Congratulations to the 2015 Staff Make Students Count Awardees

Statewide’s Joseph Altman, Coordinator/Interim Executive Officer of System Governance, is one of four winners of the 2015 University of Alaska Staff Make Students Count Award. Other recipients were; Lydia Anderson, director of the Wood Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Margie Thomson, coordinator of Health, Counseling and Disability Services and Safe Zone Coordinator at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau; and Sheila Randazzo, transition advisor with Native Student Services at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble presented the awards during the June 4 Board of Regents meeting in Fairbanks. This year's award winners received a plaque, $1,000 and two airline vouchers.

Joseph Altman, UA Statewide

As part of his duties in the System Governance Office, Altman oversees all of the travel, catering, and meeting coordination for students involved in system governance. For the last two years, Altman has led the Coalition of Student Leaders to Juneau to meet with state legislators. In the letters of nomination, it was noted that his steady nature allows him to handle unexpected situations with aplomb and his mature attitude sets a good example for Coalition members. Altman represents not just students but also the university with an unassumingly professional and can-do attitude that is both contagious and uplifting. Because of his efforts students have an education opportunity outside their classrooms in seeing how the legislature works. From a student: “Joseph has been instrumental in assisting the Coalition of Student Leaders in having our voice heard.”

Lydia Anderson, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Anderson is the retiring director of Wood Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  She has worked at UAF since 1976. Anderson is a passionate supporter and advocate for students. She makes a point to know each of the roughly 60 student workers at Wood Center and personally implemented a Wood Center Student Employee of the Month award. Her work coordinating the Student Awards Breakfast each year, and her authorization of Wood Center staff hours for organizing and actualizing this honored and honoring tradition, is an example of how Anderson steps up to do what needs to be done to celebrate students and their achievement. In the letters of nomination it was noted that Anderson demonstrates how to balance professional standards-based accountability with caring, student-centered support for student learning and development. In addition Anderson is “the person” to go to for any and all raffles on campus. As one peer noted “In my years here at UAF, I have seen these connections develop into powerful networks of scaffolding and support for students—some tell me that their connection with Lydia is what pulled them through hard times at UAF, that Lydia helped them to survive and thrive.”

Margie Thomson, University of Alaska Southeast

Thomson has been with UAS for six of ten years within the UA system. She has dedicated these years to supporting students in a safe environment where they can share thoughts and feelings, discuss personal or academic concerns, create positive solutions to often complicated issues, and gain a sense of personal awareness and understanding. Her student audience knows no boundaries including students with anxiety, stress, and depression; eating and body image disorders; drug and alcohol abuse; domestic violence and sexual/relationship abuse; family crisis; Veteran transitions; LGBTQ issues; disabilities and health concerns; and more. Despite a busy schedule, she maintains the flexibility necessary to support students with immediate mental health concerns. Some of her special projects on campus include: advocating for accessible parking, presenting SAFE Zone training, participating in Mental Health Trust First and Gatekeeper (Suicide Prevention) training, and helped create support groups for different students in need. As noted in the nomination letters Thomson is always the cheerleader that encourages the student to not give up and to keep going.

Sheila Randazzo, University of Alaska Anchorage

Since 2011, Randazzo has helped provide quality support services to Native and rural students that promote scholastic achievement, student retention and personal success. Randazzo approaches students with respect, acceptance and care. She is truly an advocate to students and works tirelessly to see that their educational, social and cultural needs are met while attending campus. She implemented an indigenous values discussion program that brings students, staff and faculty together to discuss traditional values and how they impact us in our world today. She also developed and planned the “Alaska Native and Rural Scholarship and Internship Fair” which brings Alaska Native corporations and tribal funding agencies to help Alaska Native and rural students apply for scholarships and internships. Also noted in the nomination, her efforts have helped the university understand Native and rural students and how to respond to their needs in a caring and culturally sensitive manner. With a non-judgmental attitude and with great empathy, she empowers students with the strength and confidence to overcome difficulties they may face while at UAA.

Staff Make Students Count Awards

The Staff Make Students Count Awards were established in the spring of 1999 to recognize university staff who have provided outstanding service to students, anywhere in the UA system, including rural campuses and extended sites. Service to students may include service as part of the job or volunteer service, either directly to students or behind the scenes. Four awards are available, one for each university (UAA, UAF, UAS) and Statewide. What makes this award particularly special is that peer nominations and award selection committees determine recipients. The award is funded by the UA Foundation.

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