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Annual ASU Staff Excellence Awards Winners

March 08, 2018

Four Angelo State University staff members – Chris Steele, Phillip Nichelson, Kerri Mikulik and Jason Brake – have earned the 2017 President’s Awards for Staff Excellence, and another – Kevin Conner – has received the annual Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award for Execution.

(L to R) Chris Steele, Kerri Mikulik, Kevin Conner, Phillip Nichelson and Jason Brake(L to R) Chris Steele, Kerri Mikulik, Kevin Conner, Phillip Nichelson and Jason BrakeThe honorees were recognized during an awards ceremony March 8 on campus. The President’s Awards for Staff Excellence recipients were selected from 38 nominees, and the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award honoree was chosen from nine nominees. The four Staff Excellence Awards recipients each received a $1,000 honorarium and a presentation piece, while the Rowan Award winner received a $1,500 honorarium. 

Chris SteeleChris SteeleChris Steele, technology services analyst and project lead in Information Technology, received the President’s Award for Commitment to Excellence. Hailed as an “unsung hero,” Steele was honored not only for his technical expertise and problem-solving ability, but also for the pride he takes in dealing with customers and vendors, as well as mentoring his IT teammates. From his nomination letter, he is “a natural at finding ways to make improvements that help those around him” and “level-headed when determining which action should be taken in order to give us the biggest bang for our buck.” He also “takes challenges head on” and “has been an integral part of the growth and expertise of the IT Project Management Team.” Lauded as both a “seasoned veteran” and a “servant worker,” he has “shown amazing commitment to the success of ASU.” 

Phillip NichelsonPhillip NichelsonPhillip Nichelson, veterans specialist for the Office of Affiliated Military and Veteran Services, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Customer Service. Lauded as a “poster child role model for positive attitude in the workplace,” Nichelson was honored for the way he manages the military education benefits files for more than 900 students while also juggling his many other daily duties. From his nomination letter, he is “perpetually optimistic and enthusiastic” and “fearless in tackling projects or problems, regardless of scope or complexity.” While maintaining productivity and efficiency, he also tutors veteran students and takes a particular interest in helping veteran students and their dependents in their job searches. He is “passionate about providing the finest customer service possible,” “has developed an extraordinary team of VA student workers” and “provides all of ASU’s service member students and their spouses and dependents with genuine, untiring support.” 

Kerri MikulikKerri MikulikKerri Mikulik, assistant director of admissions, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Innovation. She was honored for the creation and maintenance of ASU’s dual credit program, which currently enrolls about 3,000 students who receive high school and college credit for courses taken at their high school campuses. She also created an application that enabled ASU’s 27 dual credit partner schools easier access for their students to apply for the dual credit program. While managing a program that has more students than any of ASU’s academic colleges, she also created training and in-service for the high school teachers who teach dual credit courses. From her nomination letter, “Two of Kerri’s best attributes are her abilities to truly ‘think outside the box’ and to always look for improved processes…Without a doubt, she is the reason our program is running as smoothly as it does.” 

Jason BrakeJason BrakeJason Brake, information technology security officer, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. A “selfless, driven leader,” Brake is responsible for leading the team that mitigates security threats to the campus IT infrastructure. He was honored for not only his role in securing campus information and anticipating future threats, but also for his growth as a leader over the past several years. His role requires communication throughout the ASU campus, Texas Tech University System and Department of Information Resources. He was lauded for his ability to deliver clear and open communication, his ability to motivate and encourage his team, and his ability to find solutions and achieve positive results. From his nomination letter, “Jason engages and stretches the IT Team and our campus stakeholders to keep information security at the forefront of every solution…Jason holds the values of Angelo State near and dear, and his behavior and ethics serve as examples that could be used in a training course for all of us.”

Kevin ConnerKevin ConnerKevin Conner, information technology analyst, earned the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award, which annually recognizes a staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in carrying out a major project during the last academic year. Conner was honored for his work with the ASU enrollment management team to implement a new software application called TargetX and integrate it with the team’s existing Salesforce customer relationship management software. Hundreds of thousands of student records had to be converted to the new system, and Conner “was instrumental in converting this data as accurately as possible.” He was also lauded for keeping the project team on schedule and continuing to stay involved once the system was implemented while still managing his other job duties. His several nomination letters state, “The capabilities of the system combined with Kevin’s abilities have made this far more than a ‘project.’ It has truly transformed the ways we work to recruit and communicate with students.” Also, “Kevin is excellent at his job and deserves this recognition of his willingness to work above and beyond for the good of the university.” 

Other nominees for the President’s Awards for Staff Excellence, by department, were: Jessica Behringer, Admissions; Maggie Blair, College of Education; Debra Byrd, Engineering; Princess Fiel-Murphy, Mathematics; Mary Anne Lowe, College of Business; Jessica Manning, Business Services; Judith McAnanama, Facilities Management; Samuel Mendoza, Student Life; Brittney Miller, Communications and Marketing; Adelina Morales, President’s Office; Jennifer Price-Fierro, Nursing; Duane Pruitt; Budget and Payroll Services; Wendy Sklenarik, College of Education; Marla Daugherty, Visual and Performing Arts; Daniel Martinez, College of Education; Jason McCarver, Information Technology; Belinda Saaranen, Computer Science; Christina van Ittersum, Communications and Marketing; and Ty Walden, Information Technology. 

Also: Jody Casares, Biology; Katie Dixon, Information Technology; Mike Gustin, Facilities Management; Angela Howell, Archer College of Health and Human Services; Melody Kelley, College of Arts and Humanities; Ruben Limon, Facilities Management; Mark Multer, Facilities Management; Manuel San Miguel, Archer College of Health and Human Services; Mary Snowden, College of Education; Justina Stark, Finance and Administration; Dallas Swafford, Student Disability Services; Alma Valdez, Political Science and Philosophy; Tara Hart, Admissions; Amanda Ritchie, Multicultural and Student Activities Programs; and Meagan Word, College of Education. 

Other nominees for the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award were: Ashley Baccus, Communication and Mass Media; Kevin Conner, Information Technology; Princess Fiel-Murphy, Mathematics; Cody Guins, Facilities, Planning and Construction; Erin Johnson, Porter Henderson Library; Melody Kelley, College of Arts and Humanities; Katie Plum, Sponsored Projects; Wendy Sklenarik, College of Education; and Ty Walden, Information Technology.