When I got my new One Card, Jenny Stokes patiently walked me through the process of completing all the forms. Tempestt quickly responds to purchase requests for student organizations and events. Not only do they get the job done – they do it all with a smile and an eagerness to help. The BSC is a model team and deserves to be recognized for their contributions to COLFA and UTSA.
October Staff Appreciation Winner: Andrea McClure - Employee Services Supervisor
Andrea is an exemplary staff member who has excelled during this recent hiring season. Recently she has had to mitigate the various issues and inquiries revolving eForms, including reviewing all hires, rehires, contract changes, volunteer appointments, job data updates, and position attribute changes. Andrea’s extensive knowledge and expertise has not only helped her coworkers in People Excellence but UTSA as well, by providing campus-wide guided training to ensure proper submission of eForms. Thank you Andrea for that all you have done to ensure that UTSA is able to properly hire and onboard employees for various departments in a timely manner.
July Individual Winner: Siobhan Fleming, Strategic Research Initiatives
Dr. Siobhan Fleming has exemplified what it means to be a roadrunner and is continually striving to advance programs that will directly impact UTSA students and faculty. For example, as part of the MITRE GenAI Consortium team, Dr. Fleming has been an integral part of continuing the program's mission to expose students across all academic disciplines to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Her positive attitude, strong organizational skills, and wide breadth of knowledge of UTSA research resources have been invaluable to the success of the program's mission. In addition, due to Dr. Fleming’s expertise, we have formed a special Research Interest Group (RIG) to help unite the GenAI program with the newly formed School of Data Science. This collaboration will be invaluable in leading the way to expanding the reach of emerging technologies to students.
July Team Winner: Graduate School Administration
The Graduate School Administration team, Ginger Hernandez, Gabrielle Zepeda, Clarissa Benavides and Jake Sullivan, are the unsung heroes of the Graduate School. The value they bring to the Graduate School is next to none and without them the department would come to a stand-still. The team is quick to help other staff members in our unit and across the University – and they do it with a smile. Often times they are the first face or voice of the Graduate School to students, faculty, and staff. They make sure every graduate school constituent receives the highest levels of customer service. They offer cross-unit support for events like commencement and orientation and are always ready to help their co-workers and colleagues. They go above and beyond for our unit staff and the UTSA community as a whole. In fact, they bring a sense of community to the Graduate School team. During a lengthy period of time when their team was short-staffed, they all quickly adjusted to make sure all front-facing areas of the Graduate School were covered. I don’t think it’s too far reaching to say this Team is the heart of the Graduate School unit.
June Individual Winner: Kim Kyle, COB Management Science & Statistics
Kim Kyle is an indispensable member of the Management Science and Statistics department and has always provided timely support for the faculty and students with daily requests and inquiries. It was said by the department chair that they cannot imagine how their life would be without her helping out. Beyond her departmental services, Kim has stepped up to serve the college as a course scheduler. With the new CourseLeaf scheduling system, a lot of the department chairs and faculty were facing challenges. However, Kim has always been very patient answering all the questions, providing assistance and instructions on the new system. Numerous individuals have been trained on the application and have done well. But none of the 50 plus academic schedulers, have shined more than Kim. She has taken the bull by the horn and has been stellar in learning and using the new CLSS application. No other department schedulers have accomplished what she has done. With her enthusiasm and contributions with using the new CLSS software, she made our office task of application implementation go a heck of a lot smoother. I am greatly appreciative of how Kim has performed and her willingness to assist when another department has an inquiry in using the CLSS application. Kim deserves to be recognized.
June Team Winner: The VP-Development and Relations Gift Services Team
VPDAR Gift Services Team, Maria Roberts, Alma Cantu, Susan Zorn, Nina Siebold, and Monica Casanova, are being recognized for their outstanding service during and after UTSA Giving Day. Giving Day requires much planning, communication, input and work across the University by many departments. This year UTSA raised approx. $503,637 from 2,401 donors that made 3034 gifts over 1969 minutes - that is just over 32 hours. But it is this team that makes sure the gifts are placed into the proper cost centers per the donor’s intent, individually processing each gift. It takes this dedicated team weeks to properly record, receipt and deposit all these gifts into their proper accounts, while everyone involved keeps asking “What are our numbers? What are our numbers?” Once the gifts start coming in this team has repeatedly work their hardest, including working past their day’s end, trying their hardest to get these gifts entered as quickly and accurately as possible. You may be thinking “big deal” and it is a big deal when you stop to think about what is involved. It means, during Giving Day, UTSA finds new friends to the University and having to add these new donors and their information to our database so that we may properly thank them and send them their receipts. It means some donors are looking to support their area of interest and if that area is not one listed, the team has to find the proper cost center to enter those funds. It means if the College doesn’t to have a cost center for those funds, a new cost center needs to be established. And they do all this while keeping up with the daily gifts that arrive during the same time period.
