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K-State Today

April 4, 2017



University awards unclassified employees with presidential honors

By Communications and Marketing

Four unclassified professionals at Kansas State University are receiving awards for their excellent contributions to the university.

Dawn Caldwell, senior grant specialist for the Agricultural Experiment Station; Spencer Casey, business manager for the Western Kansas Agricultural Research Centers; Lisa Duer, lead grant administrator for the dean's office in the College of Veterinary Medicine; and Brandon Utech, instructional media administrator for the Office of Mediated Education have been selected for the 2017 President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals.

Caldwell was selected for the team building, group activity and service to the university award. She meticulously and precisely scrutinizes each budget and proposal document to ensure the university is conforming to request-for-proposal requirements and university policies. She has saved the college many times from what would have been terminal errors or oversights in this regard. She operates with extreme efficiently and time management, always meeting submission deadlines despite last-minute delivery of necessary documents by departments well after internal deadlines. Caldwell is an instrumental part of the externally funded projects that come into K-State each year.

Casey was selected for the productivity, creativity and innovation award. He is constantly developing ideas that improve the university's research centers. Casey excels at meeting nontraditional challenges that do not have standard solutions. He is highly skilled at computer network development. He has written several online software applications and databases for the Western Kansas Agricultural Research Centers. Casey's efforts benefit western Kansas research and extension faculty and administrative staff by making account transactions and balances accessible online, easing the process of updating and tracking capital and noncapital inventory, simplifying the record-keeping requirements for acquiring and tracking federal surplus property, and making report-filing processes much more efficient.

Duer was selected for the leadership award. She is very understanding, accommodative and flexible with the needs of faculty, staff and students. She always goes the extra mile to meet and surpass faculty's expectations with their grant proposals. Duer's leadership in the grants administration office is exceptional, and she approaches her role with a high degree of professionalism and sincerity. She has a unique insight on when certain agreements with industry require an elevated sense of urgency to be completed. Duer actively practices effective leadership strategies to provide support within the college for the pursuit of external funding. Under her leadership and encouragement, all the college's grant specialists have earned certified research administrator certificates, which is a rare distinction among grant specialists.  

Utech was selected for the distinguished accomplishment award. He successfully coordinated K-State's transition from using a small, limited video capture and streaming solution to using Mediasite, a commercial software for enterprise video management. This change allowed K-State to dramatically improve video streaming quality and service for students, researchers, faculty and staff and for people around the world who view K-State's videos. This project involved coordination with Information Technology Services staff, campus video teams, and instructors who use videos for courses and research. Utech was successful in driving this complex project to completion on a tight timeline — less than one year — in a budget situation that required his department to reduce costs while improving services.

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