As I reflect on the start of 2020 and look back at the first half of this academic year, I am struck by the numerous changes that have taken place. From the implosion of Tower 3 this past summer, to Chancellor Emeritus Zeppos stepping down in August, to our recently announced sustainability commitments, to Daniel Diermeier being named the ninth Chancellor of Vanderbilt and more. Despite the continual current of change, a constant also sticks in my mind –the devotion and dedication of our staff.
Our division and the many talented staff that comprise it are focused on serving others. Whether it be teachers in the Acorn School, staff who serve our students daily at our campus dining options, public safety officers protecting our entire Vanderbilt community, contract and grant accounting staff assisting our talented faculty, our people and business services team engaging with our employees or our facilities team maintaining our grounds and campus infrastructure, each one of you play an integral role in enhancing the work of this university. Your continued passion and creativity drive Vanderbilt forward. I am humbled to serve as Vice Chancellor for our division, with such talented individuals and groups who are driven to serve and continue to make Vanderbilt a better place.
The university recently held the annual service awards ceremony at the institutional level to honor staff celebrating years of service. With this top of mind, I wanted to take an opportunity in this newsletter to highlight staff who are making a difference in our division. This is by no means an all-encompassing list, and I want to emphasize that each and every one of you play an important role. However, I thought this was a unique opportunity to share how various staff are contributing to our collective success.
I would like to also encourage each of you to keep an eye out for the various events hosted by our employee appreciation team. The team works year long to plan and implement various appreciation programs and events. Our divisional website, and particularly the awards link that lists some of the various awards that staff in our division have received–whether the prestigious Commodore Award, the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Awards, Divisional Awards or other honors, is also a great resource. We really do have an extraordinary team.
Once again, thank you for all that you do for Vanderbilt. We owe much of our success to the individual and group contributions of our incredibly talented staff.
Eric Kopstain Vice Chancellor for Administration
Ten staff making a difference in the Division of Administration
Every year the divisional leadership team honors Service Champions, individual staff members who are celebrated for their excellence in service, dedication to community values and exceptional performance. Ten individuals were recently honored as 2019 Service Champions and their contributions are highlighted below.
Laura Amari, Manager Operational Effectiveness, Campus Dining
Laura is one of the key systems administrators of the Campus Dining menu management system, which touches all parts of the food cycle including forecasting, purchasing, receiving, invoicing, menu building, recipe vetting, inventory and customer facing menus. She is a team player, reaching out to a variety of stakeholders as she works through the various food management processes in order to bring all of these important elements together. Laura is always willing to take on a challenge, and her understanding of the business coupled with her talent in systems, is critical to the success of the Campus Dining team. She is a leader in the division, but is also a leader outside of VU. Laura is a volunteer firefighter and takes great pride in working in the community. She exemplifies many values of our division and university.
Rashonda Escoffery, Lead Teacher, Acorn School
Rashonda is an exemplary early childhood educator at the Acorn School at Vanderbilt. Her teaching is described as “joy-filled” and reflects creativity, innovation, and inclusiveness. Her contributions are evident in the care and attention she provides not only to the children she cares for, but the parents and families that she works so closely with every day. Rashonda supports the success of her teammates and is deeply conscientious in her duties and conversations. In addition to her exceptional teaching abilities, Rashonda also created a 12-week summer fitness program in collaboration with staff in the Vanderbilt Child and Family Centers across three school locations, leading wellness activities such as yoga, cardio and meditation. Her efforts with the fitness program were all volunteer efforts and took place during her lunch hour. Overall, Rashonda goes above and beyond to create a community of inclusiveness and support.
Amy Grubb, Assistant Director, Benefits
Amy consistently exceeds expectations. In the category of service and dedication to others, she is a role model to those on her team and all of those with whom she connects and serves. In her role, Amy is called to deal with a variety of situations that impact employees, some of which can be items that involve some type of issue that impact an individual’s retirement contribution or health benefit. In these situations, Amy handles them with grace and understanding–understanding that the employee may be frustrated (for good reason) and works to correct the situation, always keeping the employee in the loop. She sets a tone for excellence in service and consistently exceeds the expectations of her supervisor and others on the benefits team. She takes pride in “digging into problems” and resolves issues with humility and accountability. In addition, Amy is always looking to improve and commits, beyond those expected, to ensuring excellence of the benefits team. Amy exemplifies our divisional value of excellence in service.
