ASU 2023-24 Staff Excellence Awards


SAN ANGELO, TX - Four Angelo State University staff members - Jeremy Brake, James Spencer, Robert Sport, and Bryan Stephens - have earned the 2023-24 President's Awards for Staff Excellence, and another - Heather Crawford - has received the annual Chancellor's Colonel Rowan Award for Execution.

The honorees were recognized during a recent awards ceremony on campus. 

The President's Awards for Staff Excellence recipients were selected from over 55 nominees, and the Chancellor's Colonel Rowan Award honoree was chosen from seven nominees. 

The four Staff Excellence Awards recipients each received a $1,000 honorarium and a presentation piece, while the Rowan Award winner received a $1,500 honorarium.

Brake, technology services manager for the Information Technology team, received the President's Award for Excellence in Leadership. Known for being a "natural leader" who consistently "ensures the timely delivery of results," Brake spends a significant amount of time supporting the network infrastructure for the entire campus, including the wired network, wireless network, security cameras and new construction projects. He takes pride in his work, and as such, is an excellent role model for less experienced members of his team and IT student workers. He prioritizes developing relationships with both campus stakeholders and vendors while managing a nine-person team and also aiding other IT managers and directors in their daily operations. He also recently oversaw the renovation of the Rassman Data Center, the "mothership" of ASU's technology infrastructure, which included working with multiple stakeholders and vendors on design, migration and implementation of new technology. From his nomination letter, "His tenacity, resourcefulness, and commitment make Jeremy a valuable member of the ASU community Jeremy continues to do a fantastic job and we are fortunate to have him as part of the ASU Ram Family."

Spencer, an environmental health specialist in the Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management, received the President's Award for Commitment to Excellence. As a more "behind the scenes" staff member, his actions often go unnoticed, but his performance directly influences ASU's compliance with a multitude of regulatory guidelines. As the lead for chemical inventory, he annually validates ASU's report on campus chemicals to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). He monthly conducts 72 art room and science lab inspections to verify proper chemical storage, as well as 45 storm drain inspections to ensure compliance with the university's TCEQ stormwater permit. He also oversees the monthly inspections of campus emergency lighting and exit signs, 845 fire extinguishers and 151 fire sprinkler valves - and he initiated 181 service requests to ensure campus emergency readiness and compliance with environmental regulations. He is also the point person for recycling toner cartridges, electronics and batteries, and his efforts led to the recycling of 560 pounds of toner and 1,500 pounds of batteries and ballasts at no cost to ASU. From his nomination letter, "James quietly takes care of business every day to ensure a safe, compliant, and emergency-ready campus. His commitment to excellence is paramount and deserving of recognition."

Sport, associate director of admissions in the Office of Admissions, received the President's Award for Excellence in Customer Service. Unofficially titled the "king of small talk," he exhibits a "high level of customer service" to all the Admissions Office customers, including prospective students and their families, faculty, staff and current students. His primary role is to supervise ASU's recruitment team that travels throughout the state. For many of his nine-person staff, it is their first full-time jobs, and he works hard to help them develop into professionals. His positive attitude, patience and dedication make him an admirable role model for his young team. Always excited for his team's success, he also literally "goes the extra mile," traveling to recruiting events when extra hands are needed, leading campus tours and helping set up for campus events. He has even been known to help change a co-worker's tire in the pouring rain. From his nomination letter, "Developing new employees can be challenging, but Robert approaches it with a positive attitude and is a great example for his young team...I'm fortunate to observe his character, his passion for his job, and his top-notch customer service on a daily basis."

Stephens, a systems architect on the Information Technology team, received the President's Award for Excellence in Innovation. Praised for being "instrumental in refining our IT operations," he has shown the ability to think beyond conventional solutions. His contributions have streamlined operations and enhanced the productivity and efficiency of the entire department. He showcased his technical abilities on the recent NSX project, and he worked with one of the newer IT staffers to streamline the virtual server creation process. Additionally, his approach to research and analysis is both exhaustive and meticulous as he constantly seeks opportunities for improvement of ASU systems and for himself. He also actively seeks out areas that could benefit from enhancement and is "relentless in his pursuit of excellence." His efforts have led to numerous advancements benefiting the campus' server and infrastructure environment. From his nomination letter, "Bryan is the embodiment of the Excellence in Innovation Award. His unwavering commitment to our university, and particularly to the IT team, makes him a worthy nominee. His recent leadership on the NSX project is just one of the many examples of his dedication to innovation."

