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.

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