May Individual Winner: Pat Harborth, University Police Administration
Pat Harborth has severed the UTSA community for over 32 years with a cheerful disposition, a kind heart, and great sense of humor. Her excellent customer service is unmatched and has reached so many across the UTSA campus. I would bet there aren’t many people who haven’t met Pat, because her willingness to help others and the compassion she has goes beyond words. She is wise beyond her years and if you ask her anything about UTSA, policies, procedures, history, whatever it is, she always knows the answer. Pat leads by example and by sharing their knowledge in training others to do their job and is excellent at doing so. She is dear friend to all. Pat is also retiring soon, and it’s said that it will be extremely difficult to fill her shoes, as her knowledge and years of service to UTSA are unmatched. Pat has not only spent her time helping all of us at UTSA, but she was instrumental in organizing and starting the Roadrunner Cat Coalition. For over 32 years, Pat’s compassion and drive has saved many of us, but also many of our UTSA campus kitties. I know that when she retires, hearts will ache all over campus, from high level management down to her little furry friends. These were just a few reasons why Pat Harborth was awarded the May 2022 Staff Appreciation award.
April Individual Winner: Allyn Rede, COLFA Department of Communication
Allyn is an exemplary staff member who has excelled in challenging situations, such as when she became the sole full-time staff member in the Department of Communication in 2020. Prior to this time, the department had a full-time Senior Administrative Associate, a full-time Administrative Associate II, a full-time Program Coordinator, and a full-time Customer Service Technician. Due to these staffing changes, Allyn’s workload and responsibilities increased significantly, as she took on the responsibilities of these former staff members. In addition, Allyn began taking on more responsibilities for other departments, such as class scheduling, due to other staffing changes. As Allyn assumed these additional responsibilities, she assured a seamless and remarkable transition. Allyn has demonstrated leadership by finding innovative solutions tailored to the needs of individuals. For example, Allyn worked closely with a graduate student Teaching Assistant to have her paid through a work-study program instead of as an employee when that student’s family’s SNAP benefits were in jeopardy due to her additional income as a Teaching Assistant. Another significant contribution that Allyn has made is by creating a database that streamlined a process for ensuring our undergraduate senior level students can register for courses that are needed for graduation. Thanks to these efforts, the undergraduate graduation rate for Communication majors has increased. In addition to Allyn consistently providing excellent service, she has exceptional communication skills, responds to all requests in a timely manner, is courteous and respectful, and has positive rapport with all faculty, students, and staff.
March Individual Winner: Melanie Zulaica, Senior Adminstrative Associate, COLFA
During a trying year, department relocation and chair departure, Melanie has offered a sense of stability and surety in the department, effectively steering all day-to-day operations. Students, staff, and faculty all seem to approach her first with concerns and questions, and she seems to field them all, calmly and patiently, even when they fall far outside of their responsibilities. When confronted by a request outside of their duties, for example, she might tell you the best person to contact, provide you with their contact info and an explanation of the process, and then offer to email that person on your behalf. Then she would keep track of the issue to make sure it is resolved to your satisfaction. Melanie has also essentially served as an admin on a current interdisciplinary job search for a new professor, even though the search had long since been reassigned to a general COLFA-wide search, however, and so was not actually for a new hire in our department at all. Melanie was still booking rooms, watching over visiting candidates, answering questions, mapping campus directions, providing last-second PPE, and more. This on top of serving as official admin for more than one FTT search that actually was for our department (and providing unofficial guidance and support for yet another FTT search for a different department).
February Individual Winner: Annele Gonzalez, Business Service Center Specialist II, COLFA
The MLL department has been absolutely amazed by the work ethic and efficiency of Annele Gonzalez since they started. When the department lost one of its administrative associate lines, she somehow took on the job of two people when they came aboard. Making things even more difficult, she started in the middle of the pandemic and had to learn her role without the physical presence and support of any faculty members.
