Six academic professionals received 2011 Chancellor's Academic Professional Excellence awards at a reception April 1 at the I Hotel and Conference Center.
Academic professionals perform a wide range of vital functions for the campus community. They provide critical administrative support, support research laboratories and educational programs, and offer important outreach programs throughout the state. Now in its 23rd year, the program is intended to honor the accomplishments and contributions of selected academic professionals.
Recipients are selected for work, personal and professional contributions. Each award winner receives $2,000 - a $1,000 increase in base salary and a $1,000 one-time budget increase for his/her department.
Jack Brighton, director of new media and innovation, Illinois Public Media
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
"Jack Brighton's work has been critical to the success of Illinois Public Media for more than 20 years," wrote Mark Leonard, Illinois Public Media general manager.
Brighton, director of new media and innovation for IPM, was hired as a producer for WILL radio in 1987 and helped establish "Focus 580 With David Inge" as one of the best local public radio talk shows in the nation.
As the Internet grew, Brighton grew with it. He learned HTML design and created a number of websites for IPM - some 100,000 pages - including two sites that have won the Campus Webmasters' "Cool Website" award. Using surplus equipment, he began streaming WILL programming on the Internet in 1998 and later designed an archives automation system using inexpensive software.
Brighton is responsible for all of IPM's websites, streaming services, social media, digital media systems integration, e-commerce, Web services and applications. He is leading a five-year capital campaign to address future technology needs and innovation, including the completion of the digital TV transition.
Across campus, Brighton is known for his knowledge and ability to gather people and lead them to common solutions. When he was chair of the Campus Webmasters group from 2002 to 2007, membership grew from 200 to 600 people. His leadership drove quality and accessibility improvements to websites across campus.
In 2004 he saw a need for a similar group to address best practices for rich media and formed the Educational Media Group, now called the Center for Media Excellence. Brighton also has become a leader - on campus and nationally - in preserving digital media content.
Nan Rubin, the director of Preserving Digital Public Television, a Library of Congress-funded project, met Brighton in the early days of her project and he quickly became a trusted colleague. "He developed new archive procedures and test practices which have made Illinois Public Media a model across public radio, television and online media."
Angelina Cotler, associate director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Illinois has been flourishing for the past several years, and one key contributor to that success is Angelina Cotler, associate director of the center in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Co-workers say Cotler exudes enthusiasm because she cares deeply about the center, the university and the interdisciplinary study of Latin American culture.
The center is a small unit and Cotler is an "administrative anchor" whose duties vary widely. She supervises undergraduate and graduate programs, both majors and minors; serves as an adviser for several dozen students; works with the director to create academic programming for the center and to write and administer the external grants that pay more than 90 percent of its operating expenses.
She recently helped initiate two positions at the center by training a new outreach coordinator, and by defining the job of program coordinator in the center's new Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies.
Known for efficiency and dependability, Cotler also is recognized for her creativity. Her innovations for the center include the development of two new minor degree programs in Latin American Studies; creation of the CLACS This Week communication to faculty members, students and friends throughout Central Illinois; and the initiation of the Latin American Film Festival at the Art Theater in Champaign.
Cotler has made outstanding choices in developing programming for the CLACS weekly lecture series. Through attractive programming and her efforts to generate publicity, average attendance at those lectures has doubled during her tenure.
Her counterpart at the University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies, Josh Beck, wrote, "The quality and efficiency of her work, her engaging personal demeanor, and her high degree of professionalism all reflect very positively on the University of Illinois and are deserving of special recognition."
Bill Goodman, assistant dean for business, administration and technology for the College of Applied Health Sciences
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Bill Goodman, assistant dean for business, administration and technology for the College of Applied Health Sciences, leads the college's resource planning and technology offices and is a primary adviser for its strategic planning. In those two roles, he has contributed greatly to a period of unprecedented growth for the college. At the same time, his careful financial planning, as well as his leadership in the creation of collegewide shared services, have allowed the college to operate without a budget deficit through recent years of budget cuts. As the senior budget and financial officer in the college, he makes difficult decisions, but retains the respect and confidence of his colleagues.
Goodman is a master of gathering various planning elements to keep projects moving toward the college's long-term goals. He translates complicated data and budgets into language that clearly informs administrative decisions. He pulls together the right people, from inside and outside the college, at the right time, and with the right information to get things done.
Goodman is responsible for the physical management of five AHS facilities across campus. He excels in daily management, as well as planning for major renovations, such as the ongoing Huff Hall North Addition project. As assistant dean, Goodman planned for the speech-language pathology clinic in the UI Research Park. His effectiveness in facility management is evident in updated research laboratories and modernized living and learning areas for students across campus.
Brad Hedrick, the director of the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services, credits Goodman as a key contributor to planning and developing Timothy J. Nugent Hall, a nationally recognized, state-of-the art residence hall for students with severe disabilities. "He was a principal contributor to the design of the dining facility and residence hall," Hedrick wrote, working to ensure that "amenities served to optimize the independence and access for students with severe physical disabilities."
