2023 Excellence Award Winners

Announcing the 2023 Excellence Award Winners!

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Citizenship

International Advancement (Team)
Advancement
This past September, the International Advancement (IA) team completed the fundraising of a $120 million endowment to help Brown become need-blind for international students. Need-blind admission does not take into account an applicant's financial and socioeconomic status when deciding whether to admit them. For the past 15 years, Brown has been need-blind for domestic students, and, in October 2021, President Paxson announced her intention for Brown to become need-blind for international students if Advancement could raise the significant funding necessary.

Working with international alumni and parents, the IA team developed a strategy and executed a plan that raised the $120 million endowment a year ahead of schedule. The team engaged donors from around the world, cultivating and stewarding relationships with existing and new supporters, and organizing events. This fundraising initiative was a true team effort, with frontline fundraisers and support staff from the IA team working together to meet the goal, in collaboration with colleagues in Advancement and throughout the University. As a direct result, Brown will be able to accept its first need-blind international student cohort in 2025, for the Class of 2029, and will be one of only seven universities in the U.S. to be need-blind for international students. This is a truly transformative achievement, which will cement Brown’s role as a global leader in higher education.

Stephanie Robert
Finance and Administration | Office of General Counsel
The Office of General Counsel (OGC) has had a busy seven months, between increased unionization activities, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Harvard/University of North Carolina admissions cases and multiple projects and presentations to campus on a variety of legal issues. Senior Paralegal Stephanie Robert took the lead in creating presentations to senior leaders and more than 250 others across campus that explained and detailed the Supreme Court’s decision. OGC used these presentations to educate relevant campus administrators on the new legal requirements relating to student body admissions and develop compliant programs and activities.

Initially invited to provide administrative support at negotiating sessions with the Teaching Assistant Labor Organization (TALO), Stephanie quickly became an indispensable participant and was asked to become an official member of the negotiating committee. The work was extremely important, as it would set a precedent for undergraduate student employment in general and unionization in particular. Stephanie’s hard work, creativity, problem-solving skills, collaborative nature and ability to connect with the many students, union members, faculty, staff members and administrators during the negotiations were simply remarkable. Stephanie’s work was at the highest level; she consistently went above and beyond the call of duty.

Edward Goll
Dean of the Faculty
As administrative coordinator for the Dean of Faculty, Ed Goll has been described as a mind reader — before you know you need to ask him, he's submitted the form or contacted the right person to do whatever it is you need to be done. He's always ready to help fix things and support others at a moment's notice.

In addition to serving as computer coordinator, Ed has stepped in to fill vacant roles in various academic departments, including covering the entry of financial transactions, assisting with administrative duties and troubleshooting any issues. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ed digitized files and set up his colleagues with virtual access. Another time, he volunteered to assist a team member who had been put in charge of running the annual orientation for newly arrived faculty for the first time, helping to ensure the program’s success.

Ed also provides essential administrative support for the Howard Foundation — sharing his technical expertise to significantly enhance the application experience and advertising fellowships in ways that promote broader and more diverse applicant pools. His efforts have been transformational for the visibility and impact of this program, which provides much-needed opportunities for humanities scholars and creative artists to pursue their work.

Efficiency 

Brown Arts Institute Production Department (Team)
Brown Arts Institute
During the lead-up to The Lindemann's dedication weekend in October, the entirety of the Brown Arts Institute (BAI) staff worked well above capacity to ensure an excellent opening. Specifically, the Production Department, led by Marc Warren, did all they could to get a new, technologically complex building up and running. As the soft opening in April 2023 approached, Marc and his team were tasked with overseeing the commissioning and tuning of the building, ensuring that its sophisticated systems were working. They worked tirelessly with visiting artists in a building that was not quite ready for them and with faculty who would start teaching in a new space that was often times still under construction, all while planning not only for a high-profile opening weekend but also for the high-profile opening event (including an overnight changeover of the space). This small but mighty team did all of this with professionalism, good cheer and while being understaffed.

An excellent example of the professionalism and efficiency of this team: Following the dedication dinner, the team needed to change the configuration of the Main Hall from a banquet setup to an orchestra setup. An unforeseen water event caused a fire alarm, a flood and a two-hour delay, and yet the team was able to rally, work with Facilities Management to mitigate damage, continue to transform the Main Hall, and be ready for a 7:30 p.m. performance. In short, this team worked miracles.

