University of Arizona Awards for Excellence - 2020

Congratulations to the 2020 University of Arizona Award for Excellence recipients! While our normal (fabulous) awards reception was canceled this year owing to the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we did make traditional surprise visits via Zoom. It is that kind of adaptive spirit and commitment, exemplified by the honorees, that will get us all through this crises. To see a Surprise Visit in action, watch this video on Panopto (select UANetID login). And special thanks to everyone who wrote the nomination letters and to the more than 50 employees across campus who read the nominations and made the selections.
And now, the Honorees:


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.

Joan Timeche

Joan Timeche, Executive Director, Native Nations Institute, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy

Joan has created an atmosphere that supports and encourages Native professionals to excel and advance in their chosen areas of work. She has provided all staff with both individual and team opportunities for professional development. Joan's inclusive investments in staff excellence pays off in capacity and effectiveness yet when staff move on to higher positions elsewhere it is through her commitment to them that they are prepared to follow their dreams.



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.

Patricia Barcelo-Sanders

Patricia Barcelo-Sanders, Program Coordinator, Senior, Department of Surgery

Patty was recognized for her responsible, energetic and goal-orientated capabilities. She draws on her own immigrant background to assist visiting fellows with visas and with orienting to Tucson and the University. She is an amazing woman who works hard and always goes above and beyond in all she does.


Nicole F. Bergier

Nicole F. Bergier, Coordinator, Prevention Research, Health Promotion Sciences

Nicole works to enhance student and community engagement. She leads the Health2BMe! summer camp for children in under served communities. Nicole coordinates the camp, its curriculum and faculty participation, and sponsorship. Anyone who has the pleasure to interact with Nicole sees her giving spirit and willingness to help as unique and welcome.


Nichole M. Guard

Nichole M. Guard, Program Coordinator, Senior, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Nichole is recognized as a diligent, organized and inspirational leader. She works to ensure that programs within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese connect seamlessly with programs in other units, ensuring that student needs are met. She goes above and beyond her job description to counsel and mentor students, and finding creative ways to give the the resources they need to be successful.


Angela Hackett

Angela Hackett, Manager, Administration, School of Government & Public Policy

Angela wears many hats. She is an administrative supervisor, a department liaison, she directs faculty affairs, coordinates with the business staff, manages scholarship awards, and coordinates event planning. She is a person who gets things done and is a motivated leader and liaison. She always seems to know which approach is appropriate. She is truly and indispensable member of the School.


Toni Holloway

Toni Holloway, Applications Systems Analyst/Developer, Principal, Student Admin Systems Group

As a unit manager, Toni is always committed to the needs and growth of her staff. She is consistently making herself available and is committed to a true 'open-door' policy. She takes every opportunity to recognize her staff achievements, and ensure they are getting the tools and resources they need to achieve their career goals. Toni was instrumental in the redesign process, for the Next Steps Center, one of the most visible and critically important online experiences for new students, overcoming many technical obstacles along the way. Toni has earned the affectionate nickname, "Mad Dawg" from colleagues for her loyalty, tenaciousness, and integrity.


Mark St. Onge

Mark St. OngeDirector, Utility Services, Facilities Management

Mark goes to great lengths on a daily basis to inculcate a positive, supportive and inclusive culture in Utility Services. Mark is a champion of growing talent within his organization, providing opportunities for on-the-job training and supporting internal and professional development. He also spearheads successful practices and strategies to make Utilities' more efficient, sharing his knowledge with other universities and bringing back best practices that can be used here.


Maria Schuchardt

Maria SchuchardtProgram Coordinator, SeniorLunar and Planetary Laboratory

Cory made a special effort to be inclusive of the distance education activities and CRM needs, aiding in renaming the instance ‘Extended Campuses’ to ensure we, and our student population, were considered in larger decisions affecting the operations and design of the software. Not only did this strengthen the work of the distance education efforts, but it allowed for greater collaboration and sharing of ideas across Online and Distance Education, making us all better at what we trying to accomplish. Distance Education has almost doubled statewide undergraduate enrollment from 400studentsto 750 students while Arizona Online has grown exponentially from 150 to 3700 students. Without the contributions of Cory LaPlant in managing and communicating with our prospective students and applicants, our teams would not have been able to sustain this growth trajectory.