Finally, Annele had to immediately handle several challenging situations within the department. Simply put, things were as hard as they could possibly be for her, and she still somehow managed to do an incredible job. Annele is available, knowledgeable, helpful, and a great communicator. With every problem she has been presented with, she has been able to put out the fire and come up with a positive solution. She is an All-Star when it comes to juggling an impossible number of things. It’s been said that numerous individuals are so grateful to have her in the MLL department.
February Team Winner: Event Planning Trio - Douglas Carter, Jessica Dawson and Jessica Stanfod
This team has led the charge of integrating two systems used to schedule events on UTSA campuses. 25Live Pro and RowdyLink have been two separate steps in event planning and scheduling space. With the approval to purchase the upgraded software, this team has taken on the additional responsibilities during 2021. The integration was completed and rolled out to the campus by October 1, 2021. Through hard work and leadership, they continue to work on the integration by making corrections, training new users, and providing feedback between users and the software platforms. This project has made an absolute significant improvement to the entire UTSA community by streamlining the event planning process into one form. It makes it easier for event planners to select space and input their event details allowing for all event stakeholders to know and communicate all event details and requirements in one place. This streamlining integration additionally provides a real-time report for emergency personal to know where events are occurring at all times. Pre-pandemic, this was not possible. And this team has helped mitigate risk and streamline steps providing the perfect example of excellence in service! Although all three of these individuals are in different departments, they share a common goal of improving the event process on campus. They work very well together and have since the RowdyLink implementation in 2018. They kept everyone updated on a regular basis, and have made numerous presentations to different audiences on campus to help execute an easier transition into the streamlined process. I really appreciate everything they have done to complete this streamlined process, and everything they continue to do to make this wish a reality for our campus! This team of amazing staff is a reason we should all celebrate!
January Individual Winner: Frances Whitaker, Payroll Management Services
Frances Whitaker is a goal achiever and a big-time leader. Her service to the department and to the UTSA community as a whole, is beyond excellence. Fran knows what the team needs to help them excel in all they do and has created an awesome work/life balance for the team, as well as, makes sure that no one is overtaxed or burns out. Fran will also roll up her sleeves and jump in, to help accomplish whatever has to be done. The morale of the team has escalated, everyone seems happy to be working under the supervisor of Fran. Team members say Fran is a leader, not just a manager. She motivates and encourages everyone to be their best self, promotes inclusion and provides the same opportunities for all. Alegra Lozano wears many hats in the Honors College which she does so well. She is such a positive and transparent leader that makes our lives better. She truely cares about the health and well-being of her co-workers and students. She hosts Yoga, promotes professional development and urges everyone to be the best version of ourselves. Alegra is very approachable and welcoming to new ideas and process improvements. She gets the job done but does so in a manner that encourages our team to go above and beyond for our students. We get to work with some amazing students and help them learn new skills outside the classroom. Alegra is a source of knowledge for these students and makes a difference. Alegra has gone on study abroad trips with students under her watch and has been able to expand their global awareness. She easily connects to people through personal and professional interests. The Honors College would not be the same without Alegra and we all cherish her leadership and presence.
December Individual Winner: Alegra Lozano, Honors College
Alegra Lozano wears many hats in the Honors College which she does so well. She is such a positive and transparent leader that makes our lives better. She truely cares about the health and well-being of her co-workers and students. She hosts Yoga, promotes professional development and urges everyone to be the best version of ourselves. Alegra is very approachable and welcoming to new ideas and process improvements. She gets the job done but does so in a manner that encourages our team to go above and beyond for our students. We get to work with some amazing students and help them learn new skills outside the classroom. Alegra is a source of knowledge for these students and makes a difference. Alegra has gone on study abroad trips with students under her watch and has been able to expand their global awareness. She easily connects to people through personal and professional interests. The Honors College would not be the same without Alegra and we all cherish her leadership and presence.
November Individual Winner: Stephen Skinner, University Development
Stephen Skinner has continued to adapt and grow in the many changes within University Development. When not working on numerous university wide projects or operating as the Chief Development Officer of 3 different colleges, Stephen serves as a role model and Leader within the Development team. Over the previous year Stephen has been a key piece to his Division by serving on the COLFA Dean Search Committee, being a lead on the Giving Day Task Force for a successful Giving Day this past spring, and an Inclusive Excellence Champion within his division. When thinking about the our core values as Roadrunners and what it means to be a leader, there's not a single person that comes to mind that would be an exemplary example of all the traits encompassed.
