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K-State Today

April 7, 2020

2020 President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals winners

Submitted by Human Capital Services

The President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals fosters excellence in the workplace by rewarding and recognizing unclassified professional staff members who achieve excellence and/or make exemplary contributions to the mission and values of K-State.

Five Kansas State University employees have been selected for the 2020 President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals.

Recipients are:

  • Sterling Buist, equine farm manager, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, in the Leadership Award category.
  • Jen Schlegel, business manager, Department of Plant Pathology, in the Team Building, Group Activity, and Service to the University Award category.
  • Kevin Shippy, manager, Information Technology Services, in the Productivity, Creativity and Innovation Award category.
  • Roberta "Robin" Reid, extension associate, Department of Agricultural Economics, in the Distinguished Accomplishment Award category.
  • Mary Ellen Barkley, assistant director of the Career Center, in the Belonging Award category.

Buist has made a significant impact in the Horse Teaching and Research Unit in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. Buist has a very diverse job description and assumes a lot of responsibilities for the animal science department and the university that includes providing or assisting other faculty in educating students, providing services to the equine industry, and leadership to the department. She plays an important role in many service efforts and has numerous connections within the industry. Buist has also developed a strong relationship with the faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine, clinical sciences department. Buist has done an exceptional job at building a rapport with students, faculty and staff, and has significantly enhanced the reputation of the K-State Horse Unit with the general public. 

Schlegel is an essential member of the plant pathology department and one reason why this team maintains its excellence and productivity. As business manager for the department, Schlegel serves as the office manager, chief budget manager and second-tier support for all functions of the office. This includes grant management, supervision, back-up support in human resource management, international student services, payroll and accounts payable. Schlegel has created a cooperative/collaborative workplace that promotes teamwork. She works hard with her staff to establish relationships built on trust. She effectively delegates tasks and promotes professional growth among her team. In Schlegel's five years as the business manager, she has worked with four different department heads/interim heads as the department has gone through various transitions in leadership. Schlegel has been the central piece to keep everything functioning well during all the changes. She has guided new department heads/interim heads on department budgets, personnel and HR processes, infrastructure issues and more. Schlegel is a trusted confidant and is viewed favorably by the college financial staff and dean's office who requested her assistance to help another department sort out challenges when a change in duties occurred. She was immensely helpful, even though it meant she was taken away from some of her duties in the department. Nonetheless, there was no apparent drop in her performance. She puts in the extra effort and hours to get things done, that's just who she is.

Shippy has been at K-State for more than 23 years. He has had increasing levels of responsibility from serving as an audiovisual technician to his current role as manager of the instructional technology team that oversees technology in general use classrooms, conference rooms, university computing labs and some departmental spaces. Shippy has been instrumental in designing, planning for, or renovating the 136 general-use classrooms and for the more than 60 departments where ITS supports their spaces. He also serves as a consultant and project manager for new classroom and conference room builds. Over the years, he has found creative ways to extend the life of hardware, to rethink the hardware used, and to find less expensive alternatives to achieve the same outcome. If a technology is not used by faculty, he recommends saving money by not installing that equipment. He works with vendors to bring demonstrations of new technologies to campus and then invites campus constituents to the event to test out the hardware. He can work with everyone from the vendor to the dean of the college and discuss technical issues in a nontechnical way. He is persistent to bring K-State's learning spaces to the leading edge of technology. 

Reid recently wrote a grant for "Farm Financial Skills for Kansas Women in Agriculture," which was awarded to create a financial skills series and provide materials and textbooks to participants. This has positively advanced the mission of K-State. The program was shared in 32 locations across the state of Kansas for a four-week series reaching nearly 700 participants. This program reached across the state through extension personnel, K-State collaborating colleges, partners and local community resources. Online and locally, hosts were there to share their expertise and present hands-on learning activities. Participants were highly engaged in these extension-related activities. Through this outreach and engagement initiative, partnerships were established with various stakeholders to translate financial skills into applications that address public needs. These service activities are integrally related to the land-grant mission of K-State. This series was one of the most collaborative and widespread Extension efforts seen in many years. The "Farm Financial Skills for Kansas Women in Agriculture" was a unique program that was in demand from farm families. The success of this program was quite the feat by Reid, it had a significant impact on Kansas farmers and ranchers. Her vision, leadership and attention to detail made this a truly useful program with material that will be implemented at the farm level. This successful program will improve the quality of life and standard of living of those we serve.

Barkley works closely with faculty, staff and students to provide the best service possible. Throughout the year, she works with many students in individual appointments in which she discusses with them their objectives and addresses their concerns. Barkley is always willing to seek out additional resources to support the students she works with and educates herself so she can relay knowledge that will continue to propel students forward. Barkley works with the Student Access Center and students with disabilities. She has focused some of her professional development on employment for people with disabilities — understanding how students can advocate for themselves, and when to bring up their accommodation needs. This very special area requires an understanding of HR policies and best practices with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Student Access Center refers students with disabilities to Barkley and she meets with students to understand their goals and questions. She makes herself available for multiple appointments and asks great questions to understand a student's goals. She is very student-centered and puts the person first. In addition, Barkley has been able to find associations and businesses that help employ people with disabilities. She has helped connect students to some incredible resources. Within her unit, she does the same, sharing information and advocating for ways to make services more accessible to all students. Barkley believes in, develops and relates to the K-State students in the many ways she works with the K-State community.

Please join the Division of Human Capital Services in congratulating the 2020 award recipients. All award winners receive $1,000 for their contributions to the K-State community.