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March 29, 2010

Staff Saluted for Outstanding Service

Meet the winners

The recipients of this year’s staff awards are being honored for a long list of contributions to the University, including dedication, talent, and enthusiasm.

The Witmer Award for Distinguished Service is given to staff members whose careers have been characterized by outstanding and sustained contributions to the University.

The Meliora Award recognizes staff members whose work performance and dedication during the preceding year exemplify the University’s motto, Meliora (“Ever Better”). This is the third year both awards have been presented.

Also chosen this year were two Staff Community Service Award recipients. Established by President Joel Seligman in December 2007, the award honors a University nonmanagement staff member “whose commitment best exemplifies service to the University and the Greater Rochester community.”

For more information on all the awards, including how the recipients are chosen and what benefits are attached to those honors, visit the Office of Human Resources Web site, President Seligman and Robert Witmer, Jr., chairman emeritus, Board of Trustees, will present the awards at a reception in honor of the recipients on April 15.

Meliora Award

Melissa MeadMelissa Mead
Melissa Mead, digital and visual resources librarian in Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation of Rush Rhees Library, has been a key contributor to many successful projects during her 16 years with the University.

Letters supporting Mead’s nomination cite her “unparalleled expertise, scholarly learning, creative intelligence, and generosity of time.” She is also praised for her dedication, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail. Those characteristics have proved to be crucial to the success of initiatives in which she’s involved, including the creation of Rare Books and Special Collections projects such as the Frederick Douglass Project, Lincoln and His Circle, and the Rochester Black Freedom Struggle Online project.

In addition to faculty and student classroom and research support, she provides assistance to offsite scholars and researchers in search of primary sources and rare printed materials. She supplies the Office of Communications, the Office of Development, and the Office of the President with hundreds of digital images every year selected from the special collections and University archives.

Also, she contributes images for Rochester Review, the University’s homepage, and for special reunion and service celebrations. Last year she worked with her colleagues from Rare Books and Special Collections and Mark Zaid ’89 to create the book Wish You Were Here: A Century of Postcards from the University of Rochester.

Mead says she’s proud to receive the award. “I learn something new about the special collections every day, because everyone needs something different. The more I know about what someone needs, the better I can help them, and I particularly enjoy being challenged to find just the right image,” she says. “It is a great satisfaction that my knowledge of the Rare Books and Special Collections materials helps those at the University and elsewhere to do their work better.”

Meliora Award

Futurity team

The Futurity Team
Members of a team from University Communications share a 2010 Meliora Award for their work on, an online magazine created in response to shrinking research coverage in the news media and that showcases work from leading research universities. The team consists of Jackie Devino, Katie George, Mike Jones (University IT), Melissa Lang, Mike Osadciw, Lori Packer and Futurity editor Jenny Leonard.

Since launching in September, Futurity ( has attracted more than 400,000 visitors to stories covering topics in health, culture, the environment, science, engineering, and technology.The site features the latest discoveries from more than 50 leading research universities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The University of Rochester, Duke University, and Stanford University co-lead the project.

Futurity continues to grow and evolve, adding universities from the Russell Group in the United Kingdom last month. In addition,, one of the Web’s top news aggregators, recently started featuring Futurity’s content, driving even more readers to the site. A new iPhone app was also released this month.The University’s Futurity team has designed and edited the site since its inception a year ago.

“The Futurity project has drawn attention from journalists, the general public, and our colleagues in higher education, who have repeatedly praised the high quality of the team’s work,” says Bill Murphy, vice president for communications.  “I’m delighted that the University is recognizing it, too.”

Witmer Award

Rose Marie FerreriRose Marie Ferreri
Letters supporting Rose Marie Ferreri’s nomination for the Witmer Award highlight her leadership, dedication, high ethical standards, and the “grace and competence” she brings to her work.

In her 22 years with the University, Ferreri has been a trusted resource to her department and her colleagues. She says she’s honored to receive the award.

As department manager in the Department of Anthropology, Ferreri is credited with saving the department “significant” amounts of money over the years and managing a flat budget, despite increased demands.

She provides support for faculty research and grant management, and serves as a resource to fellow department administrators. She fields requests for information from students and facilitates the activities of the Undergraduate Anthropology Council and also has assisted in national faculty searches and helped with orientation for new faculty.

In addition, Ferreri has been a United Way leader/volunteer, a member of the River Campus Administrators Group and Steering Committee, and she is CLASP-certified (Continuous Learning for Administrators of Sponsored Programs).

Witmer Award

Debra HaringDebra Haring
Debra Haring doesn’t back down from a challenge. In fact, she is the “go-to person for any challenging task,” according to her nomination letters for the Witmer Award.