October Individual Winner: Caitlin Farias, Life & Health Sciences Advising
Caitlin demonstrates excellent service by encouraging our team through our Team Building & Development (TBD) committee. Caitlin creates weekly “Haiku Mondays” and shares with the team. These haiku’s are uplifting and encouraging to get us started on the new work week. One of her September haiku’s titled, A Self Care Hokey Pokey read: “One breath in then one breath out. Now, straighten your spine. Stretch your arms above your head. Wiggle your fingers.” Caitlin takes the time to create these weekly haiku’s for us, and we appreciate her to brighten our Monday mornings! Caitlin also organizes birthday messages for every colleague’s birthday. This small gesture establishes a huge impact on team building moral. Our team enjoys celebrating each other. It is important to recognize each other not only for our birthdays, but for any accomplishments or celebrations happening in our personal lives. Caitlin is the last original TBD committee member and has been managing these tasks on her own. Caitlin could have quit when her other TBD members left, but she knew that keeping the TBD activities would be beneficial to our team. Her determination of putting her team first make her an exceptional leader and demonstrates leadership on a daily basis. Caitlin is also a great advisor and resource for our team. Most recently, she was asked to be a mentor for one of our newly hired advisors. Caitlin’s knowledge and fun personality makes her a perfect candidate for a mentor role.
October Team Winner: The UTSA Roadrunner Days Team
The Roadrunner Days team did such an amazing job providing great leadership and engagement opportunities for the UTSA Community. They encouraged cross division collaborative efforts, assisted in creating a succinct calendar for the staff/faculty event leads and resources for new or seasoned event leads to look at their events differently. Additionally, they created new processes for the logistical setup of Roadrunner Days with a built in assessment system, RowdyLink events for all events and a streamlined marketing plan. On top of that they also pivoted well and were a sturdy foundation when we were unsure of the future of all programs in early August.
July Individual Winner: Reuben Aleman, Veteran and Military Affairs
As a UTSA alumnus, Reuben has continued to contribute to the UTSA community by working avidly to assist our UTSA service members and veterans receive federal educational benefits and ensure our students are making a seamless transition from active military back to school. He works tirelessly ensuring our UTSA military affiliated students are informed about their VA benefits, resources, and opportunities to engage with campus organizations like the UTSA Student Veterans Association. He has continued to shine a light on many of his constituents this past year, really allowing the UTSA community to understand all the hard work and collaboration this office does with other department to ensure we are meeting students’ needs at every step of the way. Thank you for your continued effort with our students, commending your colleagues for their contribution to the UTSA community, and your valued leadership at UTSA.
July Team Winner: Distribution Services, Financial Affairs
While the majority of us remain safe at home, Distribution Services continues working on campus and running at a normal level receiving mail, packages, deliveries and our old records for retention. They created new and efficient ways for the university to receive mail and packages by developing a safe curbside pick-up at both campuses! They continued making large deliveries to laboratories, facilities and departments without hesitation. They even created a safe space and offered their warehouse as a place where departments could drop off supplies, or mail or packages, for faculty, staff and students to pick up. Someone in a Business Service Center told me that “Our department would not have been as efficient as it became if not for Distribution Services. I would make one phone call, and all my deliveries, large and small, would be at my door within 10-15 minutes, every single time. Distribution Services is reliable, friendly, and leave you feeling like you never have to worry about mail and packages while working in a virtual environment, or at all. Distribution Services has your back!
June Individual Winner: Eva Montecinos, UTS Application Development Support
Eva is a valued partner of the UTSA Veteran and Military Affairs Office, whose expertise has greatly aided VMA’s mission and ability to track student enrollment, manage state mandated end term reporting, and created cross-departmental scripts to allow a smooth and transparent application of the Texas Hazelwood exemption. It has been said that Eva’s greatest contribution was the creation of the Hazelwood Exemption Report, which streamlined the process by providing a daily script that keeps all stakeholders informed of the application of Hazelwood student accounts. Eva also built a script that aids VMA’s Hazelwood team in tracking changes in student enrollment, which has reduced the workload for the VMA office. Eva truly exemplifies all the qualities of an extraordinary program analyst and why she is our June award winner.
