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Staff Awards 2021

Dean’s Excellence Award

Presented to an SoC staff member who demonstrates leadership, efficiency, communication, and support through their role. The person’s institutional expertise has improved the SoC for all members.

Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson is the lighting supervisor at the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. He has been with Northwestern for 23 years and received glowing recommendations for his stellar work ethic, sense of humor, and technical skills.

“He is generous with his time and thinking, which ranges from the details and complications of installing a light plot to big ideas about how pedagogy and practice should intersect within the Center,” read one nomination. “It is this kind of thinking that I think exemplifies what the School of Communication and Northwestern look for in an employee–paying attention to interdisciplinary thinking and fostering radical collaboration.”

Peter is well known for offering solutions, reserving complaints, and giving his all to his colleagues. In the last year, he began working with video to assist in the pivot to virtual productions. One nomination called him a “shining light.”

“Peter quietly glows with enthusiasm, eagerness, kindness, appreciation for others and a clear love of the artform and the students,” said this nominator. “Peter has been a shining example and inspiration to the rest of the staff during the past year.”

Rising Star Award for Excellence in a New Position

Presented to an SoC staff member who has demonstrated high achievement and excellence in their new position. They are resourceful and lead with initiative and adaptability. They stand out as a wonderful new addition to their department and provide a focus of service to all.

James Bruning

James Bruning has been serving as an administrative assistant 3 reporting to the Associate Dean for Research since fall of 2019. Prompt, accurate, resourceful, and kind, James has received high praise from his colleagues for simply “making our lives easier.”

“James is eager to learn new things, and always has the attitude of a helper,” read one nomination. “He comes to us constantly asking what else can be done to make our work easier, smoother, more effective and efficient.”

James filled a new position, which mandated some adjustments and flexibility, but he always remained willing to be as helpful as he could, especially when COVID-19 sent everyone home shortly after he started at Northwestern.

“James is never one to shy away from work,” read one nomination. “He excels in his willingness to assist others and when we thank him, he always says, ‘I am happy to help out.’”

Luz Montoya

Luz Montoya is a financial assistant and has been working with the SoC finance team for nearly two years. Luz immediately became integral to financial operations, thanks to her positivity, professionalism, and willingness to tackle new challenges. After a payroll manager went on extended leave, Luz happily stepped in and took a crash course in payroll to fill the need.

“I can’t say enough how grateful I am for her hard work,” read one nomination.

“I was very happy to learn about SoC Staff Award program,” read another. “I was thinking how to show Luz my appreciation for her hard work, and the program announcement was just what I needed!”

And if you’ve ever had one of Luz’s cake creations, you know just how talented she is.

SoC Spotlight Award

Presented to an SoC staff member who has a consistently positive attitude and eagerness to help faculty, students, and/or fellow staff. This person intentionally fosters a positive work environment and community in their department.

Patrick Lile

Patrick Lile has been serving the Department of Radio/Television/Film as a program assistant for the last six years, yet his reach and influence extends far beyond the department, thanks to his “deep institutional knowledge, his affirming ethics of care, and his unparalleled dedication to helping faculty, students and staff.”

Patrick, a filmmaker himself, formally assists in the operations of the MFA in Documentary Media program but is always the first to extend a helping hand to anyone who needs it. Whether it’s ensuring student scholarship money is deposited on time to devising ways to make resources more readily available to students during the pandemic, Patrick, read one nomination, “does these crucial jobs – and countless others – with only occasional departmental recognition…He regularly supports his fellow staff members with pep talks and problem-solving meetings, and, drawing from his own background as a former MFA student, offers valuable advice to our grad students as well as the prospective students we seek to recruit.”

Patrick’s post involves a great number of interactions with offices and units throughout the University, and he handles the complicated matters with attention and care. He never shies away from an opportunity to assist others, even when that work is well outside of his job description.

One nominator said it best: “I am deeply grateful for him and the countless contributions he offers, the endless problems he solves, and the kind, helping hand he lends to all.”

Dina Walters

Dina Walters is the departmental administrator and business manager for the Department of Performance Studies; she has been with Northwestern for nine years.

Dina’s work is pivotal to the operation of a department that has a strong PhD program, so her interactions with students may involve anything from recruitment and planning to reimbursement for conference expenses. Yet her devotion to the department is considerably more holistic.

“She is unflaggingly kind, generous, and thoughtful,” read a nomination. “During the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dina has reached out to students, scheduling departmental ‘happy hours’ on Zoom, or inviting students to make an appointment with her to check in about how we are doing and managing virtual learning.”

Dina is additionally known for her kind demeanor, cheerful attitude, resourcefulness, and dependability.

Said one nominator: “She exudes compassion, attention, and care for everyone she interacts with.”