Among the challenges she faced as development administrator for the Department of Chemistry during the past nine years: overseeing the redesign of the chemistry Web site implemented by student assistant John Bertola ’09. A joint effort of several stakeholders in chemistry, the site includes 150 unique pages and has received hundreds of thousands of hits from more than 150 countries since its overhaul.

Colleagues in the Department of Chemistry, where she served until last January, say Debra is a “consummate professional” who is creative, dedicated, and respected for her contributions to the department. She provided extensive pre-proposal support for faculty grants to federal, state, and foundational agencies. She coordinated numerous award nominations for faculty and students in the department, which resulted in bringing greater visibility to the Department of Chemistry’s noteworthy achievements. Over the years, she facilitated many special events for alumni, parents, faculty, and staff. She also was instrumental in raising more than $2 million in donations and pledges for direct support of chemistry programs.

In addition, she oversaw several publications, including the alumni newsletter, which also serves as the chemistry department’s annual report.

Haring says she’s grateful to receive the Witmer Award. “It has truly been a pleasure and a privilege to have worked with the gifted faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Chemistry, and I cherish their esteem,” she says. “I hope that I will be able to continue to do some good for all of the departments in the School of Arts and Sciences in my new role.” Haring assumed a new role as assistant dean for grants and contracts on Feb. 1.

Witmer Award

Ann McMicanAnn McMican
Ann McMican, associate director for administration at University Health Service, shows an “unusual dedication to the University’s mission and values,” her colleagues say.
Nomination letters of support praise her “outstanding and ongoing excellence” and her “creative and effective leadership” skills.

Throughout her 29 years with the University, McMican is credited with a long list of accomplishments, including oversight of the creation of the River Campus UHS facility and, as chief supervisor of the Blood Bank, the development of the autologous blood donation program and bone marrow processing program at Strong Memorial Hospital. She also led the process to create the Strong Memorial Hospital Quality Council, a model in use for the past 15 years, and she manages the University’s student health insurance plan.

“One of the best things about working for the University is the wide diversity of opportunity and myriad ways that one’s work can make a difference,” McMican says. 

“Over almost 30 years I’ve been privileged to be able to have an impact on direct patient care, hospital quality, and student health on all campuses.”

Staff Community Service Award

Melissa Sydor-KauffmanMelissa Sydor-Kauffman
Melissa Sydor-Kauffman, a social worker in the adult ambulatory clinic at Strong Behavioral Health who provides outpatient mental health therapy, started volunteering with the House of Mercy in 1998 as an undergraduate at SUNY Brockport. Since then, Sydor-Kauffman has volunteered countless hours in a variety of roles with the House of Mercy: advocate, counselor, fundraiser, communications coordinator, and internship supervisor among them. She also has been responsible for “bringing dozens of new volunteers to the House of Mercy—essential to the survival of the organization’s programs.”

The House of Mercy prides itself on being a “beacon of hope” for Rochester’s poor. Working with a limited budget, the organization provides the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter along with advocacy and spiritual services for the poorest of the poor. This year marks the program’s 25th anniversary.

For Sydor-Kauffman, “it’s about economic human rights for all and doing the work to help the struggle.”
A letter on behalf of Sister Grace Miller, Charles Earlsey, and Rita Lewis from the House of Mercy supporting Sydor-Kauffman’s nomination reads: “Melissa has a remarkable concern for poor people. She is able to work with them and earn their trust and friendship without ever displaying a patronizing attitude. She treats poor people on equal terms, and they love her for it. She has been a gift to the House of Mercy.”

Staff Community Service Award

Joanne Wales-SmithJoanne Wales-Smith
Joanne Wales-Smith has been escorting busloads of kids from New York City to Rochester each summer for 40 years as part of the Fresh Air Fund, a program that connects inner-city children with host families in Upstate New York so they can enjoy a few weeks of summer vacation away from the city. She says the wonder of the kids as they travel through rural towns in Pennsylvania and New York never ceases to amaze her.

“It’s overwhelming to see their excitement,” says Wales-Smith, manager of the Friends of Strong Specialty Shop at Strong Memorial Hospital, recalling the campers’ wide-eyed wonder as they pass through the Pocono Mountains. “Through the eyes of the children, the Poconos feels like a jungle,” Wales-Smith says.

Wales-Smith has helped develop a community of volunteers in Rochester to keep the program going strong. She also mentors other Fresh Air Fund volunteers and helps recruit new host families.
Former Fresh Air kid Priscilla Friend, a communications center representative at the Medical Center, says Wales-Smith is “an exemplary human being that gives herself unconditionally.”

“Joanne helped me become a volunteer of the Fresh Air Fund, myself—talk about full circle!” Friend wrote in a letter supporting Wales-Smith’s nomination. “Giving back is the greatest gift ever. Thanks, Joanne.”

Wales-Smith continues to find new ways to support the organization. She recently forged a relationship with a local Elks Lodge to bring together community members and provide a summer picnic for Fresh Air Fund families.

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