Operations Center (Team)
Office of Information Technology
Exemplifying efficiency, Jennifer Germano and Victor Smith teamed up to spearhead the modernization of the Office of Information Technology (OIT) incident management process. Jen and Victor developed an incident playbook, ensuring that all of OIT knows what to expect. Overall, their work has resulted in a higher quality of service, cost savings and happier teams.

The Operations Center team manages incidents for OIT seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and many incidents are after hours and on weekends. When there was a network outage at the football stadium during a big game, the Operations Center rallied the right teams to address the underlying issue and return network connectivity to the broadcast booth and the game. Jen and Victor’s efficiency was also recently displayed during Advancement Giving Day, when the Operations Center responded to an issue that was preventing donors from making their gifts. Operations Center staff worked closely with the Advancement team, swarmed the incident and rapidly addressed the problem, enabling Advancement to surpass fundraising goals for a record-breaking event.   

Jen and Victor’s efficiency is enhanced by their excellent communication style, which is essential to their success. Day or night, they are always professional, welcoming and focused on the task. They display remarkable understanding and consideration in their communication, remaining a source of calm amidst the storm.

Innovation

Brown University Digital Publications (Team)
University Library
The Brown University Digital Publications (BUDP) team has created an innovative and transformative academic publishing model that has had local, national and global impact on the field of scholarly communication and publishing. Through the leadership of Director Allison Levy, BUDP has changed the way readers and writers engage with scholarly work. The success of BUDP has resulted in the team being awarded three national grants that have and will continue to allow Brown to share this work broadly. 

In 2020, the BUDP team republished Brown’s Slavery and Justice Report on a unique digital platform for the First Readings Program that allows for reader interaction. The First Reading was so successful that it has been adopted as the First Readings book three additional times, which means the entire undergraduate student body has read the report. The success of the digital edition led to the creation of a second edition with a foreword by President Paxson that chronicles the impact of Brown’s groundbreaking work in recognizing our past history. 

For Brown authors, the BUDP offers a space for them to explore the creation of new forms of scholarly expression and argument. Currently, the BUDP has released three born-digital, peer reviewed monographs by faculty at Brown, and there are an additional thirteen faculty works in various stages of production.

Health Services (Team)
Campus Life
In January, Daisy Ferreira and Tanya Sullivan completed rigorous training to earn 5 Needle Protocol (5NP) ear acupuncture certification provided by the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, a program that is heavily supported by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The 5NP protocol uses acupuncture needles or “ear seeds” to help address physical and emotional tension related to stress, pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. It supports harm reduction, promotes healing and fosters resilience.

Tanya and Daisy designed and implemented a program to offer group and individual 5 NP sessions to Brown students throughout the 2023 spring and fall semesters, at no cost to students. They create a calm, soothing and restorative environment for their sessions, with comfortable seating, music and breathing exercises. The group sessions fill quickly, and Daisy and Tanya also offer real-time 5NP support to students in crisis. Since the program’s launch, more than 400 students and 50 staff have been treated in group or private sessions. The program has become very popular, and they continue to offer more sessions to meet the demand.

Daisy and Tanya have become 5NP trainers and are training additional Health and Wellness staff in 5NP ear acupuncture this year. They have also presented off campus to help peer institutions develop similar programs.

Health and Wellness (Team)
Campus Life
A cross-departmental team in Health and Wellness, made up of medical, public health and pharmacy professionals, responded proactively and innovatively to student (and donor) requests for expanded access to emergency contraception (EC). 

When students and donors requested that EC be made available through a vending machine — a trend at campuses across the country — the Health and Wellness team researched the service and found it would come with significant expense and maintenance. Instead, the team worked together to develop a model that makes EC available with no out-of-pocket cost for students at the pharmacy and includes monthly "pop-ups'' where students can access free EC and safer sex supplies, as well as information and education. The pop-ups are in central campus locations and are staffed by BWell Health Promotion and Health Services providers, along with students from BWell’s Sexual Health Awareness Peer Education Group (SHAG).  

The initiative links students to education and to other health care services — offering equitable access regardless of economics or gender — and provides this expanded access and care all within Brown’s existing systems of outreach and care, rather than introducing the management of a vending machine.

Joel Simundich
Dean of the College
In a short two years at Brown, Joel has reimagined the work of Fellowships advising, transforming an already successful office into one that centers equity and inclusion. Joel and his small team support more than 250 students each year who apply to more than 20 fellowship opportunities. Most applications require multiple personal essays and/or project proposals along with letters of recommendation, and many require a personal interview. Joel and his team prepare students for every step of the way.