Jennifer Rauch, Program Manager, Employee Immigration Services
In her role, Jennifer works every day to ensure bright and talented individuals from around the world can work at Vanderbilt. She processes H1-B visa petitions for faculty and staff, and handles the appointment of foreign nationals often having to work with three US government agencies. While her role certainly requires expertise, Jennifer goes above and beyond in her engagement and commitment to employees. One example includes a situation where Jennifer worked closely and urgently with a professor to ensure a family member would qualify for an emergency medical visa. This required Jennifer to work with multiple offices on and off campus, including a government official on standby, so the family member could travel to Nashville for an emergency surgery at VUMC. Jennifer has a true impact on the university’s global mission.
Jodi Roheiler, Senior Cook, Campus Dining
Jodi, with much autonomy, executes the morning food service operations at McTyeire International House. She has a high passion for quality food and service. Jodi fosters relationships with the McTyeire population that comprises about 100 students and a number of faculty visitors. She is the first face that many McTyeire students see every morning at breakfast service and she doesn’t disappoint with her big smile and caring attitude. Jodi takes her own personal time and always decorates for the holidays and loves doing special things for the students without being asked. She treats the McTyeire family like her personal family. The program director at McTyeire described Jodi as a pillar of the McTyeire experience and noted that her dedication to the students and the program does not go unnoticed by the community.
Johnny Woods, Senior Cook, Campus Dining
Johnny makes dinner every night at McTyeire International House, playing to all the international programming and cuisines with regular meals featuring a variety of countries as well as special cultural celebrations with faculty guests throughout the year. Johnny takes full responsibility of the kitchen: cooking, prepping, cleaning, ordering and planning of events. Johnny has maintained a 100 percent health score from the Metro Davidson Heath Department. Johnny is award-winning in his line of work. He travelled to UMass Amherst’s Culinary School and received a Bronze Medal for a culinary competition. Johnny loves being creative for the McTyeire students. He truly embodies the values of the “living and learning” experience and community that our university prides itself on.
Sgt. Shaneithia Lewis and Corporal Jack, VUPS
Sergeant Shaneithia Lewis was tasked with developing a community canine program, which has been a resounding success. She and Corporal Jack are superstars on campus, providing a level of public outreach and comfort to the Vanderbilt community. In addition to patrolling during her shifts, Shaneithia responds to invitations and seeks opportunities for Corporal Jack to visit with Vanderbilt community members. Their goal is to provide comfort and affection to students, faculty and staff, in order to reduce anxieties in a variety of situations. They have attended more than 100 events together this year, and have spent more than 100 hours visiting dormitory common areas, libraries, student centers and more. Shaneithia’s efforts to bring the new canine program to fruition are truly an example of exemplary service, and Corporal Jack always brings a smile to people’s faces.
Ashley Majewski, Coordinator, Division of Administration Programs
Ashley’s role has continued to evolve and grow over the past few years as a member of the Office of the Vice Chancellor team. She handles a variety of projects, some of which can be complex and critical at times. From organizing large, impactful events such as the annual Park(ing) Day efforts, to managing key initiatives, Ashley encounters her work with a “can do” attitude. More recently, Ashley has gone above and beyond working on the university’s transportation and mobility (MoveVU) efforts, which directly impact FutureVU. She stepped in to manage MoveVU efforts while the Executive Director was on maternity leave, which included helping move the MoveVU strategy forward and managing scooter/bike efforts on campus. Ashley is an integral member of the division, and is impacting the FutureVU strategy in positive ways.
Chris Jones, Architectural Records Manager, Facilities
Chris maintains current and archived architectural drawings in the Facilities Information Systems (FIS) library for history preservation and analysis. He continually seeks to improve the functionality and organization of the library, often developing ways to access the materials more efficient and easier from the user perspective. Colleagues state that he is a constant source of positivity and motivation and believes deeply in teamwork, values that our division regards highly. In addition, Chris has spent many years as a youth mentor and leader with the Boy Scouts of America and was recently appointed Flotilla Commander, by his peers, in the Coast Guard Reserve.
