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Eight honored with Chancellor’s Distinguished Staff Award

INSIDE ILLINOIS, April 15, 2010       [ Email | Share ]

Eight staff employees were honored with the Chancellor’s Distinguished Staff Award at a banquet April 13. The award recognizes exceptional performance; each recipient receives $2,000 and a plaque. Recipients’ names also are engraved on a plaque displayed in the Staff Human Resources Office. Past winners are listed on the Web at

Permanent staff employees with at least two years of service or retired employees in status appointments during the calendar year may be nominated for the award. A committee recommends finalists, who are then approved by the chancellor.

Keenan Detrick Anderson
Keenan Detrick Anderson | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Keenan Detrick Anderson, a main desk attendant at the Illini Union’s Quad Shop for nearly seven years, has worked at the Illini Union for more than 25 years. According to his supervisor, retail service coordinator James Trail, Anderson is at the heart of making the store a great place for fellow employees and guests.

“Keenan has set a high standard for himself and the people that he works with but is always able to enforce this standard in an open, caring and professional manner,” Trail wrote in nominating Anderson. “I know that when I assign Keenan a task it will be completed quickly and competently and that it will not have to be repeatedly explained. In a retail environment, this is critical and Keenan is a key to our success.”

Trail believes that Anderson’s positive morale and high customer service standards make a difference. When he is not at the counter, regular customers always ask, “Where’s Keenan?”

“Keenan is able to affect the people with whom he comes in contact in the most positive way that I have ever seen,” Trail said. “He cares about what he does and that caring shows in the work that he does every day.”


Kevin Booky
Kevin Booky | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Kevin A. Booky, a parking service technician in the Division of Facilities and Services, has worked on campus for more than 16 years. “Kevin is highly skilled at his trade and is a valuable asset to F&S and the university,” wrote Traice Quinn, a staff clerk in F&S who nominated Booky on behalf of the Facilities and Services Employee Recognition Committee.

As part of his job, Booky issues citations, assists motorists, collects and reports data, suggests parking regulation revisions and trains personnel.

F&S has received calls of thanks from customers that Kevin has helped through difficult situations. He takes it upon himself to double-check with management when there is an event scheduled to make sure that the public is informed where they are allowed to park so they won’t get ticketed.

“Kevin has without a doubt demonstrated excellence in his overall work performance, exhibited initiative and creativity resulting in improved operating efficiency of the department and university,” Quinn wrote. “He has promoted positive morale by providing services to others. He is held in high regard by his supervisors and co-workers. His abilities and friendly attitude have earned their respect.”


Nancy M. Breningmeyer
Nancy M. Breningmeyer | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Nancy M. Breningmeyer, an office support associate, is the first person people see when they visit the Coles County Extension office.

“As the sole office-support person in a busy Extension office serving Mattoon, Charleston and surrounding communities, Nancy has had to develop skills in many areas,” wrote Kathy Reiser, associate regional director for UI Extension, in her nomination letter. “This includes roles as bookkeeper, desktop publisher, editor, master organizer, marketer and reference specialist, among others.”

Breningmeyer has worked for UI Extension for 27 years. “Her colleagues say they are ‘spoiled’ because Nancy just knows what to do and goes about doing it,” Reiser wrote.

Breningmeyer developed an Excel-based system that streamlined recordkeeping for Master Gardeners. Now the volunteers are able to spend more time doing what they enjoy and the office has better documentation on the Master Gardeners’ considerable contributions to their communities. She also assists with the hundreds of calls from local residents with questions on topics ranging from livestock production to food safety to consumer credit to garden pests.

In addition, she continues to embrace new technologies. She was one of the first to sign up for an online social media seminar and is actively thinking about how Coles County Extension might use these new tools to reach new and existing audiences.


Becky Sue Burkland
Becky Sue Burklund | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Becky Sue Burklund is a recruiting assistant for Business Career Services in the College of Business. The office serves undergraduate and graduate students in the college, providing career counseling for students seeking internships and full-time positions and assisting employers with recruiting those students.

“Becky is the ‘front line’ for employers and their recruiting needs,” wrote Kimberly Surles, associate director for employer relations and recruitment. The office hosts more than 400 companies on campus each year and maintains a database of more than 4,000 companies and 10,000 contacts.

 Burklund schedules on-campus interviews and presentations, assists with job postings, and generally assists employers in reaching the students. Additionally, she enters extensive data from student and employer placement surveys, runs reports from the database, assists with publications and is always willing to assist with any project that comes across her desk.

“For some corporate recruiters, we are the only contact they have with the UI and Becky strongly believes in serving our clients with the best customer service possible,” Surles wrote. “She is an extremely valuable member of the Business Career Services team. She started with us 3  years ago after working for a small bank for 20 years. She has quickly excelled in customer service and is the definition of teamwork. Her positive attitude impacts the entire office.”

