University honors fall Employees of the Month

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas recently has announced the August, September and October 2022 Employees of the Month. These staff members have made outstanding contributions to the Lawrence campus community.

Winners of the Employee of the Month awards receive the following:

  • A surprise visit from the provost or her designee
  • A certificate of award
  • A biography featured through KU Today
  • A $750 gross monetary award.

Nominate an employee for this award by completing and submitting the online or paper Employee of the Month nomination form and returning it to HRM by email or fax to 785-864-5790. More information is available here.

August 2022

Name: Lisa Mann

Title: Digital media coordinator, Department of Special Education

Lisa Mann
Lisa Mann

Lisa Mann has worked for KU since May 2014 and has become known amongst her colleagues as a goal-oriented, reliable pillar in the department. She has a variety of responsibilities aside from her main position, including but not limited to working as the administrator for the High Incidence and ASD Practicum Gateways, monitoring all courses for APA and copyright support, and teaching students in groups as well as individually about APA formatting. Moreover, Mann serves on several committees.

Mann is an invaluable member of the team with a concrete understanding of the issues and current trends in special education, developing and implementing online educational programming, meeting the needs of learners with disabilities, research practices and assessment. A highly motivated, lifelong learner herself, Mann spends countless hours keeping herself up to date with the endlessly changing landscape of technology and the Canvas platform. She consistently goes above and beyond to provide excellent content and course development, program management, quality control and student outreach. She is dedicated to giving students the best possible learning experience, and her broad understanding of the subject material, as well as her patience when working with others, has made her a go-to person. With her fundamental focus on the user experience, she pushes her colleagues to think of more innovative ways to design their courses to be student-centered, and with her excellent collaborative and communication skills she has raised the quality of work for not only herself, but the entire department. A colleague has said this about her: “She is not about getting recognized for what she does. Her goal is to connect people and help us all be better ... and we ended up the best online program in the U.S.! I have no doubt that her efforts have been and remain an essential component of our success.”

Mann has an amazingly positive attitude and can be counted on to get things done with efficiency. Whenever she sees a need in the department, she is always among the first to step in and fill the empty role. She not only volunteered to take over management of the "Practicum Gateway" course space in Canvas, but she streamlined the processes, making it easier for students from across the country to understand and complete their requirements. She also took over the administrative duties involved, allowing practicum directors to focus on their teaching. Mann has helped with the revision of every major change in the ASD program since it started and even volunteers after hours, choosing to give her personal time to interact with students.

Name: Marianne Reed

Title: Digital repository and publishing manager, KU Libraries

Marianne Reed
Marianne Reed

Marianne Reed has worked for KU since August 1987, and during her time with the university she has become known as an enthusiastic helper who gives only her absolute best in everything she does. She has many responsibilities in her role, including but not limited to overseeing digital publishing and supervising the publishing specialist and several student workers for KU Libraries. She also advises staff from KU Libraries as well as KU faculty and administration on identifying and depositing appropriate content into the KU ScholarWorks institutional repository.

The work of KU Libraries and the digital initiatives unit in particular involves a great deal of change, but Reed never fails to rise to the challenge. She always seeks ways to improve the processes and services within the department, and she approaches obstacles with persistence and creativity. She actively engages in unit discussions and often asks pointed questions that help clarify new needs and directions. Over the years her role has shifted several times, but she has always remained a steady, professional presence through every transition. A colleague has this to say about her: “I joined KU in November 2015, and I feel honored to work with her. I have observed her way of well-organized working, immense experience, expertise in the library related fields as well as in KU-related information, and her incredible attitude towards helping others, always with a kind smile on her face, is very inspiring. Marianne is the sunshine of KU, Lawrence and beyond.”

Reed has made it her personal mission to make sure every person feels welcomed and comfortable at KU and frequently goes out of her way to ensure the success of everyone she works with and supervises. She works tirelessly to make sure that faculty, journal editors, colleagues and staff have all the training, information and support they need to be their best, even going as far as creating detailed LibGuides for everyone and assisting with dissertations. She leads with kindness and truly embodies what it means to be a supporter of KU DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging). She actively serves on multiple awards committees within KU Libraries as well as at the university level because she feels strongly about recognizing the good work of those around her and looks for ways to amplify and celebrate the achievements of others. One thing that stands out to her supervisor and colleagues, however, is her outstanding work on the KU United Way campaigns, a cause that is very dear to her heart. She has always been a positive, high-energy force to ensure the success of the campaigns within KU Libraries, working round the clock to make sure the penny wars, bake sales and prize raffles to raise the money needed for the United Way of Douglas County all go off without a hitch. She even went as far as to offer to shave her head in the middle of winter if a certain number of payroll deductions was reached. Her clear dedication to the campaign and incredible work caught the notice of the chancellor, who invited her to chair the University United Way campaign for the 2021-2022 academic year.

