This award recognizes a career of service to the University of Arizona and the community by someone who loves the UA and acts in the spirit of Billy Joe Varney.

Hope Dang

Hope Dang, Assistant Staff Scientist in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Colleagues say Hope shows the same commitment to her work today that she did when she started the job 15 years ago. She is dedicated to mentoring undergraduate students every year and to making sure that the laboratory where she works is as efficient as it can be. She is also a volunteer at the Humane Society. "Knowing that there are so many qualified applicants, I truly appreciate being nominated and chosen for the Billy Joe Varney Award," Dang said. "It is a tremendous honor. Today, I am even more committed to continue supporting the students and community that have brought me so much joy and purpose. I am so fortunate to love what I do; it doesn't feel like work to me."



Individual Awards are presented to approximately 9 members of the Classified and University Staff, regardless of their length of service, classification or pay grade. These awards are designed to recognize outstanding achievements.

Rozanne Canizales

Rozanne Canizales, Administrative Manager, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Rozanne creates a good rapport with everyone with whom she works and is welcoming to everyone who comes into the building and those with whom she interacts over phone or email. "Working at the University of Arizona was one of the best decisions I've ever made," Canizales said. "As a native Tucsonan, I am passionate about the UA and, in particular, Arizona Athletics. I take pride in assisting others and truly enjoy coming to work each day."


Linda Chu

Linda Chu, Assistant Director for Global Programs, Center for English as a Second Language

Linda is dedicated to creating a center that diversifies the UA campus. Her efforts have drawn students from countries that were previously underrepresented at the UA, like Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Angola. Chu also recognizes that diversity can come from the LGBTQ community and actively seeks to increase her knowledge and understanding on issues related to that community.


Colin Deeds

Colin Deeds, Assistant Director, Latin American Studies

Colin has engaged in outreach efforts in the Tucson community that have been recognized throughout the University and surrounding area. He volunteers for projects related to his work and collaborates with his colleagues and students on and off campus, connecting them to professional workshops, discussions and other activities. "I am humbled to be chosen from a group of so many dedicated employees across campus, and am honored by the nomination from my wonderful colleagues," Deeds said.


Cara Lazazzera

Cara Lazazzera, Business Manager, Center for English as a Second language

With a flexible and patient mindset, she works with students who are learning English. Her cultural competence and patience in helping students who often have different cultural expectations with respect to service transactions is essential in making our center run smoothly. Despite the stress inherent to such interactions, I have yet to see Cara flustered.


Wendy Remencus-Halstead

Wendy Remencus-Halstead, Custodial Area Supervisor, Facilities Management

Wendy puts in extra hours to ensure that her job is done right. Even though She instills a work ethic in her employees to do a job well, she also makes sure that they have enough time to be at home with their families. She also strives to be a better employee and supervisor by taking advantage of professional development opportunities. Her positive energy and smile brings joy to the people around her, and I take great pride in calling her my friend.


Patricia Sousa

Patricia Sousa, Assistant Dean, Eller College of Management

Patricia is known among her colleagues for her dedication to her department. She is described her as a "'hidden wonder' in terms of her contributions to the college, University and community. Pat is a rock upon which entire foundations are built, and her expertise can be felt and observed in everything she does. Pat has helped streamline and simplify systems that have maximized the resources to provide the best possible environment for research and teaching.


Denielle Swartz

Denielle Swartz, Database Specialist, Office of the Registrar

Denielle is known and admired in her office for her positivity, support and all-around excellence. She started as a student worker and has worked with Room and Course Scheduling for 10 years. "Receiving this award fills me with gratitude for the amazing people I work with in Room and Course Scheduling, as well as the wonderful and kind academic department representatives I have the pleasure of interacting with on a daily basis," Swartz said.


Gisela Telis

Gisela Telis, Content Producer, Arizona Public Media

Gisela has received Emmy Awards for her work bringing attention to mental health issues. Her work "exemplifies the best and most meaningful aspects of the public service and outreach missions shared by Arizona Public Media and the University of Arizona. Telis also recently received an Honorable Mention from the National Press Foundation for her story on the lack of mental health services in rural communities.


