Positive Action Award
Did someone you know make a positive change in how employees are treated in the workplace? Does your department have policies that are supportive of staff? If yes, we want to recognize these efforts!
Award purpose and criteria
The Classified Personnel Council instituted the Positive Action Award in 2006. The purpose of this award is to recognize any individuals, groups, units or departments that have made a positive contribution to State Classified employees at Colorado State University. Eligible recipients of the award include State Classified, Admin Professionals, Faculty, or community members who significantly impact State Classified for the better.
The award is meant to showcase meaningful efforts, new initiatives, or best practices that foster a supportive work environment, improved campus climate, and/or positive work experiences for State Classified employees. The award is given annually at the discretion of the council. Recipients receive a plaque recognizing their contribution. Additionally, their name is added to the CPC website, acknowledging the history of the award’s recipients.
In 350 words or more, please provide detailed examples responding to two or more of the following questions, describing the positive contribution of the nominee(s) to CSU State Classified employees.
- How did they specifically impact State Classified at CSU?
- What specific efforts did they initiate on behalf of State Classified employees?
- How did they make CSU a great place to work for State Classified?
- How did they foster a supportive work environment for State Classified employees?
- How did they improve the campus climate specifically for State Classified employees?
- How did they substantially change or transform the nature and/or culture of campus for State Classified?
Nominations were due February 10, 2023. Nominations are currently closed and will reopen in November 2023 through Feb. 9, 2024.
- Technician Advisory Council (a team of 13) – Veterinary Teaching Hospital
- The Technician Advisory Council (TAC) for the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) is a new group that was established in early 2022. The main purpose of TAC was to create a unified front within the hospital so that state classified employees have a recognized representation in large decisions made for the future of the VTH. Since this group was established there has been a significant improvement in the culture for the vast number of employees who aid in the function of daily operations and hope to continue to do so long term. The veterinary technician career path has well known difficulties with burn out and poor staffing due representation within the field. The council is the first time that there is an organized location for concerns, deliberation and advocacy for state classified veterinary technicians in one of the leading veterinary schools in the country. A few things that this group has already been able to accomplish in the short time since their induction include working with the administration and ELT on addressing pressing concerns for technical staff including but not limited to: working environment, pay increases, benefits, opening channels of communication, continuing education opportunities, helping to coordinate a technician specific appreciation week, bringing the needs of the technical staff to the attention of the administration (lactation room remodel, discussions of food options for all staff, issues with short staffing and retention of employees) etc. They have also been able to help open the lines of communication regarding new technician title protection legislation between CSU administration and the governing body of technicians the Colorado Association of Certified Technicians (CACVT). Overall they have provided a voice for every technician in the hospital, which allows a hard working group of people to not only feel heard but also appreciated.
- Aggie Village General Labor Team (a team of 10) – Housing & Dining Services
- This group demonstrated above and beyond dedication, serving Housing & Dining Services throughout the pandemic, even during a staff shortage when the team decreased by more than half. On top of regular duties such as responding to maintenance work orders, keeping all public spaces clean, regular apartment turnovers, and more, they were responsible for quickly turning over apartments that were set aside for quarantine use and provided extra quarantine services such as throwing away residents’ personal trash, refilling pandemic supplies, delivering packages, and completing disinfection of public spaces twice daily. The team took on a new responsibility of equipment repair for the entire Environmental Services team. When taking over this responsibility they had 40+ work orders in the queue and caught up within one month while still accomplishing their standard work. They pushed on through the additional duties and low staff numbers, completing the work accurately, in a timely manner, and continuing to stay as positive as possible, understanding how important the work they do is, not only to residents but to their colleagues in Housing & Dining Services as a whole. They follow the Principles of Community and are committed to meeting customer needs and serving CSU even through challenging times.
- Kelly Hixson – Housing & Dining Services
- Kelly Hixson is a Custodial II/Environmental Services Supervisor for Housing & Dining Services-Facilities. She serves on the Afternoon Hours Team (the team that takes calls in the middle of the night to address various facilities concerns that impact students, including vomit clean-up to larger-scale flood clean-up). She is always willing to lend a hand to help and is someone the team knows they can count on. Another State Classified staff member shared the following about Kelly regarding the positive impact she is making in the lives of other State Classified staff: “Kelly is a very hard-working supervisor. She brought together two different teams this summer and kept us all on track to finish a partner team’s area and do extra areas by the time school started in the fall. They included and integrated both teams to work together as a whole new team. Kelly had frequent meetings with us so we all knew where we were and where we had to go. Kelly played music and worked right beside us taking care of our tasks. She was good at picking up on people’s personalities and what interests that person had, then they would send us job opportunities that might be a good fit for that person. Kelly is always trying to get her employees to strive for something more. She respects everyone on their new team and gave us all a chance to do a variety of different tasks and new learning opportunities. Kelly encouraged us all, and kept our spirits high in the heat of summer! It was actually a nice summer working with new people and getting to know them and we all worked together to make work fun and light but still maintain our quota for the day. Kelly always follows the rules and expects everyone to do the same. She has more information in their head than anyone else I know! Just little tidbits of information about benefits, or insurance, or parking, or campus history, I’m sure I could keep going. Kelly is also involved in many extra committees always showing their concern and care for our students and staff alike.”