September 2022

Name: Whitney Jones

Title: Lead Architect and project manager for the KU/KU Alumni Association assigned to the Jayhawk Welcome Center

Whitney Jones
Whitney Jones

Whitney Jones has worked for the University of Kansas since August 2013 and has distinguished herself amongst her colleagues during that time as an exceptional leader in her field. Jones is responsible for the entire budget and strategic direction of the Jayhawk Welcome Center for KU and functions as the representative for the university’s stake to general contractors, architects and other stakeholders on the project.

Jones goes the extra mile in everything she does, never allowing her quality of work to slip despite juggling several challenging projects at once. Her problem-solving skills are incredible, and her solutions always surpass every expectation while showing just how much she cares about not only ensuring the client’s best interests, but also the university’s and that of her coworkers. Every decision she makes is calculated in a way to provide her clients with an outstanding product that meets and often exceeds the needs of KU. With the Jayhawk Welcome Center in particular, Jones took on extra work and sourced certain pieces out of the GC’s budget to other KU contractors that were able to find significant cost savings. Due to this, she wound up saving the client over $1 million while still delivering the best product possible. She had no incentive to add so much extra work to her plate beyond seeing to the success of the project, which shows just how committed Jones is to excellence. A colleague has this to say about her: “Whitney is extremely dedicated to her job. She is more on top of every detail on her projects than anyone I have worked with, including me. She is very dedicated to making sure that she is looking for the client’s and university’s best interest at all times and in everything she does at work.”

Jones is detail-oriented, highly organized, enthusiastic and easy to talk to, which are all extremely important traits for both a project manager and a leader to have. She is not only very technically competent, but she also has great people skills and approaches even the most difficult to work with contractors, clients and designers with the highest level of professionalism and patience. Even in the toughest situations, she refuses to give in and looks at her projects from new angles until she finds a solution that has the best possible outcome for everyone. Another colleague has this to say about her: “Whitney is the best of the best. She is focused and deliberate. Her skills as a young design professional constantly amaze me. She has the ability to take very difficult tasks and break them down into manageable pieces. Her architectural skills are well beyond her years.”

Name: Gary Mohr

Title: Project manager, Facilities Planning & Development

Gary Mohr
Gary Mohr

Gary Mohr has worked for the University of Kansas since July 2012 and during this time has proven himself to be one who gets things done. His colleagues agree that if there is a job to do, Mohr will exceed all expectations and work as many hours as it takes to deliver the highest quality work possible. As a project manager, Mohr oversees both in-house design and consultant projects from planning to construction. He is competent in a variety of capacities, working on projects involving mechanical, electrical and civil engineering with such a high degree of professionalism and knowledge that although his training is in mechanical engineering, clients have assumed he is a civil engineer.

Mohr is known for his amazing ability to tackle the difficult projects with efficiency and a level head. Where others would get frustrated, Mohr calmly leads his team to a solution, like he has done repeatedly with the new Jayhawk Welcome Center. The number of hours required to finish this project has far exceeded the ones allocated, and not only has Mohr given his all to this project and found new ways to forge ahead through the setbacks, he has also continued to balance his other projects without compromising the quality of work he provides for each. Because he has consistently gone above and beyond for this project, FPD has been able to function with the staff it currently has. A colleague has said this about his work for the Jayhawk Welcome Center: “Gary has been a tremendous asset to the Jayhawk Welcome Center project and the university. His knowledge from being in the field has brought great attention to detail when it comes to city codes and requirements that might have been missed or unknown. He has also come up with ways to save time and money in areas by coming up with solutions to complete certain projects to reduce additional cost.”

