The Distinguished Staff Awards, the university’s highest staff recognition, annually honors individuals for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments and service to The Ohio State University.
Congratulations to the 13 recipients awarded during Ohio State’s Sesquicentennial, which celebrates all that the people of Ohio State have accomplished and all that is yet to come. The university’s mission could not be accomplished without the dedication, friendship, work and incomparable spirit of our extraordinary Buckeye staff members.
To be considered for a Distinguished Staff Award, nominations are submitted and carefully reviewed by the selection committee. Each nomination is assessed on criteria consistent with the university’s values, as well as the individual’s unique contributions to enhance the quality of work life for faculty, staff, students or patients, provide outstanding and ongoing service to university stakeholders, and/or develop creative solutions to increase department or university operations.
This year, one outstanding recipient was awarded the inaugural Dr. Michael V. Drake President’s Award, a special award distinction that recognizes a nominee who demonstrates university values, as well as an exceptional commitment to diversity, community engagement, affordable education and access for all students.
Congratulations to the 2020 Dr. Michael V. Drake President’s Award recipient:
Program Director, Introduction to Psychology
Department of Psychology
Dr. Melissa (Missy) Beers has changed the lives of thousands of Ohio State students through her dedication, creative problem-solving, empathy and compassion, all of which are rooted in her deep passion for enabling students to succeed. As a national leader in learning outcomes, she has developed tools and processes for gathering evidence to improve class activities and assignments, and regularly shares her expertise across the university and beyond. Missy has worked on many university-wide programs that increase access and success at Ohio State, including the new general education curriculum, digital affordability programs and an open textbook program. Her greatest passion is supporting graduate students to be successful in college teaching. She was also recognized with the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Staff Award in 2018 and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Honors Award in 2016.
Congratulations to the 2020 Distinguished Staff Award recipients:
Undergraduate Program Director
College of Social Work
Beyond being a trusted, supportive partner for students, Jennie Babcock is a champion for academic success. Jennie played an integral role in the oversight, launch and success of expanding the social work program at four regional campuses, which led to significant increases in students graduating with social work degrees. She also fosters relationships with two-year universities to reduce barriers and create a seamless process for transfer students. In addition to writing the college’s first online course and supervising online course development, Jennie led the development of the Child Welfare and Substance Misuse and Addiction minor degree programs.
Rehabilitation Services Manager
Wexner Medical Center
Carol Eskay’s innovation and devotion has resulted in greater patient care, expanded services, facility improvements and a neurological outpatient rehabilitation program that is recognized as a gold standard for similar programs across the country. As a passionate advocate for her profession and team members, she fosters collaboration across the medical center to provide the best possible treatment. Always dedicated to the patient, Carol is integral in the treatment of complex patient injuries and created a feedback initiative to improve patient experience.
Associate Vice President
Office of Distance Education and eLearning
Robert Griffiths has led a transformative change in Ohio State’s distance education programming and technology-empowered learning capacities—increasingly important components to student access, academic success and workforce development. Under Robert’s leadership, U.S. News and World Report named Ohio State No. 1 for online bachelor’s programs and in the top 20 for all online programs considered in the rankings. In his work across all 15 colleges and four regional campuses, Robert generates high-quality online courses and programs while devoting himself to personal and professional relationships with all team members and university colleagues.
School of Environment and Natural Resources
Renee Johnston is dedicated to creating positive student experiences and has been lauded as critical in student success. Through her commitment to using data to inform decisions and actions, Renee created express services for advising appointments which enabled students to have immediate advising needs met. Renee also uses her ability to generate trust with faculty and students to understand their challenges and make improvements, which has led to the creation of curriculum roadmaps that improved retention and 4-year graduation rates by helping students better plan and sequence their courses.
