LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas recognized its Employees of the Year and presented the 2015-2016 Team Award on May 4 in the Kansas Union. Chancellor Bernadette Gray Little and Sara Rosen, interim provost and executive vice chancellor, were present at the ceremony to honor employees with five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years of service.
The winners are as follows:
Staff Employee of the Year
Ralph McKinzie began more than 10 years ago at the Edwards campus. In that time the Edwards Campus has seen a lot of change and a lot of growth. Not only growth in student population but physical growth in terms of new buildings and landscaping. McKinzie performs a broad range of tasks. He maintains the appearance of the buildings and the grounds, general cleaning, minor repairs and more. And with a campus that continues to grow, it’s no wonder he is walking with a purpose.
McKinzie always demonstrates willingness to do whatever it takes to keep the campus beautiful and ready for events and students. He has been known to shimmy up on the roof to fix a leak, or get down on his hands and knees to scrub the carpet. Despite the task he is doing, it is done with good humor and a contagious positive attitude.
Those who nominated the employee and work with him on a daily basis all had the same thing to say: “There is no one who works harder.” He is always identifying and solving problems before they even become problems. The events manager for the campus said it best: “It reminds me, as crazy as my week was, my week could have been a lot crazier if this employee weren’t there to take care of all the things I didn’t know needed to be done.”
While the Edwards campus has expressed their desire for 10 more of an employee like Ralph McKinzie. While they can’t have 10, they are grateful for this employee’s hard work every day.
Staff Employee of the Year Winner
Our second Employee of the Year is someone who personifies dedication. They are sincerely interested in presenting their department and the university in the most positive way possible, and does so constantly through their efforts. This employee is the type of person whose presence makes the people around them better at what they do by inspiring confidence, pride in performance and collegiality.
Bruce Johanning started working at KU in 1989. In the 25 years that Johanning has worked for the university, the KU Field Station has grown tremendously in terms of land holdings, research facilities, researchers, and public and educational use of the facility.
It is hard to imagine a person who has greater diversity in their job and this employee, has continually risen to the challenge. Faculty members, researchers and students attribute their successes to Johanning and the assistance and support he provides, specifically the hands on work he is willing to do to support the efforts of the Field Station and the research done there.
Johanning is flexible, easily changing hats from land manager (for example, burning multiple plots managed by the KU Field Station in different counties), experimental designer (devising ways to get deer out of experimental plots), mechanic (maintaining and repairing skid loaders, Gators, vehicles, tractors and more), providing consultation for major construction projects and helping more than 50 faculty/staff members and students implement their research projects or facilitate use of the field station.
Importantly, he does all of this all while exhibiting great kindness to his co-workers. He is described to have bottomless patience and he extends his help with great enthusiasm, dedication and a genuine desire to be helpful.
Johanning is the kind of person who when burning a field, stays out very late on a Friday checking the fire and is back first thing Saturday morning to make sure all is under control. When suddenly new trees, gardens and picnic tables appear, faculty know this employee is working to make the station more functional and conducive to learning and visiting. When a research group is caught in an unexpected thunderstorm, he’s the one to come to the rescue.
Bruce Johanning has proven himself to be truly indispensable to the successful operation of the KU Field Station.
2015-2016 Team Award
This past November McCollum Hall, the largest residence hall on KU’s campus, was imploded, and many watched from a distance as all three wings and 10 floors of the building came crashing down. While we are all likely familiar with the implosion that took place, what you may not be familiar with is the team of people who prepared for this event.
In preparation, the team had to give special consideration to weather, student activity, parking, public safety, traffic and holidays. Parking and Transit and the Public Safety Office ensured road closings were posted, setting up barricades and coordinating with the city of Lawrence and the state of Kansas.
The team additionally met with the Lawrence Fire Department and the Lawrence Police Department to discuss safety both for the building and for students, faculty and staff.
Coordination also occurred with various utility companies as well as KU Information Technology to minimize any disruptions to the rest of campus.
Housing coordinated with nonprofit agencies to remove the furniture before demolition even began. They also communicated to the public notifying campus and the community of the date the implosion would occur, and making sure students in nearby residence halls knew when they had to evacuate.
Environmental Health and Safety took over the facility for abatement and stayed involved throughout to make sure any hazardous material was contained before, during and after demolition.
Design and Construction Management coordinated all the meetings, phone calls, site visits and emails. Open communication was maintained, and site visits were held regularly to maintain clear communication. The team worked well together and collaborated with all the outside entities that had to be involved.
McCollum Hall had been occupied for 50 years and housed more than 35,000 Jayhawks. While it was bittersweet to see the building come down, the preparation and planning that went into the demolition by this team made sure it was a safe and monumental event to appropriately commemorate the building’s memory.
The members of the team were Laura Gagliano, Ralph Oliver, Mark Witt, Chuck Ferguson, Kirk Larson, Seth Martin, Ryan Thompson, Jen Phillips, Jon Rossillon, Sam Pepple, Doug Carter, Jim Hartzell, Robin Harris, Grant Spainhower, Rick Beattie, Katharine Weickert, Donna Hultine and Dave Moore.