MSU Celebrates 2022 Award Winners

This year, Michigan State University celebrates staff for their hard work and dedication by awarding the annual Retirement and Service Recognition, the Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award, and the Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award. We acknowledge and are thankful to all our support staff.

Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards

The Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards honor six MSU support staff members annually. Colleagues submit nominations of individuals who demonstrate the qualities of Jack Breslin, who served MSU as a student leader, honored athlete, top administrator, and steadfast advocate, personifying the “Spartan Spirit.” Awardees display overall excellence in job performance, supportive attitude, and contributions. This year’s awardees are:

Linda Cornish

Linda Cornish is the Director of Operations and Division Administrator in the Division of Public Health in the College of Human Medicine. She has more than 17 years of executive management experience and oversees operations for the building, education, research, and community mission of the Division. Linda is known for her transformational leadership, facilitating critical conversation, and her ability to focus on long-term operational business strategies. Linda’s colleagues had this to say about her:

“Linda’s many skills, commitment to excellence, and attention to detail were valuable during the transition to remote work due to the pandemic. Most appreciated throughout this crisis has been Linda’s obvious care and concern for people and their needs – especially the MSU faculty, staff, and students she serves.”

“As a new employee, Linda was the consummate professional who helped me with any of my questions or concerns. Now that I have been here for three years, I know I can always depend on her to answer questions, even if they do not relate to her areas of responsibility. In short, DPH could not function as it does without her.”

Sandi Cox

Sandi is a Secretary III in University Advancement and provides administrative support for regional advancement staff. She has been with MSU for over 13 years and with University Advancement for more than five years. Sandi has an outstanding work ethic, takes a collaborative approach, and goes above and beyond for her team. Sandi consistently exhibits excellence in her job performance, and her willingness to take on additional responsibilities is noticed and appreciated by all of those she supports. Her colleagues had this to say about her:

“Sandi has a curiosity and readiness to learn, which benefits those around her. She spends time perfecting new tools and gaining experience with new procedures and systems. She is a lifelong learner seeking new challenges personally and professionally. She has completed two degrees while working at MSU – one in Kinesiology and one in Communications.”

“Sandi goes out of her way to make colleagues feel valued and appreciated by sending thoughtful cards and care packages. If someone has a tough day, she is the first to reach out with encouraging words.”

“We believe that Sandi Cox exemplifies all you wish to recognize through the Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award. Sandi has an outstanding work ethic, a collaborative approach, a strategic mind, and, most importantly, a kind and generous spirit that is a joy to have in our office and part of our team.”

Jill Cruth

Jill is the Academic Program Coordinator in Fisheries and Wildlife. She coordinates the administrative functions for post-graduate academic programs, including admissions, academic advising, academic progress and graduation, and more. In her 21 years with the department, Jill has had increasingly more responsibilities, all of which are critical to the successful operation of the department. Jill is also very active in outreach and engagement at the university and within the local community. She has served on multiple committees, including but not limited to the Women’s Advisory Committee for Finance, Personnel, and Operations, CANR Staff Advisory Committee, and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Committee. Here is what her colleagues had to say:

“Jill is a dedicated professional respected by faculty and adored by students. Her commitment to student success and well-being is beyond compare.”

“Jill consistently finds opportunities to improve how she does her job, which translates into overall improvement for the department. She identifies and attends appropriate professional development opportunities. Her commitment to learning on the job has been particularly evident this past year as the university continues to implement new systems such as Slate and Campus Solutions.”

Matthew Jackson

Matthew Jackson is the managing Director for the Management Education Center in Troy. He manages the financial, personnel, and operational activities of the Management Education Center. Matt provides outreach, engagement, and conference center services to the Detroit area business community on behalf of the MSU Eli Broad College of Business. He is the fiscal officer for the unit and leads the MEC team in sales, event management, and technical services. Matthew has served in various capacities with the facility for more than 40 years, integral to its continued transformation into one of the top meeting destinations for organizations in southeast Michigan. Here is what his colleagues had to say:

“Over the years, Mr. Jackson has developed broad expertise and deep insight into all aspects of the facility, allowing him to develop innovative solutions to the challenges of a nearly 50-year-old

building. Every day, he amazes me with his dedication to excellence and willingness to go above and beyond to seek perfection in an imperfect world.”

“When he assumed leadership for the facility, he created a more open, transparent, and collaborative relationship amongst his team, which created a client-focused, trust-based environment. He has nurtured relationships with many external organizations that support the facility.”