Hadi Rangin, Web accessibility specialist for the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Hadi Rangin, Web accessibility specialist for the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services, leads the university's efforts in improving the accessibility of Web-based resources and services. In the past, institutions had a difficult time getting vendors to improve their products for accessibility. But Rangin has developed a very successful approach. He builds coalitions among universities and other organizations that have an interest in the accessibility of a particular product. By banding together to show the broad interest in (and market for) online tools that are accessible, vendors are much more likely to be responsive.
Rangin works with the allied organizations to create detailed issue lists of specific accessibility problems and improvements. His grasp of technical issues and ability to communicate accessibility issues make it easy for the vendors' product development teams to be responsive. Stephanie Weeks, of Blackboard Inc., says Rangin was "a significant driver in Blackboard's ability to understand the needs of our users with disabilities."
Rangin's collaborations have been so successful that he's been invited to speak about them to professional organizations nationally and internationally. He built a website to help higher education institutes find collaborators, manage membership, post teleconference minutes and track issues.
Jim Wilson, the director of Web Services for Public Affairs, says Rangin has been a tremendous resource as his office sought solutions to accessibility issues with the Web Services Toolbox. "Hadi would not only review every aspect of a Web project and identify accessibility problems but he would also recommend a solution, often providing a fully coded, working prototype of that solution," Wilson said. "He takes the time to ensure that we understand the solution, thus empowering us to solve similar problems in the future."
Rangin is a leader in making the electronic information systems more accessible for students at Illinois and throughout the world. Jon Gunderson, the campus coordinator of IT accessibility, wrote: "(Rangin) has given his all to improve IT accessibility. His work has helped raise the stature of the University of Illinois as a leader in making information technologies used in higher education more accessible. He has made Illinois a model for other universities to emulate."
Curtis Sinclair, Extension educator, camp manager and program director, 4-H Memorial Camp
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
When Curtis T. Sinclair was hired in 1993 as manager of the 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello, he inherited aging facilities (circa 1940s) and a program suffering from declining enrollment and limited operating income. With creative approaches and an ability to rally others to his cause, Sinclair has overseen what statewide 4-H Director Denise Legvold calls "a stunning turnaround."
Sinclair began by asking users to define priorities for programs and facilities. He responded quickly to their input with two successful new programs aimed at families: sibling discounts and a "bring a friend" program. He raised visibility of the camp and began to market it as a venue for annual events for such statewide groups as the Illinois Diabetes Association, Rotary and Future Farmers of America. The camp had operated a low-ropes challenge course for team building and to teach leadership. Sinclair developed a high adventure version that includes high ropes, a 40-foot climbing tower, and zip lines that have proven very popular with student organizations and other community organizations. Overall, annual use of the 4-H Memorial Camp has nearly tripled.
Sinclair's success at marketing the camp and creating programs is matched by his drive to improve the facilities. He began a cabin replacement program in 1996, funded half by internal camp funds and half from private gifts. He collaborated with the Lincoln's Challenge Program in Rantoul, exchanging leadership training for Cadets' help with the demolition of old cabins. Sinclair is now leading a campaign to renovate the camp's historic dining hall. Thanks to his success increasing utilization and revenues, the first phase of that project was funded completely by internal funds.
For the visitors to 4-H Memorial Camp, Sinclair may be best remembered for the personal relationship he builds with campers. James Craft, the executive secretary of Illinois FFA, says Sinclair "invests a bit of himself in each child to make certain they have the greatest educational experience possible."
Pamela Utterback, research specialist in the department of animal sciences
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Reflecting on his decision eight years ago to hire Pamela Utterback as a research specialist in the department of animal sciences to help with his studies on poultry nutrition, professor Carl Parsons is unequivocal: "It is without a doubt the best professional decision I have made in my career! She has greatly exceeded my expectations and the responsibilities of her job title in research, teaching and public service."
Utterback began raising poultry during third grade, earned a bachelor of science in animal sciences at Illinois, and became the research manager for DEKALB Poultry Research Inc., before returning to campus to work with Parsons. Her interest in poultry, plus her experience and knowledge in poultry nutrition, have made her an important member of the poultry nutrition team.
Utterback manages a flock of adult roosters used for digestibility trials. Illinois is one of the few places in the world that runs this specific assay, and it attracts both national and international collaborations. She assists farm employees by formulating practical and research diets, coordinating hatches and designing research experiments. She oversees research by graduate and undergraduate students, advises students, teaches classes and prepares labs. With her numerous industry and academic contacts, she frequently helps students with job placement.
Her own research has ranged from antibody production in eggs to nutrition for molting hens. She has collaborated with reproductive physiologists and gynecologists from this campus, UIC and Rush Medical Center to study ovarian cancer in hens as it relates to human ovarian cancer. She has written or co-written 27 scientific journal articles, many listing her as senior author.
Utterback is an outstanding representative of the university and spends much of her free time traveling to schools and meetings of 4-H, Future Farmers of America and Rotary and Exchange clubs - just about anywhere she can find people who want to learn about poultry.
"Our poultry nutrition program is ranked as one of the top three in the nation," Parsons says. "There is no way that we could have this high national ranking without Pam Utterback."