Peter Scorcia

Peter ScorciaDirector, Enrollment Management Systems and CommunicationAdmissions and New Student Enrollment

Peter is a positive and level-headed leader, who invests in each of his team members. He serves as a mentor and gives team members the opportunity to develop new skills, and builds a sense of comradery and professionalism among the group. He is strong advocate for the student experience and promotes ideas and technology that improve operational productivity while keeping the student experience in mind. An out-of-the-box thinker himself, Peter understands the value that comes from working with people of different backgrounds, with different perspectives and ideas. 


Jennifer Uhrlab

Jennifer UhrlabAssociate Research Scientist, Department of Immunobiology

Jennifer is recognized for her scientific experience, knowledge base and problem-solving skills. In her role as a lab manager, she is a mentor for students and junior technicians in the laboratory. All of the labs in the department benefit from her time, attention and advice. Whether it's designing an experiment, editing a paper, or listening to a trainee's practice presentation, Jen is ready to make it happen. Jen is an amazing leader, mentor and scientist, and truly epitomizes "outstanding achievement in the workplace". The second picture shows Jen dressed in the BSL3 PPE required for some of her work.


The team award is presented to a team primarily comprised of Classified University Staff and tasked with a specific project or function.

Biosphere 2: Water, Atmosphere & Life Dynamics Team

The Biosphere 2 WALD team finished an amazing campaign to understand what will happen to our rain forests as global climate change progresses and are stressed by drought and warmer temperatures. The team, composed of faculty, academic professionals, students, staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure the Biosphere was ready. 5 million dollars of equipment was connected to the whole ecosystem so that they could measure leaves, trunks and roots of plants, the atmosphere and soil for water and carbon.  The months long campaign worked perfectly, and enormous amounts of data was collected. The whole process will clearly enhance our understanding of our world and will add to the understanding that the UA is a special place with great teams, students, staff and faculty.

Biosphere 2 Rainforest

Laura Meredith, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Biosphere 2 Director of Rain forest Research
Jana U’Ren, Biosystems Engineering
Malak Tfaily, Environmental Sciences
Bonnie Hurwitz, Biosystems Engineering
Jia Hu, School of Natural Resources and the Environment
Joost van Haren, B2 & Honors College

Jason de Leeuw, B2
Wei-Ren Ng, B2
Juliana Gil Loaiza, Research Specialist Meredith Lab, SNRE
Connor Youngerman, Research Specialist Meredith Lab, SNRE
Jane Fudyma, Research Specialist Tfaily Lab, ENV
Tim McMullen & Doug Cline, Representing B2 Energy Center


Office of Budget & Planning Team

This exceptional team of staff members was responsible for implementing a new budget and planning system, tools, and processes in fiscal year 2020 and undertook this project while continuing to perform their normal business processes. The new system is an enterprise system that will be used by all departments across the university to plan and prepare their budgets and financial commitments The new system will enable departments, colleges, support units and university leadership to communicate their plans in a consistent manner.

Office of Budget & Planning Team

Top Row:

Garth Perry, Assistant Director
Megan Arriaga, Institutional Analyst
Ravindra BhatDeveloper, Application/Database
Veronica ChuSenior Analyst, Budget & Financial
Carol CorryAnalyst, Budget & Financial


Second row:

Zachariah HoffmanApplications System Analyst, Financial
Matthew KennedySenior Analyst, Budget & Financial
Cindy MchenryAnalyst, Budget & Financial
Adriana PradoAnalyst, Budget & Financial


The Department Award recognizes a University of Arizona department for excellence in the management of its people and resources creating a culture of learning and a satisfying work environment.

MCB Department on a retreat

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Department Head, Joyce Schroeder

The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology understands that diversity of ideas, perspectives, and approaches is critical to the general of new knowledge. We believe faculty, staff and students from diverse backgrounds bring distinctive life experiences and unique perspectives to scholarly inquiry, scientific problems, and interdisciplinary investigation - all of which are crucial to understanding our world and to resolving issues affecting all of humankind. We are delighted to be a part of a department that values and embodies the criteria set forth by the awards committee.

Congratulations to These Dedicated Employees!