“Matthew lifts the entire staff at MEC to excellence, and he does so by truly leading by example. His kind and hands-on approach to tackling all problems helps alleviate stress and restores calm.”

Rebecca Kegler

Rebecca is the Assistant Director for Recreational Sports and Fitness Services. She administers every aspect of the Group Fitness program, including up to 30 instructors at a time. She coordinates all spaces in multiple buildings and outdoors to organize a robust group fitness program of over 20 disciplines and formats. Rebecca collaborates with multiple on-campus units to reach a diverse audience of students, faculty, staff, and retirees. She has a great relationship with her peers and campus collaborators. Student organizations and academic units reach out to her for special classes for their specific populations. Here is what Rebecca’s colleagues had to say about her:

“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebecca sought and utilized shared knowledge of colleagues across the State and B1G Ten to identify and act upon the needs of the new world of Virtual Group Fitness. What resulted from this effort was a new group fitness program, Fresh Air Fitness, that used our beautiful outdoor gardens and other scenic outdoor spaces for group exercise.”

“Rebecca is a person who volunteers and expresses a willingness to undertake service to the campus community and professional organizations. She currently is a member of the MSU University Well-Being Coalition Steering Committee, which is a network of university partners working cross-functionally toward creating and strengthening a culture of sustainable and equitable health and well-being at MSU.”

Dale Schmitt

Dale is a Welder II for the Maintenance Services Electrical Utility Crew in Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. His crew supports installing and maintaining high voltage cabling, street lights, and associated equipment. He could be welding a safety handrail, piping, or a football goal post on any given day. He may operate heavy equipment to dig a hole, bore in an electrical cable, jump in during an emergency to repair a water main break, or haul snow during a winter storm. Here is what Dale’s colleagues had to say about him:

“Dale possesses a unique ability to create solutions for particularly challenging projects. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences recently requested we remove a large satellite dish that collapsed. Dale was the first to come to mind for this job. He arrived and minutes later, sketched out his plan and completed it in half the estimated time. Dale takes this approach to every job. He creates solutions, finds efficiencies, and delivers excellence.”

“Dale provides excellent customer service with a can-do attitude that builds trusting relationships between building occupants and IPF. When there is a commitment to a customer, he understands the importance of their needs and strives to meet them. Dale recognizes the university is a team, and the trust he built has resulted in others eager to assist him in return.”

Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award

This annual award recognizes a support staff member who most closely exemplifies the contributions, personal characteristics, and commitment to MSU demonstrated by Ms. Ruth Jameyson, going “above and beyond” expectations in supporting the mission of MSU. In recognition of Ms. Jameyson’s pursuit of a graduate degree, while working at MSU, the award recipient must be pursuing a graduate degree at MSU or elsewhere concurrent with their employment at MSU.

The recipient this year is Elizabeth (Lizz) Duran. She is the MSU Extension 4-H Program Coordinator for the Children and Youth Institute. She has been with MSU for nine years and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts from MSU in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education. Lizz is a colleague who stands out in her leadership, professionalism, and passion for community service. Her colleagues have this to say about her:

“Lizz is a reliable leader committed to providing quality programming to her community. She is responsible for a large and diverse county and has often been the only staff person in her county. During these times, Lizz successfully balances her time to engage and develop youth and adult volunteers in her county from various programs. She always goes above and beyond to make sure youth and adult volunteers have opportunities to engage in programs, training, and opportunities that fit their needs and interests.”

“Lizz is patient and persistent with her family and community partners. She remains courteous, professional, and optimistic, even through challenges. The families and partners she works with know that they can count on her presence.”

“Lizz is genuine and is a joy to be around throughout my time working with her. She creates a welcoming and friendly environment for every project we have worked on together. She is always positive and willing to help other colleagues stay motivated and forward-thinking. She is a true representation of the Ruth Jameyson Above and Beyond Award.”

Congratulations to all award winners once again for their outstanding work. MSU would not be where it is today without the help of our incredible staff. We invite the colleagues and friends of these receipts to congratulate and appreciate these individuals.

Nominate an Employee for the 2022 Clerical-Technical Recognition Award Today!

Do you work with an outstanding MSU employee performing clerical-technical duties? Acknowledge their hard work and dedication to MSU by nominating them for the Clerical-Technical (CT) Recognition Award! Nominations are now being accepted through Friday, July 29, 2022, at 5p.m.