Crawford, assistant director of admissions-communications in the Office of Admissions, received the Chancellor's Colonel Rowan Award for Execution, which annually recognizes a staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in carrying out a major project during the last academic year. When tasked with managing a new student call center, she created call scripts and call campaigns for her new team. With over 32,000 calls made to prospective students since fall 2022, her team played a key role in the 16.6% growth in new freshman enrollment for the 2023-24 academic year. She also heads a team tasked with sending emails, texts and print mail to prospective students and their families, and she implemented a system using Microsoft Teams to help keep them on track as they distributed over 3.7 million emails over the last year. From her nomination letter, "How we communicate with our prospective students is crucial to our ability to matriculate students to ASU and significantly impacts our enrollment, and therefore, our budget and revenue to the institution. Heather's job is extremely difficult, but she simply executes it every day to the highest possible level of devotion."

In addition to the overall Staff Excellence Awards winners, four semifinalists in each category received a $500 award.

For Excellence in Leadership, the other semifinalists were: Jackie Baxter, Controller's Office; Jessica Gooch, Student Affairs and Title IX Office; Brianna Hodges, Freshman College; and Stephen Schkade, Information Technology.

For Commitment to Excellence, the other semifinalists were: Jody Casares, Physics and Geosciences; Antonio Gallegos Jr., Information Technology; Callie Harrell, Registrar's Office; and Crystal Nelms, Archer College of Health and Human Services.

For Excellence in Customer Service, the other semifinalists were: Melissa Castillo, College of Graduate Studies and Research; Julia "D" Chandler, Information Technology; Amber Feuay, Special Events; and Cody Vasquez, Admissions.

For Excellence in Innovation, the other semifinalists were: Brit Heppler, Communications and Marketing; Cecilia Hernandez, Admissions; Stephanie Solis, David L. Hirschfeld Department of Engineering; and Danielle Spencer, Controller's Office.

Other nominees for Excellence in Leadership were: Jimmy Cockerell, Information Technology; Heather Crawford, Admissions; Amber Feuay, Special Events; Kalynn Mohr, Enrollment Management; Haley Neufeld, Student Accounts; and Danielle Plecenik, Title IX Office.

Other nominees for Commitment to Excellence were: Candace Aguirre, Student Affairs; Benjamin Allen, Mail Services; Josh Baucom, Special Events; Olivia Castro, David L. Hirschfeld Department of Engineering; Lorena Gonzales, Special Events; Haley Hawley, Admissions; Chastity Howard, Special Events; Susannah Klooster, Visual and Performing Arts; Roanna Murray, Freshman College; Haley Neufeld, Student Accounts; Jaquien Palacios, Regional Security Operations Center; Renee Robbins, Biology; James Spencer, Risk Management; and Courtney Wilson, Registrar's Office.

Other nominees for Excellence in Customer Service were: Sonja Burnett, Facilities Management; Phil Cote, OneCard and Parking Services; Amber Feuay, Special Events; Antonio Gallegos Jr., Information Technology; Deanna Gully, Freshman College; Haley Hawley, Admissions; Joey Hereford, Information Technology; Rudy Jaques, Health Science Professions; Haley Neufeld, Student Accounts; Robin Sebolt, Payroll Services; Brittany Smith, Title IX Office; and Alma Valdez, Political Science and Philosophy.

Other nominees for Excellence in Innovation were: Leticia Gonzalez, Freshman College; Joey Hereford, Information Technology; Clay Martin, Information Technology; Chandler Payne, Special Events; and Al Speetzen, Mail Services.

Other nominees for the Chancellor's Colonel Rowan Award were: Amber Feuay, Special Events; Brandy Hawkins, Office of Accountability; Marshell Peter, Information Technology; Vianey Sanchez, Freshman College; Jason Watson, Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Cyber Intelligence, Innovation, and Security Studies; and Courtney Wilson, Registrar's Office.

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