Newly established Gary Kelly Staff Excellence Award will recognize outstanding physics staff members

Jamie Hendrickson for Illinois Physics

The Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has established the Gary Kelly Staff Excellence Award to recognize staff members who demonstrate exceptional job performance and dedication in support of departmental goals. The annual award will be presented for the first time at the 2019 Fall Physics Reception to up to two outstanding staff members; the award comprises a commemorative plaque and $2,000 for each recipient. The Gary Kelly Staff Excellence Award is funded by a generous estate gift from Illinois Physics alumnus Gary Kelly (MS, 1974).  

Illinois Physics Assistant Head for Administration Jennifer Jorstad comments, “This award was created to recognize the hard work that the civil service and academic professional staff contribute to the mission of the department. Many of our staff go above and beyond their regular job responsibilities in order to serve the department. Those strong performers deserve to be recognized.” 

Nominations are now being accepted for the inaugural award; the deadline for nomination submissions is 5 p.m. on October 1, 2019. Departmental faculty or staff members may nominate any full-time or part-time non-faculty Department of Physics employee who will have served in their current role for a minimum of two years by the nomination deadline. Recent retirees who were employed during the 2018/19 academic year are also eligible to be nominated.

A complete nomination packet will include an online nomination form and an uploaded statement of nomination addressing three of five possible nomination criteria. The statement is an opportunity for the nominator to detail the nominee’s outstanding qualities and job performance. For more information about the specific nominating criteria and required nomination packet, please reach out to Jennifer Jorstad.

Jorstad notes that a great applicant would demonstrate accountability, reliability, and a strong work ethic: ”We are seeking nominations of staff members who go the extra mile to accomplish tasks, are proactive in solving problems, and consistently help out wherever and whenever they are needed.” 

The department’s lead administrative staff—it’s head, associate heads, and director of external affairs—comprise the staff award selection committee. Selected winners will be notified prior to the Fall Physics Reception, so that they may plan to attend the award presentation ceremony.

Jorstad concludes, “Our staff are the people working behind the scenes to make sure everything goes according to plan. Our staff does so much! I believe all our staff, regardless of which administrative role they’re performing, truly want to further the mission of the department.” 

Along with the creation of this annual staff award, Illinois Physics alumnus Gary Kelly’s generous estate gift is also supporting the research of exceptional early-career women physics faculty, with the aim of attracting promising women physicists to the department and increasing the representation of women in physics within the student and postdoctoral bodies and on the faculty.



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