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K-State Today

May 16, 2011



President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals Recipients Named

By Jennifer Gehrt

Three unclassified professional staff members have been recognized for innovation, leadership and success with the 2011 President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals.

This year's recipients are: Robert Atchison, rural forestry section leader for the Kansas Forest Service; Andrea Blair, director of Disability Support services; and Melinda Sinn, public information coordinator for the Division of Continuing Education.

Atchison is recognized for his productivity and innovation. His name is paramount in Kansas forestry. Atchison is highly respected by KSU’s leadership as well as a multitude of state and federal agencies, non-government organizations, and citizens.  His leadership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service State Committee annually secures approximately $100,000 of forestry cost share assistance funds for landowners.  Principle among the cost share projects is riparian forestry.  Riparian forests are central to one of the state’s priority natural resources issues, sedimentation of federal reservoirs.  Atchison, with the support of others, developed the Kansas Forest Service’s Strategic Plan for Federal fiscal years 2011-2015.  An immediate outcome was continued connectivity to the USDA Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry program and fiscal authorization levels of approximately $1.75 million annually.  This Strategic Plan will provide the Kansas Forest Service with clearer direction on what services they can provide and where those services should be concentrated.

Andrea Blair, director of Disability Support Services, is recognized for her leadership.  Her influence can be felt all over campus as she plays an important role in disability awareness.  Andrea is a good leader and she is constantly striving to improve her leadership skills.  Within the Disability Support Services office she encourages everyone to improve not only their specific job skills but their leadership skills as well.  She provides excellent leadership to her department and is a role model for her staff.  Andrea is involved with many organizations serving K-State, which shows her commitment to promoting a better environment at K-State for students, faculty and staff.  She is credited with establishing the LGBT group on campus providing a safe haven for students needing support. Andrea has a tremendous ability to work with students who have disabilities and inspire them to do their best.  Many of the students she works with have been more successful because of her support.  Andrea shares a wealth of knowledge about how students learn and strategies that make a difference in the academic environment.  She provides excellent student service to disabled students and is a wonderful resource for students, faculty, and staff. 

Melinda Sinn, public information coordinator for the Division of Continuing Education, is recognized for her team building and service to the university.  Melinda is described as a team player, willing to do her part for any initiative and take responsibility for her assignments.  She carries major responsibility for working with university units across the campus to develop marketing and promotional campaigns for scores of programs that are delivered through the Division of Continuing Education.  Melinda has effectively organized her unit into a dynamic, cohesive, high productive unit that serves DCE and the university with distinction.  She is always looking for the possibilities.  Her unit completed more than 700 projects in 2010 that included marketing, feature stories, and new releases related to DCE distance and conference offerings. In one year, Melinda and her staff participate in more than 130 education fairs throughout the country. She frugally researches a variety of advertising options and collaborates with colleagues to find the best avenues to extend K-State’s reach.  Her success is demonstrated by the enrollment growth DCE continues to see; an average of over 10% in enrollment and credit hours generated.  Because of her expertise and oversight, DCE received five marketing awards at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association national meeting in April.