June Team Winner: The UTSA Academic Innovation Team
The Academic Innovation Team led the transition to remote learning for UTSA since the beginning of the pandemic. Although different departments contributed to remote learning, this team stood out as being present and highly influential and helpful during the entire pandemic, and continue to do so today. It was said that the synergy of this team has been nothing short of amazing. They provided front line support for faculty, staff, and students. They came together to provide the best support possible, serving an entire institution, with little notice to do so. They quickly became productive with learning digital tools and how to best utilize those for online remote learning. They did not hesitate to share problems and solutions to make remote learning a better experience for faculty, staff, and students, putting the student experience first.
May Individual Winner: Stacey Wells, Registrar Officer
Stacey has aided the Veteran and Military Affairs office in the Hazelwood Act exemption process and often provides valuable insight as to how the residency may impact VMA operations. Stacey also has helped the VMA office reach decisions on eligibility of initial Hazelwood Applications and always quickly responds to inquiries from our Hazelwood team. Stacey has helped our students clear up issues when involving Military Duty Statements and the application of Hazelwood Exemptions for students who have pending residency issues. Concerning Military Duty Statements, Stacey assists military members establish residency by collecting the proper Department of Defense documents to ensure our service members do not pay out of state tuition. Stacey has also helped our students navigate residency issues in order for them to utilize their hard-earned veteran benefits under the Texas Hazelwood Act. In short, Stacey’s work has greatly helped our students utilize their benefits at UTSA. She is always willing to help out our team and does so without hesitation. It is not uncommon for myself or one of our Hazelwood processors to reach out to Stacey and ask her for guidance and insight into residency issues as they pertain to veteran benefits.
May Team Winner: UTSA Student Health Services Team
COVID has created a new reality. COVID has altered every aspect of serving students in Student Health Services from the way they see students, to adapting their services, to altering a majority of their policies and paperwork. They have had to think outside-the-box and this team has excelled at compromise, innovation and teamwork. The clinic staff, from the providers, to the nurses, to the front office staff, they have maintained a steady and calming presence for our students in the midst of chaos. A welcoming greeting, a friendly smile, genuine concern and a safe haven in the storm of our new reality; This is what the clinic staff has provided our students, every day, since COVID came into our lives. The staff has displayed resiliency, adaptability, humor and kindness...daily. They never closed, and they have remained a steady resource throughout the pandemic.
April Individual Winner: Andie Watson, Veteran and Military Affairs
The Staff Appreciation Individual Award goes to Andie Watson, Veteran Certifying Official. Andie is a valued and critical part of the Veteran Certification Office team. Although 2020 was a challenging year, often working extra hours and on the weekends, the nominee tirelessly labored to ensure our students received the veteran benefits they deserve. She acts as VMA’s liaison for our students who utilize benefits while attending the UTSA Paralegal program. Her partnership with the Paralegal program has helped several veterans utilize their benefits while attending the school of Extended Education. She works well with our students and always strives to her best.
April Team Winner: Arts & Humanities Advising Center Team
The Staff Appreciation Team Award goes to the Arts & Humanities Advising Center. Jaylon Wilson nominated this team and described the support they have given him as a deaf disabled veteran that relies on reading lips to communicate. Jaylon mentioned how, “Being in a masked world right now, I have very little discussions with anyone outside of my home. This summer was a heavy load of virtual orientation advising sessions and my team stepped up beyond belief in order to help accommodate not only me but to provide excellent service to our new inbound Roadrunner students. They provide that to me each and every day. Even if they don't receive the award, it's important to me to let others know how much I appreciate them every single day.”
March Individual Winner: Kaitlin Jackson, Veteran and Military Affairs
Kaitlin Jackson currently serves as a Veteran Certifying Official I (VCO) and a valued member of the Veteran and Military Affairs (VMA) team. Initially hired as a student worker in 2018, her professionalism and work ethic earned her spot as a full-time staff member in October of 2020. Awarded a BBA in Cyber Security in December of 2020, she navigated the difficulties caused by COVID-19 with ease and confidence. Her attention to detail and positive attitude has continually been a positive reinforcement of VMA’s de
March Team Winner: Financial Aid State and Special Programs Team
Senior Financial Aid & Scholarship Officers, Nestor Esquivel & Daniel Campos, have led their team to new heights of excellence. Since 2019, the Financial Aid State and Special Programs Team (SSPT) has consistently provided outstanding support and ideas to aid in the Veteran and Military Affairs (VMAs) application of the Texas Hazelwood Act. The Hazelwood exemption process is a detailed and time-consuming activity. That said, with several years of prior experience, the SSPT has always been a reliable partner when approaching difficult approval decisions. In short, the team has been an immeasurable asset to VMA. They are unyieldingly professional and competent; always going above and beyond to achieve the team’s mission of supporting UTSA’s veteran and military-affiliated population.