Mohr is highly dependable, and colleagues, clients and contractors all know that he will give and expect nothing but the absolute best work. While his expectations are high, so is his support for his fellow engineers. Mohr is often one of the first to professional development and celebrate the achievements of his colleagues behind the scenes. He is the ultimate team player and doesn’t care who gets the credit as long as the work is done right. Another colleague has this to say about him: “Gary is constantly putting in the hours to meet project and construction timelines. While he is a mechanical engineer by training, he has now become one of the most knowledgeable civil and site PMs we have. I often look to him for advice or perspective on projects on areas that he has grown to master. He is willing to help and support others by providing insight and guidance, while letting them take it from there.”

October 2022

Name: Brad Richard

Title: Welder senior, Facilities Maintenance Services

Brad Richard has worked for the University of Kansas since November 2006 and during this time has become an irreplaceable figure in not just his department, but to many people and places around campus due to his reliability and his unwavering desire to help. His primary job responsibilities are to repair various broken items and handrails around campus, but because he is always first to volunteer his assistance, he is also heavily involved with the maintenance and upkeep of the steam shop, and for the boat docks and boathouse for KU Athletics as well.

Richard consistently does more than what’s in his job description, never turning down an opportunity to help someone, regardless of the trade area or nature of the task. He has a wide variety of knowledge and experience, and he never hesitates to put these skills to good use. He always comes in early, stays late, and completes everything right on schedule or ahead of expectation. Last winter when Watkins Health Center was without steam because of a steam regulator going bad, Richard volunteered to stay late and assist with the repairs so that everyone could get home earlier. In the past he has also offered to come in after a weeknight basketball game to help get steam restored to Allen Fieldhouse before the next day when the temperatures were projected to drop. A colleague has said this about Richard: “If and/or when Brad decides to move, it will be a loss and would be felt for a very long time. He is uniquely talented and indispensable to our daily operation and the university as a whole.”

Everything Richard does, he does with his co-workers and the university in mind. When he sees a need that is within his power to meet, Richard rises to the occasion without question or complaint no matter how difficult the task. His co-workers all agree that he is one of the hardest-working employees in FS, and he has the attendance record to prove it. He has become known as a go-to in FS, and people will frequently seek him out specifically when they have a problem because they know he is always there, highly knowledgeable and willing to lend a hand. One time when the HVAC workers couldn’t get a shaft out of an Air Handling unit, they enlisted Richard’s aid. Not only did he cut the bearing off the shaft so that it could be removed, which is a very involved task, he also fixed the grease lines that had been broken for years while he was there. None of this was his responsibility, but he is just that eager to ensure the safety and success of his fellow employees. Another co-worker has stated this about him: “Brad is a caring person who wants to help everyone do their best. He wants to see everyone excel and succeed.”

Name: Ronald Wallace

Title: Equipment mechanic in Facilities Maintenance Services

Ronald Wallace
Ronald Wallace

Ronald Wallace has worked for the University of Kansas since February 2011, and during this time he has proven himself to be not only an extremely capable mechanic, but also the most supportive co-worker anyone could ask for. His job responsibilities include helping in the garage with everyday operations, servicing vehicles, wrecker calls, writing WOs and keeping track of on-hand inventory.

Wallace always goes above and beyond when working in the garage to make sure everything runs smoothly. He takes on every task with a smile, no matter how difficult the job or how busy the day is, and he does all that he can to ensure the job gets done right the first time. He has a strong desire to make sure all the vehicles on campus are operating at peak performance so that everyone can succeed, and he will work to get the job done no matter how long it takes, all while delivering the highest quality service. Wallace is one of only two regular staff members in the garage and, during his co-worker’s prolonged absence, he not only picked up all the work to make sure the garage never missed a beat, but he also ensured the work quality never slipped. Getting everything done at the garage in a timely manner with two people is a challenge, let alone when there is only one onsite.

Wallace is very knowledgeable in his field, but when he doesn’t know something, he takes it upon himself to do extensive research until he can find the problem and resolve it. For instance, he learned how to order and receive parts through Maximo and RITCI so that he can keep track of inventory and anticipate the garage’s needs while his co-worker was out. He has excellent communication skills, always keeping both his customers and his co-workers up to date on his current job and providing top-notch customer service with his focused and helpful attitude. Other departments know that they can depend on him and will seek him out because they know he will do anything he can to assist, even if it isn’t strictly within his job description. His colleague has this to say about him: “I could go on and on about how Ron is a deserving person to get Employee of the Month, but I would be here all day!”