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2021-22 Staff Awards Winners

April 25, 2022

  • (L-R) Jayna Phinney, Zachary Deere, Candace Aguirre, ASU President Ronnie Hawkins Jr., Amanda Ritchie, Christabel Romine and Meghan Pena (Staff Senate)

Four Angelo State University staff members – Zachary Deere, Christabel Romine, Candace Aguirre and Amanda Ritchie – have earned the 2021-22 President’s Awards for Staff Excellence, and another – Jayna Phinney – has received the annual Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award for Execution.

The honorees were recognized during an awards ceremony April 25 on campus. The President’s Award for Staff Excellence recipients were selected from over 40 nominees, and the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award honoree was chosen from 11 nominees. The four Staff Excellence Award recipients each received a $1,000 honorarium and a presentation piece, while the Rowan Award winner received a $1,500 honorarium.

Zachary Deere Zachary Deere Zachary Deere, a network administrator in Information Technology, received the President’s Award for Commitment to Excellence. Lauded for his outstanding work on first the Systems Support Team and then the Network Infrastructure Team, Deere is also an excellent role model for the IT student workers, and provides guidance to them by offering real-world experiences of working in a technology support role while emphasizing professionalism and work ethic. Also recognized as being a “team player,” “very resourceful” and “willing to volunteer,” he takes a spearhead approach to any task and has an outstanding way of viewing tasks as opportunities. One particular task involved enabling the closed captioning within WebEx Meetings and the ability to capture the closed captioning when recording those meetings. Deere engaged with the vendor over two months to ensure the project’s success, and also documented the processes for others’ use. He is also known for consistently making himself available to his fellow IT team members and other departments to solve any IT issues that may arise, regardless of the time of day or night. From his nomination letter, “Zach is imperative to the entire IT team. We are fortunate to have Zach as a member of the Ram Family.”

Christabel Romine Christabel Romine Christabel Romine, an academic advisor in the Norris-Vincent College of Business (NVCOB), received the President’s Award for Excellence in Innovation. Known for thinking on her feet and being a servant leader, Romine is “always willing to help” and “has offered a series of innovative solutions” for NVCOB initiatives. She was instrumental in the success of the 2021 NVCOB Commencement Reception that was held in the Rassman Building for the first time. Her event-planning talents made the reception such a success that future receptions will follow the same format. She also developed a web-base form for the NVCOB Values-In-Action (VIA) pilot program, enabling the recording and documentation of VIA data and information. Her form played an integral role in the ongoing and future success of the VIA initiative. From her nomination letter, “I appreciate everything Christabel does for the NVCOB, and she is very deserving of this staff award.”

Candace Aguirre, liaison program coordinator in the Division of Student Affairs, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Customer Service. Hailed for being “100% in” and “bleeding blue and gold,” Aguirre leads a group of faculty and staff that serve as mentors to students in the Fostering Ram Success program, and she “carries an energy that makes people feel like they are home and have a friend in the room.” Since she took on her role with Fostering Ram Success, campus and community support for the program has grown significantly. It is also known among the students that if they need help, a connection to a resource, or just a cheerleader in their corner, Aguirre is one of the people to turn to on campus. She provides excellent frontline service to ASU students formerly in foster care, and has increased and improved the various events, financial support and other resources available to them through Fostering Ram Success. She “always has a smile on her face,” “embodies ASU Core Values in her service to students” and “is a joy to work with.” From her nomination letter, “Candace has a heart of gold, is a team player, and is always willing to go the extra mile to help with anything. She brings so much to ASU, and we are truly lucky to have her.”

Amanda Ritchie Amanda Ritchie Amanda Ritchie, associate director of admissions-campus experience in the Office of Admissions, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. Praised for being “one of the strongest leaders on the ASU campus,” Ritchie demonstrates excellence in her ability to work with prospective students and families, current students, faculty and staff. While organizing all ASU student recruitment events and campus tours, she communicates clearly with faculty and staff across campus to ensure the events run smoothly while also ensuring that families visiting campus feel like they are part of the Ram Family. She also works closely with the RAMbassadors student tour guides so they are ready to impart the ASU message, and she thrives in that environment where she can motivate them to develop, grow and succeed. She has become a go-to person on campus when anyone needs a volunteer, advice on an event, or even help cooking for the Rams baseball team. She leads in a way that is supportive of others, but also sets high standards for herself and her team. From her nomination letter, “Amanda can lead the ASU fight song, lead the campus through hosting 500+ visitors on a Saturday recruitment event, or lead an individual in how to overcome challenges. I’m grateful to serve on the same team with such an influential leader.”

Jayna Phinney Jayna Phinney Jayna Phinney, instructional technology specialist in the College of Science and Engineering, 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 ensuring the academic departments in her college are providing digital content that is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, “she has taken the initiative with both hands, worked efficiently toward the goal, and done so with minimal direct supervision.” She has sought and engaged in best-practice training, examined the college’s digital content in view of relevant accessibility standards, planned and prepared a process to improve accessibility, and over-delivered on the end product. She has also implemented resources and student-worker positions to assist in providing accessible content, and held everyone involved in the project accountable. Because of her work, accessible content is a legacy that will make a difference for generations of ASU students and faculty in her college. From her nomination letter, “I am proud of the way the college has produced more and more-accessible content. I support this, but Jayna has made it happen. Jayna deserves recognition for this important initiative.”

Other nominees for the President’s Award for Commitment to Excellence were: Belinda Saaranen, Department of Computer Science; Britany Hernandez, Freshman College; Brooke Flores, Admissions; Christabel Romine, NVCOB; Hannah Robertson, Enrollment Management; James Spencer, Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management; Jayna Phinney, College of Science and Engineering; Kailee Malleck, Special Events Facilities and Services; Kevin Brooks, Athletics; and Samuel Guevara, Facilities Planning and Construction.

Other nominees for Excellence in Innovation were: Amanda Ritchie, Admissions; Hannah Robertson, Enrollment Management; Melissa Lacy, Porter Henderson Library; Melissa Wood, College of Science and Engineering; Stephanie Solis, Admissions; and Thinh Nguyen, College of Education.

Other nominees for Excellence in Customer Service were: Alicia Ernst, Office of the President; Alma Valdez, Political Science and Philosophy; Alysia Howard, College of Science and Engineering; Angela Howell, Archer College of Health and Human Services; Becky Bray, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Callie Harrell, Registrar’s Office; Cheryl Jordan, College of Education; Christabel Romine, NVCOB; Christian Salamina, Information Technology; Crystal Nelms, Archer College of Health and Human Services; Debra Blair, Mathematics; Jenny Love, Office of Development; Jody Casares, Physics and Geosciences; Luann McCorkle, Human Resources; Robert Sport, Admissions; and Whitni Cary, Ticket Office.

Other nominees for Excellence in Leadership were: Christabel Romine, NVCOB; Daniel Martinez, College of Education; Dave Erickson, Small Business Development Center; Heather Crawford, Admissions; Jessica Albus, Information Technology; and Kerri Mikulik, Admissions.

Other nominees for the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award were: Sydney Muncey, Communication and Mass Media; Yvette Nunez, College of Education; Jenny Love, Office of Development; Margaret Alexander, Porter Henderson Library; Thomas Hayes, Special Events Facilities and Services; Mary Ellen Moreno, Multicultural Center; Tom Nurre Jr., Communications and Marketing; Becky Bray, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Haley Neufeld, Student Accounts; and Victor Chhuor, Information Technology.