February Individual Winner: Ty Middleton, Human Resource Services
Tymeeka "Ty" Middleton is relatively new to UTSA, but is absolutely a rising star. She brings a ton of extraordinary experience to UTSA, including a military career and many years as an HR professional. Ty is professional and positive, produces results quickly, and is incredibly creative and innovative. As a manager, she listens, is respectful of the history that has come before and trusts the team to do their job and implement the work with no hint of micromanaging. Additionally, Ty tracks all requests and is committed to responding in a timely manner. Her team as Human Resource Services confirms it is a pleasure to work with Ty and they adamantly believes she is a shining asset to UTSA. Staff Senate agrees!
February Team Winner: Payroll Services Team, Financial Affairs
Payroll Services truly defines the word teamwork. They consistently pull together during difficult times to ensure the employees of UTSA do not go without. The team does this without being asked, and it truly represents their character, work ethic, and loyalty to their department, financial affairs, and the employees of UTSA. Prior to the pandemic, the Payroll team would assist customers in person, and have since challenged themselves to provide the same level of customer service during this pandemic while interacting with customers via email, phone, and TEAMS. As one example of their dedication, many have witnessed Payroll provide one-on-one training to employees who could not attend one of their large training sessions. This team goes above and beyond to ensure every question is answered, every problem is resolved, and every UTSA employee is paid correctly and on time.
January Individual Winner: Diana Martinez, Honors College
Diana once said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful for students to receive the information they’ve been admitted to UTSA, awarded a Distinguished Presidential Scholarship, AND are eligible to join the Honors College all at one time?” Well, what was once casually mentioned in a meeting has now put in place an extraordinary, transformative admission process for students entering the Honors College as of Fall 2021. Patiently addressing questions, providing explanations, and making recommendations, Diana has worked tirelessly with Honors College staff to prepare for the new program’s implementation during the past three months. With an eye to the future, current and new students will benefit from the policies and procedures impacted by Diana’s unyielding willingness to collaborate and guide those around her.
January Team Winner: The College of Business Center for Student Professional Development Team
The College of Business Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) team was quick to adapt to the new virtual format and has found innovative ways to continue providing programs and services to students. Since moving to a strictly online format, the CSPD has created an online internship module, which has been viewed by over 1000 students since it was launched this past April. They have diligently kept students informed of remote internship opportunities throughout the launch of the Internship Stories on all social media channels. The team also developed monthly articles in LinkedIn to share recommended LinkedIn Learning Courses with students, aiming to especially reach those whose internships and full-time jobs have been interrupted due to the pandemic. CSPD’S goal has continuously been to keep students engaged and let them know that they are actively present and available to support their success. This is an extraordinary team of dedicated and hardworking individuals!
December Individual Winner: Sgt. Eric Weber, University Police
Sgt. Weber continues to go above and beyond in his daily job responsibilities. As the training sergeant for the police department, he is responsible for ensuring that our staff meet state licensing requirements and continuing education. During the summer budget cuts, he arranged for free training for our officers to become bicycle certified prior to the Fall semester. He then collaborated with campus contacts to provide free housing for the instructors on campus. This resulted in excellent training at no cost to UTSA. He has saved the department thousands of dollars through his keen efforts in locating free furniture and equipment through surplus services and vacating offices! He completely furnished a new facility for the Police Department at the Student Union at no cost to our department. Sgt. Weber continues to go above and beyond his job duties illustrating what it means to be a UTSA Roadrunner through hard work, motivation, leadership, and excellence.