Katie Van Renterghem

Katie Van Renterghem, Institutional Analyst, Office of Academic Affairs

Katie does work that is crucial to the successful development of the new Responsibility Centered Management budgeting system on campus. With her people skills, she also helps lead University committees that are making tough decisions and streamlining UA processes. "I am extremely honored to be receiving the Award for Excellence," Van Renterghem said. "I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some of the best people on campus, and it's with their support and encouragement that I've been able to achieve the success I've had. I love what I do and I'm excited to continue helping the University move forward."


Pamela Wagner

Pamela Wagner, Administrative Associate, Department of Family and Community Medicine

Pamela lives out her work exemplifying health and wellness. Besides working on Camp Wellness, a program that promotes the health of adults with mental illness, Wagner also brings quality service and positivity to everyone around her. Her attention to diversity and cultural competency is also a testament to her dedication to the principles of our program and the University at large. Said Wagner: "Being nominated for this award by the awesome team I get the privilege to work with every day was very humbling. Knowing I was selected as a winner from across the entire University has left me speechless – and that's really hard to do!"


Ed Xia

Ed Xia, Director of Information Technologies, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Ed is a prime example of how a good team starts with its head. He has managed to develop and cultivate a team that is efficient, organized, responsive and forward-thinking. "I am stunned and feel considerably honored to receive this prestigious Award for Excellence. I would also like to recognize the other 20 members of my office, who have put in their time and efforts to support faculty, students and staff at SBS and earned an incredible reputation for SBS Tech IT support."


Prisca Zimmerman

Prisca Zimmerman, Lab Manager and Veterinary Technician, Department of Physiology

Prisca has demonstrated overwhelming dedication, ethical standards and professional practice, according to her nominators. After 11 years, she has become the most trusted and relied-upon member of our team. Prisca perfected all the steps involved in our work by paying close attention to detail and not being satisfied with anything less than outstanding. This is the most defining feature of her work ethic.


The Department Award for Excellence is awarded to a single department that displays excellence in the management of its people and resources.


The Science City Executive Committee is a group from across campus that leads and organizes a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning experience at the Tucson Festival of Books. Science City is an annual event that requires year-round planning and organization. Campus units and community groups provide approximately 1,200 volunteers to staff the booths during the event. "The team is dedicated to providing an excellent experience for attendees, and their commitment to the event has resulted in Science City becoming the largest STEAM event in Arizona," wrote Marcy Euler, executive director of the Tucson Festival of Books.

University Animal Care Group Photo

This year's award was given to University Animal Care, which has the responsibility of caring for more than 20,000 animals a day. The department works to ensure the welfare of animals and researchers. David Besselsen, director and attending veterinarian of University Animal Care, submitted the nomination. "The UAC team has worked tirelessly to complete a broad array of projects to benefit both the employees and users of the UA Animal Care program," Besselsen said. "Their vibrant departmental culture and use of resources to improve team knowledge and skills has generated elevated status and integration within the scientific community."


The Team Award for Excellence is awarded to a team tasked with a specific project or function. Team members should also have established means by which to hold each other accountable


UA RISE Group Photo

The award went to UA Health Sciences' UA RISE (Recovery Through Integration, Support and Empowerment) Health and Wellness Center, also known as Camp Wellness. The program helps families and communities by promoting the health of adults with mental illness through education, training and peer support. After a loss of funding, the team worked together to create a new program model, putting in extra hours of work, with new attitudes and new schedules. Nominator Andy Bernstein, clinical director of the center, wrote that "this team's work, in all of its demonstrated success for those with psychiatric disabilities, should stand as a model for health; proof that people who suffer from mental illness can become an effective and viable part of society's workforce."

Additional Awards Presented at the Ceremony:

The Classified Staff Council Special Award recognizes an individual for outstanding support of and impact on classified staff

Allison Vaillancourt

The award went to Allison Vaillancourt, Vice President of Human Resources and Institutional Effectiveness.

The Eugene Sander Shared Governance Awards provides recognition to UA leaders who embrace and embody the ideals of shared governance and recognize the importance of appointed professionals and their contributions.

There were two awardees:


Melissa Vito

Melissa Vito, Senior Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and


Mika Galilee-Belfer

Mika Galilee-Belfer, Director of Faculty Affairs and Strategic Planning in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.


The Sandra Taylor University Citizen Staff Award, named for retired Senior Vice President for Campus Life Saundra Taylor, recognizes those who work for the good of the University and its students.


It was given to Jill Ramirez, Senior Coordinator for Sustainability Education in Residence Life.

Congratulations to These Dedicated Employees!