Penn's Oscars salute amazing staff

Hollywood has the Oscars. Broadway has the Tonys. And Penn has the Models of Excellence.

The audience for this year’s second celebration of Penn’s best staff nearly filled the orchestra seats of Zellerbach Theatre. Provost Robert Barchi and Executive Vice President John Fry hosted the 45-minute awards ceremony. (“I get to read the award citations, and he gets to wear the fashion-plate clothes,” Barchi quipped.)

Valerie Hayes, executive director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs and a member of the committee that judged the nominations, said of the honorees, “These people give beyond their work because of who they are … and in such a way that they are independent, doing it on their own, taking risks; they are leaders within the office and for other offices to follow.”

Unlike the Oscars, though, the Models of Excellence — 21 in all this year — don’t make long acceptance speeches. So we’re using this space to tell you more about their award-winning performance. (One of them, Bill Berner, talked about his work in our April 5 issue.)

Katie Claypoole contributed to this story.


The Career Services team: (back row) Christiana Fitzpatrick, Julie Schutzman, Barbara Hewitt, Leslie Trimble, Mary Morris Heiberger, Sharon Fleshman and Michelle Taylor; (middle row) Julie Miller Vick, Chandlee Bryan, Patricia Rose, Rosette Pyne and Genny Dunne; (front row) Peggy Curchack. Not pictured: Andy Coopersmith.


Career e-ties that bind

The Office of Career Services has discovered how technology can bring people closer together.

Through e-mail, the office staff can now help students with their career problems no matter where the students are. And the office’s distributed e-mail lists contain useful career tips that the students appreciate.

“A lot of our counseling [via e-mail] is one-way,” said Graduate Counselor Julie Vick. “The people who receive information from us never speak to us. But when we do meet face-to-face for the first time, they feel as if they know us already.”

The office’s embrace of e-mail has also let them distribute information better, faster and cheaper. “We’ve saved on ad expenses, poster expenses and copying expenses, and we’re getting the message out to more people more effectively by putting it right on their desktops,” said Career Services Director Patricia Rose.


Sergeant Margaret O’Malley and Corporal Joseph Fischer. Not pictured: Officer Stacey Livingston

Photo by Candace diCarlo

They protect and serve

If you noticed the absence of the traditional “fall crime wave” stories in The Daily Pennsylvanian this year, thank Joseph Fischer, Stacey Livingston and Margaret O’Malley of the Penn Police, along with their fellow officers.

These three have as one of their main duties keeping crime from happening in the first place. Fischer conducts crime-prevention seminars for faculty, staff, students and the community, and alerts building administrators to patterns of suspicious activity. O’Malley and Livingston teach women practical self-defense in the department’s Rape Aggression Defense program. And Fischer and Livingston work with the community to deal with homelessness and the impact of students on the neighborhood.

Their efforts have paid off. “Thefts are down in campus buildings,” Fischer said. “We’ve made people more aware of their surroundings.

“If we continue to address crime proactively as we do now, this will remain a very safe neighborhood.”


Lorraine Thomas with some of her

Photo by Candace diCarlo

Good neighbor

At a conference in Washington, a speaker called Lorraine Thomas the mayor of Southwest Philadelphia. Given the services her program provides for the Kingsessing community, the title fits. As outreach coordinator for the School of Nursing’s Health Annex, Thomas’ job is to make sure the community knows about everything the Health Annex has to offer and to serve as a bridge between Penn and the neighborhood she calls home.

That latter task is important, she says. “People in West and Southwest Philly are kind of leery of the University because they think people come in and do research, and then when the project is over, they leave the community high and dry. Our role is to let the community know that we’re here to stay.”


Nam Narain and Maggie Krall

Photo by Tommy Leonardi

Deficit erasers

When Nam Narain came on board the School of Medicine’s Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Program two years ago, the program was running a million-dollar deficit and could only offer partial scholarship support to some of its students.

Thanks to her efforts and those of Associate Director Maggie Krall, the deficit has been wiped out and every student receives full funding.

“It was a matter of more efficiently managing the grant that funds the program,” Krall said.

The key to managing the grant more efficiently, Narain said, is communication. “How can you do your job well if you only see this little piece [of the entire program]?” said Narain, the associate director for finance and data management. “If people can see the larger picture, they can do their own piece better.”


Nancy McCue

Photo by Tommy Leonardi

Smooth events operator

To pull off hosting a large convention smoothly, a lot of behind-the-scenes details have to be taken care of. That’s where Nancy McCue comes in.

Take last summer’s Republican National Convention, for instance. As Campus Services project manager in Business Services, McCue’s backstage work allowed Penn to host more than 20 convention-related events for more than 10,000 people, the largest conference the campus has ever hosted. And the “Destination Penn” marketing campaign she helped develop is aimed at attracting more conference business — and more visitors — to the campus, especially during the summer months when dorm space as well as hotel rooms are available.

“My job is to see the big picture, figure out what the pieces are and how to move things behind the scenes in ways people may not be aware of,” said McCue.


Ira Winston

Photo by Daniel R. Burke

Lifetime achievement award

“When you’ve been here as long as I have, you see people leaving, and they have parties where they celebrate those people’s achievements at Penn,” said 25-year University veteran Ira Winston (EE’80,GEng’83).

“Well, this is a celebration of my achievements at Penn, even though I’m not leaving.”

And there are plenty of achievements to celebrate. Winston is the administrative embodiment of Penn’s interdisciplinary spirit, as he heads up the information technology operations for three schools — Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Applied Science and Fine Arts.

Because of Winston’s leadership, the schools have been able to pool computing resources and apply technology developed in one school across multiple schools. And his access to top administrators in all three schools has helped open up communication among the schools in other areas as well.

Which is all for the good, he said. “Conflict often arises because of lack of information rather than from actual differences,” he said.

Honorable mentions were also awarded to Jean-Marie Kneeley, vice dean for external affairs in the School of Arts and Sciences, and to the teams that developed the Campus Express Web site and the BEN Reports financial-reporting tool. For more about the honorable mentions, visit on the Web.

Originally published on April 19, 2001