The winner of this annual award is selected based on the following criteria:

  • Respect of their peers and continuous diligence in attending to their daily responsibilities.
  • Concern for students, faculty, staff, and colleagues in their respective units, particularly (but not limited to) those assisting overseas U.S. students and faculty, international students, international faculty, etc.
  • Extraordinary and significant contributions to the community or public service.
  • Innovative thinking in facilitating unit tasks and responsibilities.

Individuals may be nominated by any member of the MSU community, and the recipient will be selected by the CT Recognition Award Selection Committee. The winner will be profiled in the HR Source monthly newsletter and will receive a monetary award of $1,000 from the endowment fund in recognition of their outstanding service.

This award is given by the Thomas and Concettina Gliozzo Endowment Fund. Charles Gliozzo is director emeritus of MSU’s Study Abroad program. Thomas and Concettina Gliozzo were immigrants who became U.S. citizens and valued the importance of education throughout their lives.

How to Nominate an Employee

To nominate an individual:

  1. Complete a nomination form
  2. Collect a minimum of two support letters (maximum of five) by MSU colleagues. You may include additional information if it supports the applicant’s nomination.

Please Note: nominees must be part of the CT Union.

Nominations are due by 5:00 p.m., Friday, July 29, 2022. Email the PDF nomination form with a minimum of two support letters to with the subject line: CT Recognition Award Selection Committee.

Put Mental Health First on Employee Appreciation Day and Beyond

Employee Appreciation Day (Friday, March 4, 2022) is an opportunity for MSU employees to reflect on how you prioritize your mental health, how you talk about it with your supervisors, and how supervisors can show appreciation by supporting the mental health of their employees. Emphasize rest and recognition, learn about your self-care preferences and learn how to utilize the resources available to you!

Why we prioritize

Mental health should be treated like physical health. It should be discussed as normally as physical illnesses especially because physical and mental health can be connected. We should prioritize mental health because it has spent so long in the background. To break that cycle, put your mental health first and make it part of your everyday conversations.

Other reasons to prioritize mental health include:

  • Having high job demands makes it easy to put work over mental health, but it is not worth it in the long run
  • In a time of mostly online interactions, some of the natural in-person social interactions that are missing can inadvertently lower well-being
  • Therapy is still stigmatized, and prioritizing mental health helps release that

Self-care ideas

Becoming burnt out at work is easier than you might think, and the best way to tackle or prevent burnout is self-care. Engaging in self-care in the simplest terms is making sure that as you prioritize work, you also prioritize sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Other suggestions for self-care include:

  • Unplugging when social media and news get overwhelming
  • Treat yourself with compassion no matter how you respond to burnout
  • Enjoy the little things like an ice cream cone or some alone time with your pet
  • Close your laptop at the end of the workday and do your best not to open it again until the morning
  • Seek out help from an expert rather than relying on yourself or your team for mental health related answers

Start the conversation with your team

You don’t have to be the supervisor on your team to start a discussion around mental health. Use empathy to address situations regarding mental health and give space your coworkers space to speak openly about their experience. If you aren’t sure how to start the conversation, use the MSU resources linked below and ease into it.

If you are a supervisor, here are four ways you can show appreciation for your team in support of their mental wellbeing:

  1. Show sincere interest in the needs, hopes and dreams of other people
  2. Watch for signs of burnout in yourself and others
  3. Demonstrate a willingness to help others and refer to appropriate resources
  4. Lead with compassion to contribute to a welcoming and inclusive workplace culture

Michigan State University recognizes the value of its employees and to show appreciation for the important work we all do, the university’s Worklife Office provides a variety of resources to support our wellbeing: 

Take a moment this Employee Appreciation Day to not only be thanked by those around you but also by your body as you begin to prioritize and destigmatize your own mental health.

2021 Gliozzo Clerical Technical Award Recipient Announced

Congratulations to Jamie Lake, the recipient of this year’s Clerical-Technical Recognition Award!

The Clerical-Technical Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Concettina Gliozzo Endowment Fund and recognizes outstanding clerical-technical employees. Jamie was selected for the award this year because of her outstanding work as a Secretary II staff member in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. She is known to take her job seriously and care about professionalism while also showing empathy and support for everyone around her. 

Jamie was nominated for this award by Jill Cruth, the Academic Coordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, who, along with many other staff and faculty in the department, shared kind words and great examples of why she deserves to be recognized. A few of these examples include how this past year, when a co-worker in the Fisheries and Wildlife Office got sick, Jamie took on even more responsibility; and when a visiting scholar from Nigeria seemed homesick, Jamie decorated her office to make her feel at home and welcomed at MSU. 

