2017 University Awards for Excellence – Provost’s Unit

metal wolf statue

The Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost recognized exceptional staff members at the 2017 Provost’s Unit Awards for Excellence on April 24.

The University Awards for Excellence represent the highest honor NC State bestows on non-faculty members. Each nominee demonstrated outstanding service in one of the following areas: customer service, efficiency and innovation, human relations, outstanding state government service, public service, heroism, and the spirit of North Carolina.

This year’s recipients of the Provost’s Unit Awards for Excellence are:

  • Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation
Brent Brafford and Senior Vice Provost Duane Larick

Brent is a vital part of the NCSU Libraries external relations team. From designing art boxes for the Libraries’ home page to producing the Libraries’ instructional and promotional videos, to producing content for the Hunt Libraries’ video walls, Brent’s combination of creativity and technical skills are essential to promoting the Libraries’ events and workshops and their award-winning brand. In an organization known for incubating emerging technologies, Brent is a leader in identifying and experimenting with new equipment and software as it applies to Libraries’ messaging. Brent demonstrates a model work ethic and strong sense of team while innovatively employing technologies to which few have access. Not only is Brent’s innovation crucial to the Libraries’ success, his efficiency and impact is remarkable. Last year alone, he designed assets for more than 100 events and workshops, and has streamlined workflows for press releases, news items, vacancy and hiring announcements, and video production.

  • Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation
Michael Cuales and Senior Vice Provost Duane Larick

Mike is a key driver of innovative thinking and doing on NC State’s campus, resulting in amazing things happening in teaching and learning. He is a connector of ideas and people that inspires those who work with him both in the university and beyond. Where some might see an obstacle, Mike sees a path for innovation; where some see chaos, Mike considers possibilities, and when some are fearful of failure, Mike is fearless. He is the kind of person every organization pursuing excellence needs — that person that thinks outside of the proverbial box; the one who sees an opportunity where others may not. Mike’s enthusiasm for innovating instruction has led to the integration of 360 video/virtual reality (VR) into NC State courses, building a bridge between gaming principles and educational endeavors. Mike’s passion for innovation extends beyond the university’s borders, and via his external collaborations with AT&T and local museums, a new generation of diverse learners will have access to and be inspired by VR learning environments.

  • Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation
Laura Schenkman and Senior Vice Provost Duane Larick

In 2011, Laura joined the Biotechnology Program (BIT), which educates more than 400 students in molecular biology fundamentals and lab techniques. Her role within BIT is unique and essential. She is a Ph.D. yeast geneticist, an artist and a true team player. In order for the BIT program to work, each team member must wear many hats. However, Laura takes this to another level — she is truly their “jack of all trades.” The unusual nature of BIT makes them a ‘square peg in a round hole’ at times when it comes to campus administration. Laura uses her creativity and science background to provide fundamental administrative and academic support for BIT. Administratively she manages the BIT budget, search committees, website creation, and acts as liaison with students, faculty and staff. Beyond administration, Laura also provides unique academic support to the BIT program. BIT offers an undergraduate minor, a graduate minor and graduate certificate to NC State students. Laura supports all three programs managing enrollment, course scheduling and support for hundreds of students. All of these tasks and so many more define the realms of responsibility that Laura undertakes with professionalism, efficiency and innovation.

  • Award Category: Human Relations
Darren White and Senior Vice Provost Duane Larick

After President Trump’s recent travel ban, Darren, webmaster for the Graduate School took a camera to Hunt Library, along with a transcript of Chancellor Woodson’s statement to talk with students. The result was a short video of students reading the Chancellor’s words of inclusion. The video has been added to the University’s Diversity web page. On Facebook, the post went viral with more than 134,000 hits, and the video was viewed more than 46,000 times. This is just one example of how Darren strives to create a welcoming and inclusive environment on the Graduate School’s webpage and social media. He frequently engages with students to create videos about their work, in order to show current and prospective students the diversity of opportunity and culture here at NC State.

These winners will represent the Provost’s Office units at NC State’s University Awards for Excellence on June 7. They each received eight hours of paid leave, an engraved plaque and check for $250.

Duane Larick, senior vice provost for academic strategy and resource management, and the Provost’s Office Chief of Staff, along with Katharine Stewart, vice provost for faculty affairs, presented certificates to each of the following nominees:

  • Stacy Bissette, senior undergraduate international student and scholar advisor, Office of International Services
  • Brent Brafford, technology support analyst, the NCSU Libraries
  • Michael Cuales, assistant director, creative and multimedia, DELTA
  • Kevin Feeney, study abroad program coordinator, Office of International Affairs, Study Abroad
  • Aimee Jones, functional lead, Office of Professional Development
  • Daxland Prather, technology support specialist, Technology Training Solutions
  • Laura Schenkman, program specialist, Biotechnology Program
  • Michael Shurer, SEVIS manager, Office of International Services
  • Laina Stensvold, program assistant, Office of Professional Development
  • Denise Wesselow, administrative support assistant, The Graduate School
  • Darren White, webmaster, The Graduate School

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