2024 Awards for Excellence

The 2024 Awards for Excellence Ceremony was held on May 3, 2024 in Bear Down Gym. Honoring employees for their achievements in furthering the missions of the University of Arizona, recipients are nominated by colleagues and peers and selected by a panel of volunteer judges made up of staff and faculty.  

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.

Mary Portillo and colleagues

Mary Portillo, Department of Spanish & Portuguese

Mary is currently in her 35th year working in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

Mary’s quiet and effective work allows faculty and graduate students to focus on research questions rather than on the technicalities.  Mary serves the Tucson community in many ways, including actively participating and volunteering in local organizations. She is the primary contact for our very active alumni and donors.

“Mary Portillo is our heart.”

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.


Picture of Adrian Arroyo Perez

Adrián Arroyo Pérez, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Faculty Programs
Nominated by Andrea Romero

Adrián has dramatically improved operational efficiency by developing  excellent on-boarding activities for all new faculty. His humanistic approach and commitment to the University - to its faculty and students and the broader community -- is evident in everything he does.  He is an active HSI Fellow where his leadership has fostered an HSI webinar series that reaches across the world, mentoring of future leaders, and development of new programs.


Sascha Binachi
Clinical Operations PrEP/PEP Program Manager
Department of Medicine
Nominated by Kristen Ellis

Picture of Sascha Binachi

Sascha played an instrumental role in creating the HIV Prevention and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) program at the University of Arizona Petersen Clinics. Her efforts have ensured hundreds of individuals can access HIV prevention services and gained recognition for the Petersen HIV Clinic’s PEP program. Sascha is committed to teaching and mentoring others. Her positive impact translates into better care for patients.






Picture of Debbie Shon Buhler

Debbie Shon Buhler
Senior Program Coordinator
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching GIDP

SLAT faculty and are spread across 5 colleges, so “coordinating SLAT requires superpowers,” says one nominator.  Debbie achieves this with professionalism, creativity, innovation, and compassion. The SLAT Student Association credits Debbie for positively shaping their Ph.D. journeys: “She has saved us all from various credit, immigration, scheduling, and resource-related disasters.”


Erin Chadd
Director of Special Projects & Chief of Staff
University of Arizona International Affairs

Picture of Erin Chadd

Nominated by Jenny Lee Erin is a talented project manager who gets tasks done efficiently while doing so with respect and compassion. Erin played the key role in the renovation of space for the Global Center, a 5-year project made even more challenging by staggered funding and the global pandemic. Erin kept our vision of a Global Center that welcomes international students and faculty.


Picture of Jocelyn Fisher, Ed.D.

Jocelyn Fisher, Ed.D.
Faculty Affairs Coordinator
College of Applied Science &Technology
Nominated by Linda Denno & Charles Walker

Dr. Fisher launched the college’s first faculty peer mentoring program which serves to partner new(er) faculty with senior level faculty with the targeted goal of fostering meaningful, creative relationships, maximizing service opportunities, and eliminating silos. Jocelyn’s unique ability to connect with people, her capacity for magnifying their efforts, and her undaunted positivity is the magic that makes it all work.


Kate Mackay
Associate Director
Center for Educational Resources in Culture
Language & Literacy

Picture of Kate Mackay

Kate’s most outstanding achievement has been the development and facilitation of CERCLL’s digital offerings. Owing to Kate’s ability to be organized, proactive (sometimes seemingly psychic) the outcomes of CERCLL’s innovations are consistently of high quality and high impact







Picture of Elizabeth Piña

Elizabeth Piña
Program Coordinator, Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies
Nominated by Rebecca Hartzell

Liz provides consistent and generous service to the faculty and graduate students in the College of Education.  She is proactive and knowledgeable in helping students navigate the infrastructure of the University. Liz’s expertise is key to the success of the department’s training grant that has financially supported over 100 graduate students as they pursue degrees in rehabilitation counseling and vocational rehabilitation.




Picture of Clarisa Robles Parra

Clarisa Robles Parra
Chief of Staff, Office of the Provost
Nominated by Nina Bates

Clarisa approaches her demanding work with wisdom and empathy. She has ensured “smooth and effective workflow through a period of change.” Clarisa simplified complex and burdensome processes to support the growth and development of the University’s leadership. She applies these same organization skills to streamline management of student Code of Conduct cases. Her dedication, innovation and leadership have profound impact.




Picture of Tere Weiler

Tere Weiler
Executive Associate, Administrative and Academic Affairs, W.A. Franke Honors College
Nominated by Patrick Balliani

“No one was more instrumental in transitioning us from Slonaker House to the W.A. Franke Honors College Village. Tere was crucial to every aspect of the process.” Tere makes everyone feel respected and valued. She serves students and faculty in a collaborative way and is solution-oriented. She brings energy, thoughtfulness and cultural-competency to everything she does.


SILLC Business & Academic Services Support Team 



School of International Languages


Gennady Sare
Manager, Business & Finance
Lindsey Fera
Human Resources Coordinator
Frank Whitehead
Graduate Services Coordinator
Adil Mohyuddin,
 Financial Services Coordinator
Summer Witting,
 Financial Services Coordinator
Stephanie Topete Estrella
Business Coordinator
Leonora Escobar
Curriculum Services Coordinator
Jessica Collins
Curriculum & P-Card Coordinator
Gregorio Urquidez
Events Coordinator & Building Manager
Marcela Thompson, 
Administrative Assistant, Lead
Hector Silva
Administrative Assistant, SILLC Director Assistant
Grace Cottrell
Administrative Assistant
Julian Tran
Administrative Assistant


Project FUTRE & PeerWorks


Project FUTRE & PeerWORKS

Project FUTURE


Alyssa Padilla, Assistant Director of Operations

Elena Cameron, Health Education Promotion Professional II

Stephanie Valencia, Project Manager, S, CCPA/UAHS

Victoria Silva, Student C, Student, CCPA/UAHS


COM-T/Department of Family & Community Medicine

Cheryl Glass, Director, Workforce Development Program

Kevin Phillips, Workforce Development Trainer

Victoria Molina, Workforce Development Assistant Trainer

Rita Romero, Workforce Development Training Coordinator

Veronica Lopez, Project Management Assistant

Jess Wallace, Scientific Analyst

Randa Kutob, Associate Professor/Director

Jennifer S. De La Rosa, Assistant Research Professor

Allison Huff, Assistant Professor

Todd Vanderah, Regents Professor, Department of Pharmacology

Student Success & Retention Innovation

Student Success & Retention Innovation



Student Success Photo

Anchored in the thriving Student Success District, SSRI is allied in a synergistic commitment to support undergraduate student.

This unit leads inclusively, strategically, and compassionately to advance the mission of the university. SSRI demonstrates a commitment to advancing employees’ careers and promoting from within. SSRI embodies employee-centric values such as flexible work when possible.