Office Administrative Associate
Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery
College of Medicine
Through her consistently exceptional service, Suzanne Knott has been instrumental in helping hundreds of students, researchers and faculty achieve their academic goals. With notable energy, inventiveness and dedication to helping others, she developed a comprehensive system and seminars for promotion and tenure. She also helps guide laboratory careers of young researchers and places students with lab experiences. Additionally, she initiated an effort at the Stephanie Spielman Breast Cancer Center to reduce scheduling time for mastectomy patients.
Senior Grants Specialist
Institute for Population Research
College of Arts and Sciences
An expert in grant administration, Jill Morris assists researchers across the university in grant application management, resulting in $45 million in external funds for the university. She is a skilled, diligent leader among population research center administrators, and her willingness to share her expertise has earned her the respect and trust of colleagues across the nation. Faculty and staff who have worked with Jill appreciate her expertise, attention to detail and collaborative nature, which positively impacts their research and advances the university’s mission.
Program Manager, Biomedical Science Major
Department of Biomedical Education and Anatomy
College of Medicine
As a highly respected, productive and selfless mentor, teacher and advocate for Ohio State, Steven Mousetes serves as a model academic advisor and educator. Steven is an expert in advising and counseling students in the biomedical science major as well as other students seeking his guidance. In addition to academic advising, he juggles the many facets (e.g., recruitment, orientation, fiscal, etc.) of his position with precision. He has cultivated new programs and unique curricula that increase student success. With an unparalleled commitment to students and the university, Steven’s willingness to help makes him integral in many students’ decisions to become a Buckeye and flourish throughout their undergraduate careers.
Director of Conard Learning Center
Ohio State University at Mansfield
Known as a student engagement leader, trusted professional and creative problem solver, Andrew Mueller is vital to student success and has created new initiatives and protocols that are indispensable to the Mansfield campus. Andrew continually works to expand the Conard Learning Center’s impact through remarkable efficiencies, without increasing budget and even saving more than $20,000 per year. Under his leadership and because of his compassionate approach to helping students, last year, the center completed 10,600 student consultation hours with 93% of the students passing their courses.
Assistant Director for Fitness Services
Department of Recreational Sports
Office of Student Life
Stephanne Musser has created opportunities for nearly half a million faculty, staff and students to be physically active, and her leadership has created a culture of wellness that inspires Buckeyes to lead healthy, balanced lives. Under her leadership, the fitness area has undergone remarkable transformation with enhanced programming and efficiencies, consistent growth in group fitness and increased revenue for personal trainer education. Stephanne is an exemplary leader and inspires others through her integrity, accountability and collaborative approach.
Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures
College of Arts and Sciences
Known as the heart and soul of the center, Patricia (Pattie) Strope serves an integral role in the success of each student, faculty and staff. Always going above and beyond to make sure everyone’s needs are met with compassion, she uses her extensive knowledge, calm demeanor and problem-solving skills to find practical and logical solutions. Through quiet grace, boundless kindness and an enthusiastic approach, Pattie is always willing to help others.
Center for Aviation Studies
College of Engineering
As an integral part in ensuring student success, Brain Strzempkowski has been instrumental in making Ohio State one of 20 universities worldwide to teach the Aircraft Dispatch Program. Often going out of his way to research and find creative solutions, his contributions have resulted in a comprehensive curricular change and created online teaching methods that will be implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration for students nationwide. With a dedicated, humble and supportive nature, he always looks for ways to improve the program, student experience and the field of aviation.
Director, Learning Programs/Digital Flagship
Office of Distance Education and eLearning
Cory Tressler has transformed Ohio State undergraduate education by leading and implementing many university-wide initiatives that prepare students for college, enhance eLearning and help faculty design course content. As a leader of the Digital Flagship initiative, which has thus far provided more than 23,000 iPads to undergraduate students, Cory is an advocate for student access to technology, affordable course content and engaging programs. Additionally, Cory’s teaching and learning innovations and the creation of an accessible coding curriculum were significant contributors to Ohio State being recognized with the Apple Distinguished School designation since 2015.