Recognizing outstanding staff in Arts & Sciences

Every fall, Arts & Sciences presents the Outstanding Staff Awards and Dean's Award in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the effectiveness of teaching, advising, counseling, and research in Arts & Sciences. This year, Robert Chien, Rachel Dunaway, and Sue McKinney were celebrated for their exemplary service. Hank Webber received the Dean's Award, which goes to a Washington University employee outside of Arts & Sciences who has had a significant impact on our community. Congratulations to the 2019-20 awardees! Read excerpts from their nomination letters below.

The 2019 Arts & Sciences Outstanding Staff Awards and Dean's Award were presented by Dean Barbara Schaal (center) to Rachel Dunaway, Hank Webber, Robert Chien, and Sue McKinney (left to right) .  

Outstanding Staff Awards

Robert Chien

Robert Chien

Technical Support Specalist with Arts & Sciences Computing

“Robert is competent, kind, cheerful, and always available, to the point that I suspect ubiquitousness as one of his gifts. The economics department is populated by a great variety of technical expertise. It goes from passive users who consider the computer much like the laundry machine, the fridge, or the microwave, to professional computer programmers who disregard any piece of software they did not write themselves. Dealing with such variety of needs and personalities is not easy, but Robert does it every day with a great infectious smile.”

“Robert's willingness to work on difficult problems goes way beyond what is reasonable to expect from the support staff. It is not uncommon once a problem has been 'solved,' for Robert to come back a couple of days later with a better solution even though I had never asked him to find one. It is this dedication that makes him stand out.”

“There are employees who put in there time. There are employees who work hard. And there are exceptional individuals like Robert who have unusual skills and seem to know what needs to be done even before it happens. I strongly support him for an outstanding staff award.”

Rachel Dunaway 

Rachel Dunaway

Administrative Coordinator for the Department of Philosophy

“Rachel plays an integral role in delivering our two PhD programs in Philosophy and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology. These programs, the community of graduate students enrolled in them, could not exist without Rachel’s incredible contributions. ... Rachel does an outstanding job, first of all, covering all the administrative tasks required her. ... But there are two other, more exceptional, things about Rachel’s contributions to our programs that really made me want to nominate her for an award. She has an incredible relationship with our graduate students. She really cares about them and they really appreciate her. Because of Rachel’s rapport with the students, she effectively plays a crucial role in our academic mentoring practices – she often knows as well as anyone when a student hopes to complete a program milestone or when they plan to return from a leave of absence. Second, Rachel is a consummate team player. I always feel like we’re on the same page, working towards a common goal, with common expectations and assumptions, correcting each other’s mistakes, coming up with ideas, just trying to get things done. I can’t say enough how appreciated this is in our department. ... It’s well known that Rachel is one of our most valuable assets.”

Sue McKinney

Sue McKinney

Administrative Coordinator for the Department of Philosophy

“We recruited McKinney to our office four years ago, and since arriving, she has become integral to everything we do. ... She has undertaken the enormous task of assisting in the administration of the PNP undergraduate major, a task that involves counseling students regarding progress towards completion of the PNP major, answering questions about major requirements, advising regarding possibilities for requests for exceptions, supporting scheduling of honors students, certifying majors for graduation, scheduling courses, and, in general, supporting the students and faculty in this program. McKinney has helped us manage both the people and the information required to make the program a success. ... McKinney brings to her job a terrific range of abilities: she has a good eye for detail; she is proactive in finding solutions to problems; she has a good sense of when to ask questions and when to rely on her own judgment; and she works easily with a broad range of other people. Through it all, she has always been ready to consider what is best for others andfor the mission of the department. The result is that McKinney’s work makes everything else that the Department does (including teaching, research, mentoring students, hosting conferences –everything else!) work better.”

 

Dean's Award

Hank Webber

Hank Webber

Executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer

Hank Webber oversees a wide variety of administrative and external affairs functions including on and off campus university real estate and facilities, human resources, university operations, information technology and security, with combined operating and capital budgets of over $500M annually and over 1,600 university and contracted staff.  He has joint responsibility with the provost for information technology and the chancellor for external affairs. He also chairs the university’s administrative cabinet. Since coming to Washington University in 2008, Webber has led the development of the university’s real estate and sustainability master plans, long-term housing strategy and leads, along with the provost and chief financial officer, the university budget process. He lead “Campus Next: Enhancing the East End of the Danforth Campus,” the largest capital project in the history of Washington University. He has played a key role in the development of CORTEX, a 200-acre urban biotech redevelopment effort with 6,000 jobs and over 400 companies.