December Team Winner: The UTSA Digital Learning Team
Each member of the Digital Learning Team works with an assigned college to provide best practices for online teaching and troubleshooting for issues with Blackboard Learn, course design, and course management in the online learning environment. They also provide ease of access with office hours for course design, the implementation of quality standards for faculty and student success, and improved digital accessibility overall. Moreover, the Digital Learning Team has created over 200 resources such as video tutorials for students and instructors for online learning and teaching. Additionally, they created a Student Support Hub, with resources that benefit both students, faculty, and staff when navigating courses at UTSA. This team has gone above and beyond in support of faculty transitioning their courses online during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
November Individual Winner: Dr. Kacey Neece-Fielder
I have had the privilege of working for Dr. Neece-Fielder for many years now. Since Dr. Neece-Fielder has been in our office, she has led our team from just working together, to a “well-oiled” team. She provides excellent service to all personnel that she comes in contact with. It does not matter how big or small the task or question, she treats each person the same – with kindness and a smile. One of her many leadership qualities was being the main point of contact for the Racing to Reaccreditation. Kasey worked tirelessly in making sure all the requirements were met and that the visit was as flawless as possible. After many years and months working for the SACSCOC Reaccreditation, COVID-19 hit. Kasey waited patiently for new dates, then started up the process again – this time virtually. Between Kasey and others, the meetings were arranged and ready for August 3-6, 2020. All her hard work paid off and we were pleased to find out that we had the status of “No Recommendations” from the SACSCOC reviewers. This is quite a feat to achieve. We are so happy and honored to have Kasey in our office.
November Team Winner: Undergraduate Admission Processing Center Team
We recognize a team that has been challenged with the continuous changes and effects of COVID-19. The Undergraduate Admissions Processing team, under the leadership of Brandy Garcia, Morgan Beard, and Jenny Hernandez, accomplished the following during the competition of Fall 2020:
- Implemented a more automated process to deal with transfer student transcripts
- Created a process to become test-optional (SAT/ACT) admissions
- Brought online the new Common Application for Fall 2021
- Helped the guide the Admissions Processing team to finish the Freshmen application decisions a full two weeks faster than last year; even with 5,280 more Freshmen applications to process than in fall 2019
We want to acknowledge your hard work and leadership as your team continues to strives for excellence.
October Individual Winner: Dr. Amanda Haley, Senior Director of Lab Safety & Compliance
Dr. Amanda Haley serves as the Senior Director of Lab Safety & Compliance at UTSA. Her colleagues describe her as “an exceptional leader with competent management skills, while providing outstanding customer service to our UTSA community.” Throughout the past year, she has strategically redesigned her team based on their strengths and expertise, continuing maximizing her team to their best! Dr. Haley has worked tirelessly ensuring her team members’ safety with the student and PI labs throughout the pandemic. With five different nominations from her own team, Dr. Haley illustrates the commitment to her team, service to our UTSA students, and the community at large.
October Team Winner: The Freshman & International Recruitment Team
The Freshman and International Recruitment Team works with prospective UTSA students. Half of the team is based out of San Antonio and the other half of the team is regionally based throughout the State of Texas. This team works hard year-round, but also gives it their all during 15 weeks of travel season representing UTSA at college fairs throughout the state. Additionally, a few members of the team represent the institution out of state and throughout the world to recruit high achieving students. The team dedicates long hours to represent UTSA in the best light at college fairs, provides presentations to high school students, counselors, parents, conducts individual admission counseling, and tailored specific programming for students. They are the first impression that prospective students see of the institution. None of this would have been accomplished without the dedication and hard work of the staff and leadership of our fearless leader, Beverly Woodson Day. Everyone on this team is passionate about student success, collaborating with our campus and external partners, and providing excellent customer service. They are the secret squirrels that search and recruit the top students from all areas of the state and world. The team has already started to work with the Class of 2021 students!
July Winner: Courtney Balderas-Jacob, Dreamers Resource Center
Courtney has spent the past two years building the Dreamers Resource Center. Through this development, she has supported thousands of students through building strong partnerships with community organizations like working with our local attorneys to offer immigration support for our Dreamer students. She continues to advocate for institutional changes to better support our Dreamer students’ needs. The UTSA Community acknowledges her work with the development of the Dreamer Ally training which has trained nearly 500 UTSA faculty, staff, and students. The center has been acknowledged by Excelencia in Education with the nomination for the center and its continued work with Dreamer students.