Cinda Robbins-Cornstubble
Cinda Robbins-Cornstubble | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Cinda Robbins-Cornstubble, a program administrative assistant in the department of advertising in the College of Media, has been crucial to the success of the department, according to department head Jan Slater, who nominated her.

Cornstubble has been at the university since 1977 and in the department of advertising for 16 years. “When I arrived as department head in fall 2007,” Slater wrote, “ I was the 10th person in seven years to hold that position. During the revolving door of interim and permanent heads, it was Cinda that held the department together and it was Cinda that made certain what needed to be done got done.”

Cornstubble directs all of the department’s study abroad programs and is working to develop more. She supervises the student advisory team, organizes the department’s annual Advertising Week, advises graduate students, oversees graduate admissions, administers Senior Saturday, arranges for all guest speakers and visitors (such as prospective students or job candidates) and supervised the two-day Sandage Symposium last fall that celebrated the department’s 50th anniversary.

“I trust her and depend on her immensely,” Slater said. “She is at the forefront of all activities and bears a great deal of responsibility in bringing them to successful fruition. She is a resourceful, creative and solution-oriented person and is highly respected by all.”


Kathy Duvall
Kathy Duvall | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Kathy Duvall, an operations and support specialist in the Division of Measurement and Evaluation in the Center for Teaching Excellence, currently supervises the ICES and Exam group. This group is responsible for campuswide optical scanning of the instructor and course evaluation system (ICES), classroom tests, research projects, as well as the placement and proficiency testing of incoming students. After administering exams or student ratings of instruction, the forms are sent to Duvall and her staff for scanning and analysis. As the supervisor, Duvall assumes a wide range of responsibilities to ensure smooth and effective operations.

“Kathy is always flexible, insightful and willing to work through issues so our clients receive the needed output from our office,” said Chris Migotsky, head of the division.  “She has a positive outlook and a desire to please faculty from across campus. She provides a wealth of information and is an anchor for our office.”

Duvall has worked at the UI for 40 years, with more than 30 years spent at CTE. Her group processes about 14,000 instructor/course evaluations (275,000 evaluation forms) and 2,800 classroom exams (370,000 test sheets) each year.

With this volume of data, not every report runs smoothly the first time. “Duvall will intercede (with the angry client), determine what went wrong (often an incorrect exam key provided by the instructor) and explain how we will rectify the situation and get them what they need within the hour,” Migotsky wrote.

“She has a can-do attitude that she brings to the office in her work with both clients and co-workers. She doesn’t just talk about quality service, she leads by example.”


Yvonne M. Knigh
Yvonne M. Knight | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Yvonne M. Knight, an administrative clerk in the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics since 2004, is responsible for making, adjusting and monitoring graduate, academic and civil service appointments for all units in the school.

With the reorganization of the diverse units in the Foreign Languages Building into one school, Knight’s position became even more important to a large number of academic units with diverse faculty members and students and an array of needs.

“(During the transition), her dedication and commitment ensured that faculty and students understood the process and worked for a good outcome,” wrote Mara R. Wade, a professor of and the head of Germanic languages and literatures, who nominated Knight.

“Our faculty and graduate students come from many parts of the world and many have complicated international appointments,” Wade said. “Von is the HR person with full responsibility for all 160 faculty members and all 450 graduate students in the school.” Knight is always able to explain complicated procedures and paperwork in a clear and friendly manner even if English is not the native language of the person she is talking with.

“Von’s competence creates a better work environment for all of the 600 faculty and graduate students for whom she is responsible for in the school,” Wade said. “She bears an enormous responsibility and accomplishes her work with integrity and good humor.”


Robert Keith Parris
Robert Keith Parrish | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Robert Keith Parrish, a research laboratory shop supervisor in the department of mechanical science and engineering, provides general and technical supervision of work performed in the machine shop. He also is responsible for the department’s instructional machining and manufacturing laboratories.

Among his responsibilities: plans, distributes and directs the shop’s daily work flow; supervises three machinists; meets with clients; prepares invoices of project charges; and cares and maintains all shop tools and equipment.

In addition to his supervisory role, Parrish is a “very competent machinist with more than 35 years of experience,” wrote Robert E. Coverdill, a senior research engineer and the director of engineering and technical services, in his letter nominating Parrish. “He routinely works with computerized drawings and computer numerically controlled milling machines and electrical discharge machining systems. He also works with other shops and off-campus vendors to provide customers with other processes, such as water-jet cutting and rapid-prototyping parts manufacturing.”

“It is a testament to his skills that he has been able to manage the workload of the shop with a down-sized staff, while maintaining his unfailing good humor, attitude and spirit of cooperation. In my nearly 23 years of managing technical services in this department, morale within the shop has never been higher, which is hard to imagine given the extremely stressful financial conditions that the university is currently facing.”



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