- Lory Student Center Custodial Team
- This group of State Classified employees at CSU quietly makes a difference EVERY DAY to students, Admin Professionals, and other State Classified Employees on daily basis, but their efforts and impact have been magnified since the pandemic began in March of 2020. Unlike many CSU employees, this group has worked in person, daily, though the various stages of the pandemic, working to keep the LSC clean and safe for our employees to work, for our students to study, and for our businesses to operate. The truth of the matter is that our success as a building (as businesses, student affairs offices, events, and public spaces) rests on their shoulders. They have taken on this work with a pride and work ethic that is admirable. In addition, many of our LSC Custodial Staff are reliable friendly faces to any regular in the building, students and AP/State Classified staff alike. They are always wiling to lend a hand, share a smile or friendly greeting, and bring light and positivity into the building. I hope that they know how much they are valued and appreciated.
- Housing and Dining Services – Residential Dining
- The Residential Dining Services team went above and beyond this past year to adapt to an entirely new way of operating to ensure the safety and well-being of its customers. Dining collaborated with HDS partners to ensure that when students were moved to quarantine housing, they were provided with an abundance of nutritious meals throughout their stay. Dining leadership and staff at all levels took the lead to ensure that operations would meet the diverse needs of the customer. A new mobile ordering system was implemented to allow students, faculty, and staff to reserve a pick-up time to grab their meals in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines and much time and thought also went into the purchasing of various eco-friendly to-go containers and bags to ensure the food would stay fresh while maintaining the department’s commitment to CSU’s sustainability efforts. In addition, the department formed a task force dedicated to the restructuring of our dining center menus with a focus on variety and nutrition while also meeting new budgetary standards. They stayed true to their vision and mission, which is to, “deliver an outstanding dining experience crafted by an engaged team dedicated to social and environmental responsibilities,” in turn creating a positive campus climate for us all.
- Robyn Fergus
- Robyn has been at CSU for less than a year, but in that time, she has worked with CPC to identify needs and support options for State Classified Employees. Coming into a new role is no easy task, but Robyn has always been enthusiastic about her work and works to come up with innovative approaches to solving problems. With Robyn’s direction, we have been able to roll out a new performance management training module, and with her guidance, we plan on focusing on the culture of performance management at CSU beyond the basic requirements. CPC looks forward to working with Robyn moving forward into the next year and beyond!
- Rams Against Hunger
- The goal of Rams Against Hunger at Colorado State University is to serve as emergency food relief for Colorado State University undergraduate students experiencing food insecurity – but their efforts such as the mobile food pantry have also provided significant relief for the greater CSU community including faculty and staff. Food insecurity broadly defined is “the state of being without reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” CPC is beyond grateful for the support and programs that Ram’s Against Hunger provides, and we hope to continue partnering with this program in the future by volunteering at the mobile food pantry pick-ups.
- Living Wage Committee
- A committee, with representatives from across the institution, including the employee councils, worked to determine a living wage for CSU employees. The committee agreed that the first step in this process was to increase salaries that are below $30,000 to $30,000. Which meant full and part-time state classified and administrative professional employees with annual salaries below $30,000 would receive an increase bringing their salary to $30,000. The implementation of the living wage initiative was approved by campus administration and was implemented on September 1, 2018. Approximately 375 state classified, and 25 administrative professional employees were impacted by this initiative.The committee also worked to identify appropriate increases for employees earning an amount just above the line of the new living wage, so that their pay also increases to reflect their current job level and years of service. This situation is referred to as wage compression. Employees affected by wage compression were also being notified of wage increases. Increases addressing compression were determined by the years of service, the level of an employee’s classification, and most current performance rating.
- Lauri Loyd and Jean West
- Jean and Lauri are the heart of the Administration area within Housing & Dining Services and have made tremendous contributions to the morale of all employees in the department in the following ways:
- Jean has served on the Communications and Morale committee that includes an employee recognition program and planning department events that recognize our employees.
- Lauri provides support for staff training and workshops to employees with an annual three-day conference-style training.
- They both provide support to the HDS Human Resources department which includes Payroll and Employment. Employees come in sometimes distraught or nervous about meetings and Jean and Lauri always make them feel supported and comfortable.
- They always have the best interest of all of the HDS staff at heart when decisions are being made that may affect staff. It may not seem like much, but HDS has almost 500 full-time State Classified and Admin Pro employees.