Jamie is also involved in the community, especially with her church’s youth programs and her passion for nature, which fits her role perfectly in Fisheries and Wildlife. She has cleaned up trash in the Great Lakes and is raising pheasants to release into the wild with the goal of raising the population of the endangered species. 

Jamie is a problem solver who acts on issues without being asked. This great attribute to the department has resulted in an updated and more frequent social media presence, rewards for surveys conducted by faculty members, and even a new protocol for quickly and efficiently teaching faculty and student employees about the office systems. 

Jamie had this to say about winning the prestigious award: 

“I am humbled to accept the Gliozzo CT award. Winning this award recognizes [that] the support I provide is genuinely appreciated by my colleagues and I am thankful to each one of them. I’m super grateful to be working in the Fisheries and Wildlife department, with the most amazing faculty, staff, and students.”

Congratulations Jamie for your incredible work in your department and at Michigan State!

MSU Celebrates 2021 Award Winners!

This year we are celebrating staff from around Michigan State for their hard work and dedication to our University and their craft by awarding the annual Retirement and Service Recognition, the Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award and the Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award! The University acknowledges and thanks all our wonderful support staff, especially during this past year.

MSU Retirement and Service Recognition

The MSU Retirement and Service Recognition recognizes support staff employees celebrating long-term service work anniversaries of 15+ years, as well as employees who have recently retired within the last fiscal year. This year, we recognize over 700 employees celebrating long term work anniversaries and retirements. Thank you for your years of dedicated service to MSU! Click here to view a full list of those celebrating this year.

Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards

The Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards honor six University support staff members annually. These individuals are nominated by their colleagues as demonstrating the qualities of Jack Breslin, who served MSU as a student leader, honored athlete, top administrator and steadfast advocate, personifying the “Spartan Spirit.” Award honorees display overall excellence in job performance, supportive attitude and contributions to their unit and the University. This year’s awardees are:

Allyson Cole-Strauss

Cole-Strauss is a Research Assistant II in the department of Translational Neuroscience. She develops research methodology, runs experiments, and analyzes data for the lab. She was specifically nominated because of her dedication to keeping the university safe during COVID-19 through the creation of the COVID-19 Early Detection Program. Cole-Strauss’ colleagues had this to say about her:

“I have worked with Allyson for 15 years as her supervisor. Never have I had the privilege to work with a more dedicated, giving and capable scientist.”

“The contributions to the department, university, and community from Allyson Cole-Strauss go well above and beyond anybody’s reasonable expectations. Michigan State University is a much better place thanks to Allyson’s tireless efforts, both before and during the pandemic.”

Genevieve Cotrell

Cotrell is a Chemical Safety Officer in the Department of Environmental Health and Safety. She manages and directs all functions of safe work with chemicals across the University including the creation and delivery of emergency training to the campus community. She has also taken a leadership role in reopening the MSU campus by joining the COVID-19 reopening task force as the representative from her department. Cottrell’s colleagues had this to say about her:

“Genevieve is an excellent leader in the way she handles her team of employees with respect and acknowledges the importance of work-life balance. She understands the critical need for training and professional development as well as maintaining a two-way dialog so as not to overwork her crew. She even takes the time to sincerely inquire about our families and insists we take the time we need when we need it.”

“Genevieve is truly my greatest role model. As a young woman professional, Genevieve takes the time to help her employees gain knowledge, regardless of how chaotic her schedule might be. She gladly meets with her team each week to discuss any issue. Whether it takes fifteen minutes or three hours, Genevieve will always make time for those she cares about.”

Robert Goodwin

Goodwin is a Senior Geospatial Analyst in the Department of Geography. In the department, Goodwin authorizes outreach project proposals and budgets, is the lead trainer for workshops offered by the department, a regular consultant to the University and a manager of analysts, technicians, and developers. Goodwin’s colleagues had this to say about him:

“If Bob has ever asked himself if he made a difference in someone’s life, he no longer has to wonder. The way Bob communicates with his peers and clients is unlike anything I have seen. The experience I gain simply listening to him in a meeting cannot be measured. He is a true mentor and someone we can all learn a thing or two from.”

“I have had the distinct pleasure of being both a colleague and a supervisor for Bob Goodwin. At his core, Bob is an entrepreneur, critical thinker, and problem solver. Working at RS&GIS, a self-supporting research unit, these skills have been critical to the success of the organization’s research and outreach mission. He is always seeking continuous improvement and pushing an innovative spirit throughout the team.”

