Jennifer Heck, Administrative Assistant in the Department of Chemistry, and Patricia Tlapak, Library Technician in Libraries Knowledge Access Management Services, have been named December's Employees of the Month by the Staff Employees Council.
Heck, who has worked in the Department of Chemistry since 2005, has become a "Chemistry Department guru" because of her "integrity, cheerfulness and willingness to help," according to nominator Brady Janes, director of laboratories for Chemistry.
Janes said that Heck "is an essential part of the Chemistry Department staff in the office because of her administrative knowledge and her initiative to seek out answers when she doesn't know them. She is organized and welcomes challenges. Several times I have given her projects to follow up on and/or administrative messes to clean up and she happily takes care of it all."
Added Chemistry faculty member Christopher Jeffrey: "Jennifer provides outstanding support for the chemistry department's faculty, staff and students. Her patient demeanor, attention to detail, and practical approach to problem solving make Jennifer a pleasure to work with and she provides an under-appreciated asset to the function of our department."
Tlapak began working for Libraries in 2005, and, according to nominator Molly Beisler, Knowledge Access & Discovery Librarian, "quickly became an indispensable part of our team. Beisler said that Tlapak maintains the library's online resources so that users have reliable access to online articles, journals, books and media 24 hours a day.
"Whenever she is given something new to learn or a new task to do, (Tlapak) not only does what she is asked but frequently returns with new ideas or suggestions for improving our services or managing things more effectively," Beisler said, noting that in March Tlapak and another colleague took one of their projects and presented it at a national conference for Electronic Resources & Libraries.
"Her skills and positive attitude have been of particular value recently, when one of the other employees in our small department has been out for an extended period of time on medical leave," Beisler said. "Trish readily learned all she needed to do to keep things going while her colleague was out, and has done an excellent job prioritizing the work that needs to be done."
Of her work, Tlapak said, "I love the atmosphere of collaboration and innovation that is encouraged in the Knowledge Access and Management Services Department at the Knowledge Center. This has enabled us to implement advanced discovery technologies, making electronic databases and journals more readily available to faculty, students and staff. Although much of what I do is behind the scenes, it is always our department's ultimate goal to provide our library users the newest, cutting-edge tools for the best possible research experience while they are visiting the library, whether they are visiting us in the building or via the Internet."
For her part, Heck said one of the parts of her job that she enjoys most is experiencing the campus' rich diversity. She said "meeting all the new graduate students from different parts of the world" is one of her ongoing highlights of working at the University.