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UA honors employees at annual Awards for Excellence ceremony

Daniyal Arshad

UA President Ann Weaver Hart talks about her optimism on Dr. Robert Robbins taking over the position at a recent faculty senate meeting. Hart was honored at the 29th annual Award for Excellence ceremony on April 28.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart helped recognize appointed professionals and classified staff at the 29th annual Awards for Excellence ceremony on Friday afternoon, with colleagues and family members gathering at the event to recognize the accomplishments of the award winners.

Appointed professionals and classified staff include anyone who works at the UA that is not part of the faculty. Nominees and recipients included the lead locksmith, administrative assistants, program coordinators and many other people who work behind the scenes to keep the UA running. University Chief of Police Brian Seastone was the master of ceremonies for the event.

“From custodians to groundskeepers to admin assistants, you are the ones who make this great place work,” Seastone said in his opening speech.

Janet Gurton, executive vice chair of the Classified Staff Council, also offered words of encouragement and gratitude to the audience.

“Your efforts are a shining example of why the UA is a gem of Arizona,” Gurton said.

Hart was honored at the ceremony and presented with an award of appreciation, with Gurton thanking Hart for being a champion for the councils and for the work that she has done for the staff at the UA.

“What a remarkable, caring, outstanding person,” Seastone said. “We are going to miss you and we thank you for your service.”

Hart will be officially leaving the position of president when Dr. Robert Robbins replaces her on June 1.

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The most prestigious award of the event was the Billy Joe Varney Award, named after a former associate vice president emeritus for planning and budgeting who worked for the UA for 30 years and had a huge impact on the university community. The award, presented by his daughters, honors a member of staff who has been at the UA for over 15 years and who has provided exceptional service to the university.

Maia Ingram, co-director of the AZ Prevention Research Center and program director of community based evaluation projects in health promotion sciences, won the award this year. She was nominated by co-workers who submitted letters to the councils for review.

“I have to admit the best part of this was bringing my folder home and reading through the letters,” Ingram said. “Everyone took time to write those letters about me and they were so kind. It was an emotional experience.”

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Other awards at the ceremony included 11 individual Awards of Excellence and one team excellence award among others. Every recipient received $1000.

Claudia Arias, a co-chair of the Awards of Excellence as well as working as a senior program coordinator for engineering administration, said one of her favorite parts is announcing to the winners that they have been chosen.

“We do surprise visits in March to tell people that they won or were nominated for an award,” Arias said. “Some people are overwhelmed, some people cry, we get different reactions from everybody.”

Arias is part of the council now because she was a recipient of an Award of Excellence in 2007 for her work in career services.

“I was really surprised and I was totally blown away,” Arias said. “This is a really big deal.”

Follow Tirion Morris on Twitter.

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