First as the assistant director and now as the assistant dean for fellowships, Joel has tirelessly redoubled the team’s outreach to students from historically underrepresented groups (HUGs) by Brown’s internal review processes for nomination-based fellowships such as the Truman, Beinecke, Rhodes and Marshall, Joel restructured campus review processes to ensure greater equity and provided increased advising to help applicants submit more competitive materials. Moreover, Joel recognized that Brown students are increasingly applying for fellowships that the office may not have previously offered advising to support. He shifted this approach to support applicants to opportunities such as the needs-based Obama Voyager Scholarship and the Pickering, Rangel, John Robert Lewis Scholars and Keasbey fellowships, nearly all of which are structured to support HUG students.

Leadership

Department of Economics (Team)
Dean of the Faculty
During the past several years, the staff of the economics department, led by Department Manager Kim Departie, has ably managed increased enrollments, an expanded faculty roster and a more than doubling of the department’s non-remuneration-related expense base. This high-performing group seamlessly organizes tens of conferences and seminars each semester (including travel, catering and expenses), oversees approximately two dozen separate sources of endowment and research funding and coordinates activities with departments across the University. 

Over the past three years, Kim and the team have revamped the staff organization to streamline processes and better serve this broad group of faculty, students and staff. From large events to smaller daily processes, the team has made it very easy for department members to accomplish what they need. This high level of support for the department has become particularly evident over the first two months of this academic year, when (due to ongoing remediation work) the staff’s offices were unusable.  Despite working from spare offices and common-room couches, the staff made the opening of the academic year seamless.

The staff is deeply vested in their work and the overall mission of the University. Whether it is responding to an after-hours query or participating actively in Commencement and Reunion Weekend, this team goes the “extra mile.”

Rising Star

Sarah Wojtusik
School of Professional Studies
In the 18 months since she was hired as the content marketing specialist at the School of Professional Studies (SPS), Sarah Wojtusik has had such a positive influence on the team, bringing her inspiring vision, contagious personality and tremendous work ethic. Sarah is responsible for generating website copy, social media posts, email communications, newsletter copy, memos, speeches and more for all of Brown’s professional and master’s programs. This summer, she developed content and mapped customer journeys for more than 20 nurturing email campaigns, and she has doubled the school’s LinkedIn followers with her engaging content.

Sarah has an innate storytelling ability to take a spark of an idea and bring it to life. She effortlessly interacts with alumni, drawing out unique pieces of their story and then masterfully putting them together into an inspiring piece that highlights not only the individual but also the influence that Brown has had on their life. Many alumni share their stories on their social pages, helping to build our follower base and awareness of the school.

As if she didn’t already have enough on her plate, Sarah has an amazing eye for design and creates striking pieces for our emails and social posts. She has dedicated her time, talent and heart to her work, and it shows through all of her wonderful contributions.

Service

Multidisciplinary Teaching Laboratories Staff (Team)
Division of Biology and Medicine
The staff of the Multidisciplinary Teaching Laboratories (MDL) supports the Summer@Brown pre-college program, which brings more than 1,000 high school students from all over the world to take STEM classes in the MDL over a five-week period. The staff interacts with instructors before the program to help design and order supplies for the labs and during the program sets up and breaks down the labs in a very condensed time period. On average in 2023, there were 13 labs that ran every day, covering 39 hours of lab time from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Staff had limited time to switch between classes, which increased the workload and stress levels. Every member of the MDL worked as a team to get the job done.

The MDL staff truly made a difference in providing a positive STEM experience for high school students. For many students, it was their first time in a research lab, so it made a difference in how they view science and how they view themselves pursuing a career in science. For instructors, the MDL staff’s fantastic service is why many return to teach in the summer program. Working with the MDL staff has allowed them to think big and creatively in designing meaningful moments for their students.

Vincent Abbaticola
Facilities Management | Electrical
In his role as a lead electrician, Vincent Abbaticola is in charge of all the electrical requirements for events, athletics and student activities. This is a tremendous undertaking, especially during Commencement and Reunion Weekend, when many dozens of setups are required. Without Vincent's planning and hard work there would be no power, lights or sound, and every year he performs this overwhelming task so efficiently that it is not even noticed or acknowledged.