- Jean and Lauri are the heart of the Administration area within Housing & Dining Services and have made tremendous contributions to the morale of all employees in the department in the following ways:
- Marsha Benedetti
- Under the leadership and vision of Marsha Benedetti – the office of Talent Development made several key hires. Concurrently, developed the curriculum and delivery format for a Supervisor Development program and a path for supervisors to earn a Certificate in Supervision.Over the past two years, Marsha and the office of Talent Development have crafted, improved and delivered a series of Foundational, Core and Elective Classes – all part of the (now required!) Supervisor Development Program.While the program may still be young – the first group of Supervisor Development Program graduates is now actively utilizing and applying their new skills and knowledge across campus. It will not be long now before we (hopefully) begin to see an upswing of positive comments related to supervisors in our Campus Climate Survey. Who do we have to thank – Marsha Benedetti. Marsha has been a steady and committed champion of supervisor development. Her continuous and collaborative efforts are delivering results to the CSU community – making CSU a better place to work for state classified employees and all employees. I may have a few of the details wrong but, there is no one more deserving of recognition of a CPC Positive Action Award than Marsha Benedetti.
- Erika Borges and Kellie Rainwater
- Erica Borges has worked in the Office of the VPUO for ~7 years
- Kellie had worked in the VPUO for ~5 years
- While it may be a part of their position descriptions to provide support to numerous Council activities – the CPC is very happy to recognize these two individuals for their tireless assistance, endless patience, and gracious
- Outstanding Achievement Award management – schedule, pictures, framing, etc.; support and logistics for the Educational Assistance Awards; Milestone letters for SC employees; welcome letters for new SC employees, scheduling our meetings with Lynn; and assist with annual the CPC new member election process; and likely millions of other little details I will never know because they are handled so seamlessly
- Thank you thank you – for all you do – know that it matters and we are grateful
- Teri Suhr and Jackie Swaro – Human Resources Benefits Unit
- Teri and Jackie were recognized for providing resources to empower State Classified employees to make the best benefit decisions for themselves and their families. Without their dedication, few (if any) State-sponsored vendors would have attended the 2015 State Classified Benefits Fair since the State of Colorado decided to discontinue holding benefits fairs across the state.
- President’s Commission on Women & Gender Equity
- The Commission was recognized for leading the Ripple Effect Grant Proposal process and creating workshops to teach employees how to write a proposal. They were also nominated for their University-wide efforts to ensure equal access and opportunity for all employees and giving women a stronger voice.
- Lanai Greenhalgh – Ombuds and Employee Assistance Program
- Lanai was recognized for the assistance she provided to employees who lost their homes or were displaced from natural disasters. Her remarkable way of reaching out to offer support without being intrusive helped many employees deal with the emotional impact and the physical realities of their situation.
- Amy Parsons & Commitment to Campus program – University Operations
- Amy Parsons and the task force was recognized for all the work that has gone into Commitment to Campus. There are a variety of benefits offered to all employees of the University. These benefits make employees feel valued especially during an economic downturn and salary freezes.
- Melissa Shrader – Facilities Management
- Melissa was recognized for her dedication to the lactation room program, as part of the Commitment to Campus initiative. She researched and provided the use of viable locations with underutilized spaces. She measured, prepared diagrams, and estimated the costs for each location. Once that was all approved, Melissa created the work orders, ordered the furniture, and revisited the sites as needed to bring each room up to the conditions needed for new moms to use. Finally, Melissa took on the responsibility, without being asked or expected to do so, of being the “front door” of the program by volunteering her contact information online so that there is always someone available to help schedule a room, explain how to get access, and address any problems or issues that might arise.
- The Office of the Vice President for Research
- Since Fall 2009, the ODLA team significantly contributed to State Classified by promoting professional development, employee recognition, and staff events. The ODLA team, comprised of a state-classified or administrative professional representative from each of the six divisions plus the OVPR, was chaired by Margaret Saldana, Organizational Development and Learning Assessment coordinator.
- Tom Biedscheid – Student Financial Services
- Tom was recognized for his innovative ideas which promote positive experiences for both employees in Student Financial Services and the students they serve. Tom coordinated “Green Team” in SFS and guided the department in reducing their paper usage. Tom also organizes staff events which promote working together and also allowed for exploring the competitive side of the SFS staff. Tom’s co-workers stated his leadership style encourages them to set the bar very high for goals within the department and at a University level.
- Tag Team Towers – Operations Management, Housing and Dining Services
- The Tag Team Towers (a group of State Classified and Administrative Professional employees who provide custodial and maintenance services as well as administrative and residential support for Durward and Westfall halls, known as “The Towers” on campus) was recognized for the way the staff members on the team have come together and modeled positive communication and team-building for other teams in the department.
- Facilities Process Improvement Committee
- This Committee was recognized for its work in building a foundation of cooperation by encouraging open communication and respect. Positions on the Committee are open to front line employees who work together in leadership roles to improve the morale of employees. The Committee has used employee surveys to engage others and direct their energies in avenues of value to the employees.
- Bill Cole – Operations Management, Housing & Dining Services
- Bill encouraged and supported employee efforts to launch several innovative programs. His leadership models integrity, credibility, and follow-through and was the driving force for the positive changes in the Division.
- College of Veterinary Medicine & Bio-Medical Sciences
- For efforts in surveying employee needs and acting on results such as piloting feedback mechanisms for supervisors and increasing employee recognition efforts.