Outstanding Staff Awards 2014
Outstanding Staff Award winners and their co-workers, friends and families, gathered to celebrate the recognition afforded the winners. Photo credit: Carolyn Gonzales.

The Provost’s Committee for Staff recently presented the Outstanding Staff Awards 2014. It was the 25th anniversary of the awards, created in 1989, by then-Provost F. Chris Garcia in the year UNM celebrated its Centennial.

Provost’s Committee for Staff Vice Chair Steven Peralta, Engineering Student Services, and computer science instructor, served as the emcee of the event.

Individual PCS winners are: Dawn Blue Sky-Hill, Community Enrichment and Outreach Programs, Student Support Services; Elizabeth Castillo, Community and Regional Planning, School of Architecture and Planning; Ramsey Lofton, College of Fine Arts Administration.

Winner of the PCS work group is: Office of the Associate Vice Provost for Student Services Collective Impact and Outlook Group. Members include Renee Delgado-Riley, Carolina Aguirre, Rosa Isela Cervantes, Vicky Dueer, Kiran Katira, Heather Mechler, Tim Schroeder and Robert Christner.

Dawn Blue Sky-Hill is a program specialist for the federally funded Student Support Services (SSS) TRiO, within College Enrichment and Outreach. Students in her program are low income, first generation or have disabilities.

Blue Sky-Hill conducts academic, financial, personal, career and graduate school advising. Her nominator wrote, “She is truly the backbone of SSS. She is always willing to stop everything to listen to students’ needs and concerns. She is a wonderful role model. She is inspirational – a leader, mentor, sister and a second mother to me and many of the SSS students.”

Ramsey Lofton is director of Community Engagement & Internships in the College of Fine Arts Management Program, where she is responsible for outreach and development of the Arts Management minor, as well as internships. She also teaches courses through the Freshman Learning Communities for several years.

Peralta said, “Her passion and collaborative spirit have been the heart of the program. Her expertise as an artist and educator provide the foundation for the program.” 

Her nominator wrote, “She is well connected in the arts community in New Mexico and is ‘tuned in’ to the needs and demands of the art community and business.  She is concerned with students’ diverse backgrounds and needs.  She has high expectations for herself and for her students, which prepares them for the world beyond the campus environment.  Moreover, Ramsey is generous with her expertise and time.”

Elizabeth Castillo is the administrative assistant 3 in the School of Architecture and Planning Community and Regional Planning program. Castillo goes “above and beyond to complete the tasks required of her position and also helps students and faculty in extra-curricular activities,” Peralta said.

Castillo’s nominator wrote,” Liz is extraordinary in her professional and administrative role, and is an exceptionally positive and capable presence in the program at the school.  Faculty and students go to Liz with questions, problems and dilemmas.  Liz listens patiently and then finds ways to solve the problems and address their questions.  Liz is intelligent, thorough and without a doubt, the most effective staff person I have worked with at UNM.”

The PCS group award winner, AVPSS Collective Impact and Outlook Group, is responsible for creating a viable and sustainable model for student data tracking for the student datamart.

Their nominator wrote, “Student Services has designed holistic programming for student success – not just for underserved students – but for all students.  The impact of these programs has positively affected retention and graduation.  A majority of the individuals within this work group have experienced and lived some of the same challenges the students face and have risen above and beyond as staff members to give back and establish better processes for tracking student success data in order to make better informed decisions about student programming and interventions.”

Peralta noted that this group has been a catalyst for collaboration with the Office of Institutional Analytics, Provost’s Office and College of Arts & Sciences along with the entire Division of Student Affairs.

Peralta thanked his fellow committee members Dorene DiNaro, Vicky Dueer, Rosa Garcia-Rhea, Kitty Hays, Lois Kennedy, Ana Parra Lombard, Lauren Medrano, Rachel Perovich, Josh Saiz, Cynthia Salas, Beverly Shead, Kiyoko Simmons and Joe Suilmann.