Kelly Rigali, Accountant, Facilities
A colleague of Kelly said that she is all about service. Kelly has been a Vanderbilt employee for more than 18 years, and is a key member of the Facilities’ Business Operations team. She goes above and beyond to provide exceptional service, and helps colleagues to work through issues with Oracle, procurement processes and more. The level of attention that she provides to colleagues is of note, and she never hesitates to help. Coworkers describe Kelly as “Superwoman” because even as the department faces growing pain, she never fails to help her colleagues triumph over the challenges.
Group award recipients
In addition to individual Service Champion Awards, a Group Award category honors groups that reflect a high level of service and dedication, and a clear example of cross-divisional or cross-institutional collaboration.
Plant Operations Work Rules group
The 2019 group award was presented to the Plant Operations Work Rules group. This group included staff members from across the division, including Facilities, Human Resources and VUPS. In September 2019, the group assembled to review, revise, rework, rewrite and renew work rules for Plant Operations. This team worked collectively and independently to research work rules at other institutions and collect from all sectors of Plant Operations. All proposed rules were reviewed for appropriateness, legality, reasonableness, legitimacy, purpose, brevity and ability to implement. They used large and small face-to-face meetings, individual meetings, email and BOX to accomplish their goal. The group decided upon the most pertinent categories of rules to include and then the development of the rules themselves.They completed their initial tasks one month ahead of schedule, giving managers time to review the rules with select groups of employees, managers and leadership. Given that Plant Operations is governed by the collective bargaining agreement, the development and deployment of these rules take on significant impact to employees. They must conform to labor laws, university policy, the CBA and general ethical treatment of the employees. These efforts were an important undertaking and represented cross-divisional collaboration.
At VU, we appreciate our community and honor the hard work and dedication behind all of our employees! Make sure you #youmakevu at our events!
Welcome to the Vanderbilt family, Faith! The newest member of VUPS will serve as a K-9 Comfort Officer alongside Sergeant Cheryl Bradley. Stop by to meet the newest Commodore during the 2020 Women’s Basketball Pre-game Family Fest from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Memorial Practice Gym.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
Staff are encouraged to participate in the 2020 Staff Engagement Survey now through Feb. 21. The survey is a confidential way for university leaders to collect feedback in order to recognize what Vanderbilt is doing well and where improvements are needed. The goal of the survey is to create a stronger workplace.
Sheena Adams-Avery: An advocate for co-workers and the greater Nashville community
Sheena Adams-Avery works in the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting (OCGA) and has been at Vanderbilt more than six years. She is described as a diligent worker who “always has a friendly smile and a positive attitude,” as well as being known as the OCGA’s “best kept secret.”
Outside of her typical work duties, Sheena is an advocate for work-life balance in her department. She promotes a variety of health and wellness activities including walks, exercise activities, outings, potlucks with healthy options and other team building exercises. In all of these efforts, she is a team player and seeks the support of her entire department.
Beyond Vanderbilt, Sheena’s philanthropic efforts demonstrate why she is highlighted as a Hidden Gem. She is passionate about the Nashville community, and each year leads groups in the American Heart Association “Heart Walk” and an American Cancer Society “Lights of Hope” event. She is also a lead dancer with the Hadley Park Line Dancers, where she volunteers with senior citizens to dance, and also serves as the PR and Community Engagement manager for the dance troupe. Sheena is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, and recently received the Outstanding Educational Advancement Foundation Award this past summer for her philanthropic efforts for historically black colleges and universities.
A colleague stated, “Sheena is a dedicated, conscientious, and enthusiastic team member within the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting. She pays attention to details, ensures her work is done timely and accurately, and always goes above and beyond to help others, all with a great attitude and fun spirit that are contagious. She is inclusive and friendly whether working internally, with other offices across campus, or with external government agencies. She is committed to the success of Vanderbilt and her contributions are truly valued and appreciated.”
Sheena’s involvement and drive to support not only the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting at Vanderbilt, but the Nashville community, exemplify her drive and passion for others. She is a shining example of the values of Vanderbilt University.
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration
Vanderbilt University, 421 Kirkland Hall , Nashville, TN 37240