From researching national security to figuring out how to rent computers to students during a pandemic, CU Denver employees bring something unique and meaningful to campus every day. To recognize these efforts, the CU system and CU Denver campus give out several awards each year to employees who have demonstrated excellence in their roles. This year, two faculty have been awarded the Distinguished Professor title and two staff have been selected for the Staff Excellence Award.
Distinguished Professor Award
In November, the University of Colorado added 11 new members to its list of Distinguished Professors, a title signifying the highest honor awarded to faculty across the CU system’s four campuses. Two of the additions are CU Denver’s own.
Stephen Gedney, PhD, chair and professor of electrical engineering, has made pioneering contributions to the research and teaching of computational electromagnetics. Not only has he created several very important theory and algorithms in the field, he also has translated these to a real-world impact. These impacts are now foundational elements of most commercial scientific and engineering software used by engineers and scientists around the world using applications from wireless communication to stealth technology. His research also has been used to design a variety of products used for national security. He joined CU in 2014 and has served as chair of electrical engineering and interim dean of the college.
“I am certainly honored not just by the award but by the support of Dean Dunn and the other nominators. Most importantly, I think that this award reflects the quality of faculty that we have here at CU Denver,” Gedney said. “It also reflects the quality of students that I have had the pleasure to work with over the last 30 years as a professor, especially those here at CU Denver. I certainly could not have accomplished what I have without their hard work and dedication to excellence.”
Mary Guy, PhD, a professor in theSchool of Public Affairs, is an internationally known public administration scholar whose work has significantly impacted public administration’s scholarship and practice. A CU faculty member since 2008, she is a respected leader who pioneered the subject of emotional labor in public service, and has proven an excellent mentor. She excels at teaching, guiding numerous doctoral students toward tenure-track jobs. She has received the field’s most prestigious national awards for research and her scholarship has advanced enduring debates in the field, particularly around social equity.
“This honor is especially gratifying— like tasty fruit from seeds I planted decades ago and nurtured throughout my career,” Guy said. “The potential to produce cutting-edge research while making a difference in the community makes CU Denver the perfect place for me. It is a dynamic campus with forward thrust.”
Staff Excellence Award
In October, CU Denver recognized two employees who have gone above and beyond their job duties and surpassed expectations. The following CU Denver staff members received this year’s Staff Excellence Award, which is nomination-based. The following information is from their nomination submissions.
Noreen Khan serves as a case manager within the Office of Case Management, supporting students referred to the Campus Assessment, Response & Evaluation (CARE) Team and those who apply for Loving Lynx emergency funding. She works with students who are often in distress and need support. Khan’s daily responsibilities include meeting with students and concerned individuals to provide guidance, assessing risk, and helping connect students with resources to help them thrive.
When the pandemic struck, many students were furloughed, lost access to financial resources, and faced difficulty getting their basic needs met. Khan became the expert in researching and connecting students with low-cost internet, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, community food banks, and many other resources. She worked with the Office of Advancement to advocate for additional funding when Loving Lynx became depleted due to need and updated the case management team regularly on funding source changes.
“Being awarded with the Staff Excellence Award honors all the hard work that not only I but my entire team put in to assist students during one of the most difficult financial times I’ve seen students in since working at CU Denver,” Khan said. “What makes me most proud to work at CU Denver is serving students from all walks of life alongside the most wonderful and supportive colleagues one could ask for.”
Sean Koto is the visual arts section administrator in the College of Arts & Media’s Visual Arts Department. He’s known by his peers as a professional employee who is deeply dedicated to diversity and inclusion, and to the safety and success of students.
During the remote learning period at CU Denver, Koto worked with the Visual Arts Department and Digital Animation Center lab manager to create an equipment loan application agreement form and reservation system and served as the point of contact for computer checkout. This allowed students to check out computers to use at home.
After CU Denver employees started on-campus work in greater numbers this summer, Koto immediately returned to provide a stable in-person presence in the Visual Arts Department. As a member of the CAM Safe Return Planning Team, he played a critical role in the safe return of his department. He also assisted in organizing the Visual Arts Computer labs according to social distance standards so that students could have a place to safely access computers.
“This was a huge surprise and great recognition of my contributions to the Visual Arts Department and the College of Arts & Media in my 21 years working on this campus,” Koto said. “It is a great boost to the ego to know that hard work does not go unnoticed, and it’s really wonderful to work with great people all over campus and see what comes to fruition by cultivating our students’ passion of learning.”