June Winner: Kaye Steinhour, Financial Services Associate II
Kaye Steinhour, Financial Services Associate II, is our June 2020 award recipient because she provides exceptional services to students, faculty, and staff. She demonstrates leadership qualities and has made a significant contribution within Financial Services, her team, and within the UTSA Community. It has been said that Kaye often receives positive comments regarding her interactions and how she relieves frustrations of those customers that have hit a wall in prior conversations. Kaye is believed to have significantly improved the customer service in Financial Services. Congratulations to you, Kaye, our Staff Appreciation Award winner for June 2020.
April Winner: Ginger Hernandez, Manager of Administrative Support Operations
Ginger Hernandez is described an exceptional candidate for the Staff Senate Staff Appreciation award and has worked in the Graduate School for over 10 years. During that time, the Graduate School has seen many leadership changes, staff changes, and location changes. Change is not always welcomed, but it is the one thing you can count on in life. Even through all the changes and challenges, this person has remained a loyal leader within the Graduate School. During times of staff shortages, Ginger has been instrumental in making sure there is proper coverage for the office; all the time being mindful of the needs of the individual teams. Her dedication to the Graduate School and our staff is evident through her actions and leadership. To summarize, Ginger’s leadership within the Graduate School allowed for a practically seamless transition. This person is a fantastic representative for UTSA and will always go the extra mile, with a smile.
March Winner: William Lansdon, Program Coordinator - Veteran & Military Affairs
According to Dr. Michael Logan, “William’s drive to take the lessons from his own transition and apply them toward elevating UTSA from simply being military friendly in name to being military friendly in practice sets a high bar for serving our students. As a disabled veteran himself, William brings a perspective to his position that truly informs meaningful change in the service of his peers at UTSA.” An example of William’s service includes going above and beyond to assist with a grant to provide a service animal to one of our student veterans. He was also able to help in the process of having a car donated to a student veteran who lacked transportation. Additionally, he coordinated a partnership with UTSA Housing and VetsStrong which aims to reduce the reoccurrence of homelessness by providing furnishings and housewares to veterans who have recently acquired housing. To summarize, William has made significant improvements in the way UTSA serves its sizeable military affiliated population (16% of all UTSA students). He has exercised initiative to develop innovative partnerships demonstrating his uncanny ability and his willingness to go above and beyond to support our students when and where needed.
February Winner: Cindy Dermody, Senior Assistant Registrar
Cindy truly exemplifies the core values of UTSA. I have witnessed her collaborating with other departments to ensure we are adequately servicing our students. Have a question? Ask Cindy and if she does not know she would relentlessly work until she gets an answer. Her willingness to help goes beyond the office, specifically, every Monday, Cindy comes in with a bag of groceries for the roadrunner pantry. Very recently, while leaving campus, one of our co-workers fell on some steps in her presence. Using her extensive list of contacts, Cindy worked diligently to make sure the step was fixed immediately preventing someone else from falling. She is always approachable and on a daily basis you could see her moving briskly around campus.
January Winner: Jolyn Demarest, Occupational Health Coordinator
Jolyn was chosen as the January award recipient in part due to her excellent customer service. She also demonstrates leadership qualities and has made a significant contribution within her department and the UTSA Community. Although not everyone is familiar with Jolyn’s position, when they find out what she does, they are glad to know her! As the Occupational Health Coordinator, she helps researchers get the clearance they need to work in the labs and keeps facilities employees up on all vaccinations to ensure their safety while working on the job. Essentially, you can say Jolyn is there for the health and safety of all UTSA employees. She has even gone as far as giving up her own lunch to a staff member on the verge of fainting to help them regain their strength. One staff member noted that Jolyn has always performed her duties “with great conversation, a positive attitude, and a winning smile.” Congratulations to Jolyn!
December Winner: Heather Shattuck, Academic Advisor IV
Heather has been with Life and Health Sciences Advising since 2016. In that time, she has served as an Academic Advisor I and, as of 2019, an Academic Advisor IV. In addition to her student advising duties, she has implemented new practices, developed advisor trainings, and mentored new advisors. Through the years, Heather has shown that she is committed to performing her job to the highest of standards. On behalf of the entire UTSA family, we would like to extend our appreciation for your hard work and dedication. Your professionalism is a source of inspiration and we look forward to supporting you in all your future accomplishments. You are a true rock-star on our team! Thank you once again for all your effort. -UTSA Staff Council