Peter Murray

Murray is a Systems Analyst II in the James Madison College. His job responsibilities include working as the director of facilities and technology, troubleshooting and coordinating technology and purchases, and overseeing the building repairs and maintenance. He also directly supervises student employees. Murray’s colleagues had this to say about him:

“Peter’s exceptional support intersects almost every functional area of our college. Beyond supporting the technology at JMC, more importantly, Peter supports the people at JMC. Peter is such an important part of our staff and I simply cannot imagine what our college would be like without him.”

“Peter is not someone to attract attention even if he stands out in a room while trying to stay hidden. He is a valuable asset to the College, and we would be worse off without him. When I mentioned his great work to a colleague across campus that person told me she was going to stop listening – in other words, encouraging me to stop talking – so that someone else wouldn’t try to steal him away from James Madison College.”

Aaron Walworth

Walworth is a Research Assistant III, also known as Laboratory Manager in the department of Packaging. His job includes responsibilities such as overseeing the packaging labs and classroom spaces and working with IPF to make sure maintenance is up to date. He also hires, trains and supervises undergraduate and graduate students and actively pursues professional development opportunities offered within and outside the university. Walworth’s colleagues had this to say about him:

“Aaron is an integral part of every graduate student’s academic life starting from the first day of graduate student orientation. He empowers student competence and learning through safety training and by offering guidance on best practices for conducting research. His genuine enthusiasm for science and commitment to helping everyone he comes across, allows him to easily connect with each student. He is always willing to take the time to astutely discuss each student’s research and how to tailor an approach based on the resources we have available.”

“Aaron Walworth is a tremendously important part of the School of Packaging, and hence MSU as a whole. We cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of the Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award.”

Kim Williams

Williams is an Office Assistant III in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Specifically, she is an account specialist on the Accounting and Research Team in the Dean’s Office. In her position, she handles travel, purchase orders, and operating statements for the Media and Information department and the School of Journalism. Williams’ colleagues had this to say about her:

“Whatever my question is, Kim will get the answer. Not only is she incredible at her job, she is also a pleasure to be around. Her sense of humor, and go-to attitude is truly [admirable]. No matter how stressful the assignment is, it is still a pleasure to work alongside Kim.”

“Her diligence when she encounters a problem to be solved is inspiring and she is always willing to walk the extra mile to get things done in a timely manner. Kim also possesses a great attention to detail, never letting anything go unnoticed.”

Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award

This annual award recognizes a support staff member who most closely exemplifies the contributions, personal characteristics, and commitment to MSU demonstrated by Ms. Ruth Jameyson, going “above and beyond” what is reasonably expected in supporting the mission of MSU. In recognition of Ms. Jameyson’s own pursuit of a graduate degree while working at MSU, the award recipient must be pursuing a graduate degree at MSU or elsewhere concurrent with their employment at MSU.

This year’s recipient is Kelly Feinberg. She is a Research Administrator II/S in the Dean’s Office of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Feinberg is currently pursuing a graduate degree in strategic communication from MSU. Her colleagues have this to say about her:

“Ms. Feinberg is a natural born leader – showing true leadership where she is forward thinking but also completely aware of her colleagues. She leads by example and facilitates open discussion with her team, holding each other accountable every step of the way. Yet she does so with true concern for their quality of life and job fulfillment.”

“Ms. Feinberg is dedicated to supporting and advancing Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) efforts in the College and among her peers. She participates in various initiatives focused on strengthening individual and collective commitments to anti-racism, social justice, and action within ComArtSci and elsewhere. She actively looks for ways to support and engage her peers and prioritizes their ideas, interests, and concerns as if they were her own.”

“I am proud to have the privilege of working alongside Ms. Feinberg. Observing how her contributions positively impact those around her, I often find myself in awe of her continued drive, motivation, and applied diplomacy. You have a worthy candidate in Ms. Feinberg whom, I expect, Ms. Jameyson would have likewise valued.”

The University would like to congratulate all award winners once again for their outstanding work. MSU would not be where it is today without the help of our incredible staff. We invite the colleagues and friends of these receipts to congratulate and appreciate these individuals so they continue to get the recognition they deserve.

Connect with Your Co-Workers on Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day (March 5, 2021) reminds us to connect with and recognize the awesome people we work with every day. After a full year of remote work and social distancing, it’s no surprise many of us are feeling more disconnected than ever. According to Employee Benefit News, “While COVID-19 has exacerbated the effects of isolation on employees, loneliness in the workplace has been a growing problem. A pre-pandemic survey by Cigna found that more than 60% of employees were lonely at work.” If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone and that there are small steps you can take to feel more connected.