Vincent also troubleshooted several major electrical issues around campus this year. When the exterior shades on the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts stopped running and original parts were no longer available, he went way above to get this essential system working properly with support from a new vendor  —  a major accomplishment that preserved the building’s design. A similar issue occurred at Metcalf Research Building when the lighting started to fail and the original vendor was no longer producing vital components. Vincent took it upon himself to design a substitute solution that was cost effective and resulted in a fully functional lighting system.

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Sarah Brown
Campus Life | Brown Center for Career Exploration
Since coming to Brown in 2015, Sarah Brown has worked tirelessly to ensure that all students feel welcome at the (recently renamed) Brown Center for Career Exploration and that they have equal access to resources, programs and opportunities. For many years that work focused primarily on her diligent and caring management of the SPRINT program, which provides students with funding for research and internship opportunities. In the last few years, and most notably in the last year, Sarah took on substantial work above and beyond the responsibilities in her job description.

Sarah focused on developing a robust set of identity-based career resources and creating and co-leading the center’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Working Group, which has improved the staff’s cultural competencies, deepened their relationships with Brown’s identity centers and improved their ability to connect with and support students from historically underrepresented groups.  

Most notably, Sarah and her intern created a database that allows students to search resources based on multiple identities at once, a function that few of our peer intuitions offer their students.  Maintaining this database requires regular updates, which Sarah continues to make. And Sarah is constantly considering feedback from students and others as she develops the next iteration of these resources.

Mac Manning
Campus Life | Office of Military Affiliated Students
Mac Manning serves as the program director for the Office of Military Affiliated Students (OMAS), which is dedicated to supporting student veterans, ROTC cadets and other military-affiliated students in their transitions into and out of the Brown community. In his role, Mac provides essential guidance and advice to military-affiliated students, ensuring their successful integration into campus life. He collaborates with admissions to attract talented veterans to Brown and works closely with the financial aid office to guarantee students have the necessary resources for their studies.

Under Mac's guidance, the number of programs designed to enhance students' sense of community, belonging and academic success has increased twofold. These initiatives empower students with the necessary resources, fostering a more inclusive environment and promoting academic excellence among our military-affiliated community members. His efforts have resulted in the largest-ever cohort of new undergraduate student veterans this fall, surpassing our goal of doubling the number of student veterans at Brown a year ahead of schedule. Mac's leadership in recruitment and retention, strategic partnerships with the U.S. Department of Defense and collaborations with various campus offices have been instrumental in achieving this milestone.

Mac's exceptional ability to connect with people stands out. He has built trusting relationships with students, ensuring that every veteran feels a sense of belonging within the Brown community. His dedication and contributions have had a profound impact on both the military-affiliated community and Brown University as a whole.

Brown Center for Students of Color (Team)
Campus Life
The Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC) is one of six identity and community-based centers at Brown University. It serves as a welcoming and supportive space for all students to explore their identities, develop leadership skills and build a sense of belonging. The BCSC staff dedicates considerable effort to ensuring students feel welcome and safe within the center.

One notable program that aligns with the goals of community building and identity development is the Third World Transition Program (TWTP), a pre-orientation initiative. TWTP is designed to promote interracial understanding among first-year students and raise awareness of issues faced by minority students in a predominantly white institution. It offers students a platform to explore and discuss social identities while introducing them to campus resources. These discussions continue throughout the year through interactions with minority peer counselors in residence halls and at the BCSC.

This fall, the BCSC welcomed nearly 200 students to campus before the general new student orientation. The entire BCSC team worked tirelessly throughout the five-day program to ensure that every student had a transformative experience and felt a genuine sense of belonging. Furthermore, the BCSC staff recruited and trained over 30 student leaders to provide support, mentorship and guidance to the new first-year students. The success of this year's TWTP program was remarkable. It attracted a record number of participants, received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and left a lasting impression on parents and families, who noted its transformative impact on their students.

EXCELLENCE AWARD SELECTION COMMITTEE

Special thanks to this year’s Excellence Award Selection Committee who read dozens of nominations! We could not have done this without their incredible insight, expertise, and hard work!

  • Tiffini Bowers, John Hay Library 
  • Jeff Cabral, American Studies 
  • Deborah Dunphy, Facilities Management 
  • Robert Eaton, Finance Division 
  • Liza Hebert, Student Affairs 
  • Michelle Salmans, Office of the Dean of the Faculty 
  • Jessica Porter, Graduate School 
  • Carolyn Gridelli, BioMed Human Resources 
  • Margaret Santiago, School of Public Health 
  • Aryn Fine, English 
  • Jamie Tyrol, The College