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K-State Today

April 19, 2023

President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals winners announced

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 make exemplary contributions to the mission and values of K-State.

Five Kansas State University employees have been selected for the 2023 President's Award of Excellence for Unclassified Professionals.

Recipients are:

  • Joe Horan, graduate admissions coordinator, Graduate School, in the Leadership Award category.
  • Amy Brusk, lead grant specialist, Office of the Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, in the Team Building, Group Activity, and Service to the University Award category. 
  • Jim Hodgson, senior scientific glassblower, chemistry department, in the Productivity, Creativity and Innovation Award category.
  • Sue Metzger, associate director, College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension, in the Distinguished Accomplishment Award category.
  • Scott Schlender, academic service coordinator, Graduate School, in the Belonging Award category.

Horan is the exemplification of an effective and excellent leader. As the team leader for the graduate admissions unit in the Graduate School, Horan quietly oversees an area that is the first point of contact with thousands of potential graduate students. He manages two admission coordinators and ensures the well-functioning of the graduate admission process for more than 165 graduate programs, the establishment and maintenance of collaborations with 60-70 graduate program coordinators, with the staff assisting the graduate admission process, with tens and hundreds of faculty forming a graduate admission committee for the 4,000 processed applications each year. Horan is a master at training, connecting, building, rebuilding and continuously maintaining the relationships between the Graduate School, the graduate committees and the graduate programs. He is indeed the type of leader who, through tact, patience and calmness, encourages the thousands of people involved in the admission process to achieve their best. Horan's work in the Graduate School and across the university is instrumental in building strong and knowledgeable teams that positively impact graduate enrollment and contribute to a strong graduate education culture.

Brusk does an outstanding job of leading the college's grant administration team. She creates a professional, effective and efficient working environment for all, yet encourages a friendly relationship with faculty members, graduate students and research assistants, fostering a naturally welcoming and collaborative setting. This is not an easy task for this office, where precision, accuracy, hard deadlines and tough critiques are the norm. However, by her example and using her skills, discretion and judgment, Brusk is able to achieve this environment, leaving college researchers always knowing that they will get all of their questions answered and grant proposals submitted on time by Brusk and her team. Brusk is also a mentor to many research administrators at K-State by encouraging continued professional and personal growth. She received her Certified Research Administrators certification by the Research Administrators Certification Council. Brusk is an exceptional academic citizen, generously dedicating time and service to support the university and college. She has presented at K-State's grant writing workshops, is a member of the K-State Research Administration Council and has been involved in the UNITE project. Brusk exemplifies team building, group activity and service to the college and university. She consistently provides expert advice and support to her team in a kind, helpful, patient and well-informed manner. 

Hodgson is a brilliant member of the unclassified staff who truly embodies the K-State Principles of Community and is a full and active participant, and indeed a leader, in a broad range of activities at the university. Through his work, he has consistently demonstrated exceptionally high levels of productivity, creativity and innovation. While his primary assignment is in support of the chemistry department, he graciously provides assistance to the broader research community by lending his skills to other labs at K-State, to those across the state of Kansas, and to many labs around the U.S. He recently helped repair and build a large quantity of glassware used in two teaching labs at the University of Kansas, leading to a tremendous cost savings over what they would have spent buying new glassware. In addition, for several years Hodgson has been producing "mosquito feeders" for researchers in the Division of Biology, for those at the Biosecurity Research Institute, and for others outside K-State in the USDA laboratories and at the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. Hodgson is highly creative, as is demonstrated through the glassblowing shows he provides at every K-State Open House event and through the projects he has his students complete in a course he teaches every spring semester. Hodgson's extraordinary service to his profession, broadly conceived, has brought honor to K-State and raised the institution's profile in scientific glassware fabrication to the national stage. He is a world-class talent, gifted collaborator and an asset to K-State.

Metzger served as the College of Agriculture's point person in developing initial design and programmatic considerations for the university's submission for the Challenge Grant program provided by the governor and Kansas Legislature. The Challenge Grant was an ambitious endeavor to raise $75 million in philanthropic funds to be matched with $25 million in state funding under an extremely short timeframe. At the time this opportunity became known, K-State had only 5.5 months to achieve the matching requirement. As part of a three-person team, Metzger coordinated and led these efforts for the College of Agriculture. In the midst of the other demands on her time, Metzger became thoroughly familiar with requirements set forth on the Department of Commerce website. With that information and armed with her front-line knowledge of our projects, she skillfully drafted the university's challenge grant application to the Department of Commerce. Even though the Department of Commerce extended the deadline to accommodate the requests of other KBOR institutions, on Dec. 7, 2022, following the direction set by President Linton, K-State's grant application was submitted. Remarkably, at the time of submission, we reported $81,454 million had been raised — about $6 million beyond the target. On Feb. 7, President Linton called and shared that we had been awarded the entire $25 million from Kansas Department of Commerce. What a remarkable journey and accomplishment with Metzger skillfully, humbly and unpretentiously serving in an indispensable leadership role. The success of this project will have an impact on the future instructional, research, and engagement outcomes for the college, and university overall, for decades to come. The basis for this success is a direct result of the Metzger's excellent work in leading this effort.

As the Academic Services Coordinator, Schlender serves graduate students, faculty, graduate program directors, department chairs and deans. Each person is important, and each situation is met with exceptional knowledge, compassion and understanding. Schlender's service orientation does not depend on where one sits in the organizational structure. He provides the same high-level attention to anyone that is referred to him. Students can expect to be treated with the same professionalism as a dean. This makes the Graduate School accessible to those who need services the most — the students. In addition to Schlender's excellent customer service, he takes time to educate people who come to him with questions about policy, procedure or processes. He is collaborative when ideas are brought to him about ways to streamline a process. He was instrumental in the design of electronic forms in allowing for program advisors to be included in the review process — as the first line of review, no less — for submissions by students that affect graduation, commencement participation and program of study documents that need approval. This has allowed for corrections to be made early in the process which saves time for the student, the program and the Graduate School. Schlender is one of the unsung heroes who makes people want to be at K-State pursuing graduate studies because they know that K-State cares about them. Schlender has made excellent contributions to creating a strong feeling of belonging to the K-State Family.

Please join Human Capital Services in congratulating the 2023 award recipients. All award winners receive $1,000 for their contributions to the K-State community.

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