While adding one more task to your to-do list may feel impossible, taking time to connect with or recognize your co-workers can improve your well-being tremendously. These interactions don’t have to be elaborate; a virtual chat over morning coffee with a few co-workers can do wonders for your mental health. And there’s no need to wait for a supervisor to initiate these activities. Reach out, connect and recognize your co-workers in a way and at a time that works for you.

Need some ideas to get started? Here are some ways to connect with and recognize your coworkers both one-on-one and all together:

  1. Take a virtual workout class together. Do you miss that afternoon walk or evening workout class with your co-worker? MSU Recreational Sports and Fitness Services offers virtual group classes over Zoom and Fitness On Demand, which gives you over 1,000 classes to choose from. Additionally, benefit-eligible employees have access to MSU Benefits Plus, which allows you to explore Global Fit’s growing library of free virtual classes and resources. Login to MSU Benefits Plus, click on Discount Shopping in the top navigation then type “Global Fit” in the search box to find a link to the digital resource library.
  2. Join or set-up an online coffee break to chat and check-in. Are there people you used to regularly talk with in-person that you now only communicate with via email? A regular coffee break just to check in could be an easy way to connect, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.
  3. Engage new team members. If your team has new employees, they’ve probably never seen their co-workers face-to-face. And without those unstructured points of connection between team members — coffee breaks, walking to a meeting together, etc. — it can be hard to connect with others on topics outside of work-related matters. Why not try some virtual icebreakers to help everyone get to know each other? While “icebreakers” can sound a bit cheesy, the conversations that result can be great for helping people feel more connected. MSU Extension has a list of 65 icebreaker questions for online meetings to help. Here in HR, we have a Get to Know Your HR Colleagues questionnaire that people have the option to fill out, and then we share their answers in our internal newsletter.
  4. Learn something new as a team. Ask your supervisor or manager about setting up a training program for your whole team or unit to participate in together. We suggest you check out MSU Health4U’s new Virtual Health and Well-Being Sampler Series, which is offered to units and departments. Participating units will have a chance to map out a custom, six-week course series with classes about emotional wellness, food and nutrition, and movement and fitness.
  5. Team-led virtual lunch and learn sessions. Do you have co-workers with extensive knowledge on a specific topic or a cool hobby? Ask a team member to share what they know or give a demonstration during a lunch break.
  6. Play a virtual game. There are a variety of games your team can play virtually for some lighthearted fun. From collaborative online games to virtual scavenger hunts, google “online games for remote teams” and see which ones would work best for you and your co-workers.
  7. Step away from your computer and take a break outside. Spring is right around the corner and soon it will be nice enough to take a stroll outside in the sunshine. Check-in with a co-worker on the phone while you take a quick walk or sit outside.
  8. Send a shout-out to your co-worker to recognize all the great work they do. You could email them directly, give them kudos in your department newsletter, or send a Spartan Shout-Out to the InsideMSU newsletter that goes to all MSU employees (email kudos to
  9. Mail a Thank You Note or Token of Appreciation: during one the busiest times of the year here in HR, my supervisor mailed me a bag of coffee from a shop local to her as a token of appreciation. The gesture was so kind and unexpected, it improved my mood immensely and instantly made me feel more connected to the team. While you may not be able to send your coworkers gifts, a hand-written note or postcard letting them know you’re grateful for them can be a great way to recognize their contributions.

Feel free to think outside the box and come up with ideas that better suit you and your coworkers’ personalities. Taking time to connect with and recognize your co-workers — no matter how brief — can do wonders to improve your well-being and team morale overall. As a reminder, if you’re struggling with your mental health and need to talk to a professional, be sure to utilize your employee mental health resources.


Place, A., & Nedlund, E. (2020, December 7). WFH loneliness is the latest virtual challenge for employers. Employee Benefit News.

MSU Celebrates 2020 Award Winners!

The University acknowledges and expresses its gratitude for both long-term support staff and support staff going “above and beyond” in their job performance. Each year, the University recognizes these individuals through the MSU Retirement and Service Recognition, Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards, and Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award.

MSU Retirement and Service Recognition

The MSU Retirement and Service Recognition recognizes support staff employees celebrating long-term service work anniversaries of 15+ years, as well as employees who have recently retired within the last fiscal year. This year we recognize 573 employees celebrating a long-term work anniversary and 188 employees retiring from the University. Thank you for your years of dedicated service to MSU! Click here to view a full list of those celebrating this year.

Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards

The Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Awards honors six University support staff members annually. These individuals are nominated by their colleagues as demonstrating the qualities of Jack Breslin, who served MSU as a student leader, honored athlete, top administrator and steadfast advocate, personifying the “Spartan Spirit.” Award honorees display overall excellence in job performance, supportive attitude and contributions to their unit and the University. This year’s awardees are:

Shannon Davis

Davis is an Administrative Associate in the Dean’s Office in the College of Social Science. She manages all aspects of the college’s Human Resources operations. Davis’ colleagues had this to say about her: 

“Shannon [is] one of [the College of Social Science]’s shining stars and the work product she provides is exceptional. Shannon is more than willing to provide support to anyone on our team and does so with a positive and collegial attitude.” 

“Those of us in the College of Social Science continue to be amazed at the consistent, appropriate and accurate work-product that Shannon provides. Even though she has a tremendously busy life outside of MSU, she seems to be able to adequately compartmentalize, and while at work, gives more than 110% to the College of Social Science. She does us all proud, and we are truly fortunate to have her.”

Theresa (Terry) Edwards

Edwards is a Secretary III in the Department of Teacher Education in the College of Education. She provides direct support to the Department Chairperson, as well as support for departmental faculty, staff, students and visitors. Edwards’ colleagues had this to say about her: 

“Terry is an expert on academic triage and in performing her varied routine and ad hoc duties, she is skilled at not only managing her own priorities, but in managing the flood of issues she must field for others, whether the department chair or the myriad faculty and students that come to her for assistance or referral. We perform very well, in large part, due to Terry’s excellence.” 

“We truly believe Terry deserves this honor. In particular, at this challenging moment in MSU’s history, we believe it’s important to recognize community members who go out of their way to build relationships, make others feel safe and valued, and create workspaces that are humanizing as well as productive.” 

Todd Wilson

Wilson is a Planner/Inspector/Analyst II in Planning, Design and Construction for Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. He manages capital construction projects for MSU and serves as the University’s liaison. Wilson’s colleagues had this to say about him: 

“One of Todd’s real joys about working at MSU is his ability to construct learning environments that forward the mission of MSU and offer spectacular facilities for faculty and students.” 

“Spartans Will (or…Spartans Wil-son in this case)!”

Robert (Bob) Patterson

Patterson is the Chief Financial Officer for Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS). He is responsible for the financial budgeting, financial management and overall viability of the financial success of all departments which make up RHS. Patterson’s colleagues had this to say about him: 

“Bob is a tireless advocate for students. For their overall experience and for the stewarding of resources that impact that experience.”

“I have never seen anyone so great at relating to people of all walks of life as Bob does. Bob tries to find common ground with everyone he meets.”

Maggie Chen-Hernandez

Chen-Hernandez is Student Services Coordinator in the Office of Cultural and Academic Transition. She is responsible for assessing and developing curriculum for the Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience and Intercultural Aide Program, developing diversity, equity and inclusion training, and collaborating with academic affairs, faculty and students to implement student retention initiatives, among others. Chen-Hernandez’s colleagues had this to say about her: 

“In her close to 30 years of service, Maggie Chen-Hernandez has always and continues to go above and beyond what is expected of her because she deeply cares about the students she serves and wants them to feel a sense of belonging, and wants them to be successful both academically and socially.”

“Ms. Chen-Hernandez has made a great impact during her distinguished career at Michigan State University. The campus is a more inviting and inclusive community for students and staff due to her presence and service.”

Cindy Baswell

Baswell is the Bakery Manager for MSU Bakers. She is responsible for all aspects and operations of the unit. Baswell and her staff are responsible for almost all the fresh baked goods served on campus. Her colleagues had this to say about her: 

“Cindy truly cares about everything she does and puts the best interests of our students, guests and University as a whole in the forefront of her work.”

“Through her work at the bakery, Cindy has touched the lives of countless individuals; those with whom she works, student customers and other customers, and so many people throughout the community. Cindy leads her team to excellence in all they do, creating a culture of creativity, compassion, generosity, and strong ethics.”

Ruth Jameyson “Above and Beyond” Award

This annual award recognizes a support staff member who most closely exemplifies the contributions, personal characteristics, and commitment to MSU demonstrated by Ms. Ruth Jameyson, going “above and beyond” what is reasonably expected in supporting the mission of MSU. In recognition of Ms. Jameyson’s own pursuit of a graduate degree while working at MSU, the award recipient must be pursuing a graduate degree at MSU or elsewhere concurrent with their employment at MSU.

