“A beacon of light.” “A solar energy marvel.” “Unfailingly gracious.” Such comments may sound like promotional sound bites, but they were actually just a sample of the praise bestowed upon the three Staff Awards of Excellence recipients during California State University, Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) 2017 Staff Awards of Excellence ceremony.
Each year the Staff Awards ceremony, which took place in the Loker Student Union Ballroom on Oct. 4, provides a way for the university to highlight the vital role and exemplary service staff plays in CSUDH’s success in carrying out its mission. The event also recognizes staff members for their years of service. This year 111 were honored for five to 40 years of commitment and support for CSUDH faculty and students.
Nominations for the Staff Awards of Excellence are reviewed by the Recognition Committee, which selects the awardees from three categories: innovation, student success, and customer service.
The Innovation Award was presented to Peter Munoz, a building service engineer in the Physical Plant. The award honors those who “use creativity and innovation to streamline and/or improve business processes and services for students and the campus community.”
Munoz was applauded for such successes as creating custom solar carts for staff, making air-conditioning upgrades that save energy and better control comfort levels in offices and classrooms, and playing a role in the university receiving a $1.4 million grant from the CSU Office of the Chancellor during the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.
Alma Melena, coordinator for the Student Service Center, received the Student Success Award for “creating and supporting an environment of teaching and learning that assists in the recruitment, transition, retention, and graduation of students.”
Melena earned her award nomination for, among other achievements, consistently providing students the motivation and support they need to complete their study in Human Services, for serving as a “sympathetic academic adviser” in Health Services for more than 500 students, while “listening with compassion,” and offering them academic guidance. Many students credit Melena for their success, and for helping them “stay on course and graduate from college.”
Donna Cruz, a front-end web developer and branding and special projects analyst in the Office of the Provost, was awarded the Customer Service Award. The honor recognizes staff who “demonstrate exemplary customer service for students, employees and/or guests.”
Among her successes this year, Cruz was recognized for her contribution to the university’s reaccreditation process by helping develop the “Institutional Report” for the WASC Senior College and University Commission. She was also praised for her design and development of “user-friendly and engaging” websites that promote campus programs for faculty and students, members of the Emeritus Faculty Association, as well as visitors to the Toro Dreamers Success Center and the Toro Learning and Testing Center.