Six UVM staff members were recognized for their extraordinary contributions and overall impact on the university on May 5 at the inaugural President’s Our Common Ground Staff Award recognition breakfast in Billings Library.

Honorees were chosen from a pool of 24 nominees for exemplifying the qualities of the University of Vermont’s Our Common Ground, the statement of aspirations and shared values of our community: respect, integrity, innovation, openness, justice and responsibility. 

Honorees were presented with a hand-crafted award designed by local artist Chris Reck that UVM President Tom Sullivan said embodies the values expressed in the President’s Our Common Ground award. Anchored by a piece of red cambrian sedimentary rock known as Monkton quartzite used in many of the university’s buildings, the award features the Our Common Ground statement transposed on an intricate woodcarving map of the campus.

“Like these exceptional foundations created by hand from the red rocks of Vermont, our award recipients work every day to provide the foundational support this university needs to accomplish its educational mission,” said Sullivan. “This carved map, made from Vermont maple, represents not only this beautiful place but also the broad collaborative efforts of every staff member across campus...the statement of aspirations transposed on the map of campus represents the very crucial way that the Our Common Ground statement shapes this university. Each of our award recipients exemplifies a strong commitment to our shared values and to the quality and excellence of this university.”

Nominees were introduced by Wanda Heading-Grant, vice president for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and recognized by Staff Council President Catherine Symans and David Rosowsky, provost and senior vice president.

“Each of our awardees recognized this morning, at this inaugural Our Common Ground Staff Awards celebration represents a standard bearer and a standard setter," said Rosowsky. "Each of you has given tirelessly of your time, your efforts, and yourselves to support our individuals and groups in our community, and to make our university a better place for all those who pass through its halls or stroll through its grounds. You do more than abide by the tenets of Our Common Ground – you live them each day.”

The following staff members are the 2014 President’s Our Common Ground Award recipients with comments from the UVM employees who nominated them and presented their awards:

Patrick Brown, director of Student Life, Division of Student Affairs

“Pat Brown is a connector, a believer in people and their potential and a teacher,” said Kate Strotmeyer, assistant director for marketing for the Dudley H. Davis Center and Student Life. “We all benefit from the easy way Pat builds community and the years (32) he has spent doing that at UVM. You have been the greatest teacher I have ever had because you lead by example and continue to do the hard work to make yourself, our office, our division and ultimately this university the best place it can be. You put students first and have shown me that it is this contact with students that energizes our work in Student Life. I think I speak for generations of students and staff in sharing this gratitude today.”

Jeff Bukowski, Staff Council administrator, Staff Council

“This university is a better place because Jeff Bukowski is a part of our community,” said Renee Berteau, Staff Council vice president and business office financial administrator in the College of Arts and Sciences. “He lives and breathes social justice, respect, integrity, fairness and openness for the community of UVM…. Not only does Jeff speak to the qualities of Our Common Ground, but also he lives and models them, especially respect and justice. He teaches by example and encourages others to uphold these values as well. Jeff has assisted hundreds of UVM staff in understanding that not only do they individually have a voice that deserves to be heard, but that collectively all staff voices can contribute to a more successful work and learning environment at UVM.”

Rodman Cory, constituent relations team lead, Division of Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

“Rodman is one of the most dedicated and hard-working people at the University of Vermont,” said Bukowski. “He goes above and beyond every day and sees the importance of making connections and working together for a shared goal or outcome. He builds teams and creates community through his words and actions. Rodman doesn’t just hear what you have to say, he listens and you know you have been heard, understood, validated and most importantly valued for being you. He has immense respect for others. He can mediate the most difficult of conversations with the most dynamic people and end those discussions having worked through whatever challenges were present to build consensus and unity. Rodman is a humble servant leader, a confidant, a mentor and a friend. He is someone you can rely on and you know that he is going to come through no matter what."

Annie Cressey, health educator, Division of Student Affairs

“I have the honor of speaking about an incredible woman that I work with every day,” said Amy Boyd Austin, director of the Collegiate Recovery Community in the Living Well Office. “She is someone who inspires me with her ideas, creativity, passion and endless energy.  She is someone who challenges me to be thoughtful, reflective and to be my most authentic self. She is fun, funny, diligent, dedicated, and honestly, utterly delightful. She absolutely epitomizes the values outlined in Our Common Ground…. Annie has dedicated much of her professional life to promoting mental health – addressing difficult topics such as depression, anxiety, body image, eating disorders and suicide prevention. Her work here comes from a passionate place – one which requires patience, courage, and determination. Her commitment to raising awareness, decreasing stigma, and supporting students has taught hundreds of us to question our deeply ingrained assumptions about students with mental health conditions, as well as to be active advocates for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves."

Leslye Kornegay, director of Custodial Services, Division of University Relations and Administration

“By seeing every problem as an opportunity and engaging an appreciative and organic leadership style in her approach, Dr. Kornegay, by example, challenges others to meet the highest standards of performance,” said Connie Russell, business office coordinator in the Custodial Services Department, who presented along with Peter Blackmer, assistant director in CSD. “Through her visionary leadership and commitment to excellence, diversity and the principles enshrined in Our Common Ground, Dr. Kornegay has succeeded in establishing a model organization that is an example for the entire university and similar institutions internationally. The values of respect, integrity, innovation, openness, justice and responsibility can be found in all aspects of her work. She is a tireless advocate for her team – indeed all employees – across the university community. Leslye develops people to be their best at whatever they aspire to be. She has truly created an organization where synergy is at its best."

William Valliere, research specialist, Park Studies Laboratory, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

“Bill has been instrumental in making the Park Studies Laboratory an important component of the Rubenstein School’s program of research, playing an integral role in dozens of research projects, co-authoring a remarkable 18 papers in the scholarly and professional literature, presenting papers at multiple academic and professional conferences each year, and helping to inform management of our iconic national park system,” said Robert Manning, Steven Rubenstein Professor of Environment and Natural Resources/Director Park Studies Laboratory. “The Park Studies Lab couldn’t have prospered without Bill’s consistent and high level contributions. But in particular, its Bill’s personal qualities and his service that make him so deserving of this award."


Jon Reidel