This year’s recipient is Michelle Gunn Van Deuren. She is a Research Assistant II in the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Gunn Van Deuren is pursuing a graduate degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Disease Ecology and Conservation Medicine from MSU. Her colleagues had this to say about her:

“She is a very intelligent young lady, who is extremely creative in getting each task of her job done efficiently. In order to maximize time efficiency, she took courses to learn complicated software for bookkeeping, accounting and visual arts and mastered them.”

“Ms. Van Deuren unequivocally is the hands down, standalone, single best embodiment of “Above and Beyond”. Truly, as I became aware of this award and was reading about Ms. Jameyson, I swore the authors were writing and describing Michelle herself. Professionalism, Michelle. Loyalty, Michelle. Kindness, Michelle! Strength, patience, ambassador, Michelle! Never daunted by workload, whether piles or mountains, and being uncannily stalwart, Michelle is a tremendous asset to my growing program.”

The University would like to congratulate all award winners once again for all of their outstanding work. MSU would be nowhere near where it is today without the help of our dedicated employees. During this time, we invite the colleagues of these award recipients to extend their congratulations and appreciation to these individuals so they may receive the recognition and thanks they so greatly deserve.

Thank You Landscape Services

They’re the front line battling all kinds of weather on MSU’s East Lansing campus – clearing off roads so students and employees can move around campus, salting sidewalks, setting up flood barriers and soon, getting MSU ready for a picture-perfect spring. They’re the team members that make up the Department of Landscape Services.

But have you ever wondered what it takes to battle the elements or to keep the campus looking its best? Landscape Services crews are made up of arborists, gardeners, mechanics, irrigation, and many more. And the department went to great lengths to engage its team in their own development to grow and build skills in each of these fields.

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Recently, MSU Human Resources had the chance to work with Human Resources staff at Infrastructure Planning and Facilities to really dive into the different job types at Landscape Services. This eventually led to what Landscape Services calls its Career Map Wall. This wall shows a breakdown of the different job types in Landscape Services and what an individual would need to acquire to build a career. Check out the following video to see the wall and hear more from Director of Campus

Why is this Career Map Wall and the concept behind it so valuable to Landscape Services? According to Lawver, “The vision behind the Career Map Wall was to provide our workforce with transparency and clarity around what knowledge, skills, and abilities were required to advance one’s career at Landscape Services. Most employees want to know how they fit into the big picture and what specifically they need to do to advance in their career. The Career Map Wall leverages the MSU mission and focuses inward on our workforce to support and build each other.”second quote landscape

Thanks to Landscape Services for all your engagement with your work to keep campus ready and looking great in every season!

Thank You MSU Libraries!

The MSU Libraries have something for everyone – staff, faculty and students! There are tons of resources that you may not know about, and they’re constantly adding new additions.

MSU Main Library

Traveling out of the country soon? The library offers passport photos and other passport services in Hollander MakeCentral, located on the second floor of the West Wing. This resource also includes 3D printing and an Espresso Book Machine that can create a full paperback book in 15 minutes!

Are you a history buff? The Special Collections Library is home to books made before 1800. There is also the MSU’s extensive comic book collection which is the largest in the world! There are house works from the personal library of former MSU President Theophilus Abbot. A new Reading Room and service area on the first floor were recently added where you can spend a lunch period checking out these special items.

The library also holds events, seminars and workshops on a range of different subjects including their Coffee Break Series, a Zotero Workshop and a scholar-led book discussion. There are also programs and books covering over 70 languages. Fun Fact: the 4th floor in the west wing is home to video game labs that can be reserved for research or recreational use.

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MSU Library Video Game Room

Looking for a book or other library material that MSU does not have? They can have it shipped from another library within their network and have it available for you to pick up. In addition, the library website has an entire list of faculty services including things like D2L Help, Distance Learning Services, and articles on how to place materials on reserve. Thank you MSU Libraries for all of your help and efforts to make countless resources available to everyone!

Thank You MSU Police!

After a long and successful semester, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the MSU Police Department for all that they do to keep our campus safe. The MSU Police work year-round to reduce crime, enforce laws, preserve peace, and provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff to thrive.

The mission of the MSU Police is to enhance the quality of life on campus by building relationships, strengthening stewardship, and working collaboratively with MSU’s diverse community. They deliver on all fronts, and we are very appreciative of all their hard work.

Know of someone who would make a great addition to this team? The department is currently hiring and more positions will be opening in 2018. Check the Careers website for updated postings and information periodically.

Thank you MSU Police for everything you do for the campus community!

MSU Police