Princeton employees honored for dedication and service
Six Princeton staff members were recognized for their commitment to excellence and exceptional performance during the University's annual Service Recognition Luncheon on March 16 in Jadwin Gymnasium. In addition, two staff members were honored for their leadership potential.
Those honored as recipients of the President's Achievement Award were: Jessica Hoppe Dağcı, Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology; Kathleen Locke Mannheimer, Office of Career Services; Albert Rivera, Davis International Center; Penna Ann Rose, Office of the Dean of Religious Life; Keller Taylor, Department of Public Safety; and David M. Usa, Facilities.
The award was established in 1997 to recognize members of the support and administrative staffs with five or more years of service whose dedication, excellent work and special efforts have contributed significantly to the success of their departments and the University. The recipients received a framed certificate and a $2,500 award and their names are inscribed on a plaque displayed in the Office of Human Resources. The President's Achievement Award is part of the University's Staff Recognition Program administered by the Office of Human Resources. See photos and an honorees video and a President's Achievement Award video from the Service Recognition Luncheon.
Staff members with 50, 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 15 and 10 years of service were honored during the luncheon; those with 25 or more years of service also received commemorative gifts. A total of 470 University staff members with a collective 8,800 years of service were honored for their dedication this year (see "By the numbers" below).
Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber recognized both the award recipients and the long-serving staff members, praising their talent, skills and experience. He concluded by stating, "This remarkable dedication is inspiring, and I am grateful to you all for your contributions to our University." What follows are excerpts from his remarks.
Jessica Hoppe Dağcı
According to Rebecca Friedman, the acting head of Marquand Library, “Jessica plays a central and indispensable role in almost every significant decision, policy or initiative that occurs in Marquand.” Jessica’s expansive portfolio as the coordinator of Marquand Library Operations and Special Collections includes managing all day-to-day operations of the library and maintaining the extraordinarily valuable items in the rare book vault. Photographer and Digital Imaging Specialist John Blazejewski attests to the remarkable dedication Jessica brings to all of her responsibilities. Whether she is efficiently coordinating facility upkeep or masterfully supervising the work of four support staff members, John calls her “one of the most diligent and organized people that I have had the pleasure to work with here at Princeton.”
Jessica is also responsible for hiring, training and supervising 30-35 students per year, and ensuring excellent and reliable staffing at all times that the library is open. Her students laud the passion and compassion she exhibits in this capacity. Dominique Fahmy, Class of 2017, says, “Jessica is one of the most thoughtful, supportive, reflective and respectful people I know. … She pushes everyone around her to be the best version of themselves they can be.” Amanda Leavall , Class of 2017, is inspired by “the level of excellence Jessica displays in all areas of her work.” She says, “Because [Jessica] is so deeply passionate about her work, she excels unlike anyone else.”
In the words of Professor Esther da Costa Meyer: “Jessica is one of our treasures.” Jessica, we agree! Through your keen intelligence, strong work ethic and innovative problem-solving, you have made a tremendous contribution to the mission of Marquand Library. I am pleased to recognize your outstanding service with this award.
Kathleen Locke Mannheimer
“Kathleen Mannheimer is the ultimate Tiger!” says Mollie Marcoux Samaan, the Ford Family Director of Athletics. “The minute you meet Kathleen you feel how much she loves Princeton and how much she loves what she does.” This infectious enthusiasm animates her work as senior career adviser for Athletics. Kathleen took the initiative to craft this new role from its inception, and she now serves 1,200 student-athletes from 37 Division I varsity teams on our campus. Her hard work makes a transformative difference in these students’ lives. Bob Surace, the Charles W. Caldwell Jr. ’25 Head Coach of Princeton University Football, says: “Her impact is not on statistics, [or] just getting any job. She makes sure … they begin their journey to their life’s calling.
What makes Kathleen truly stand out is her dedication to integrating career events and appointments into grueling athletic schedules. In the last year alone she held 963 one-on-one advising appointments for nearly 40 percent of the student-athlete population. Courtney Banghart, Princeton women’s basketball head coach, says: “Kathleen is selfless in her commitment to our community. … If we have a recruit on campus on a Sunday, she always says yes, ensuring that she’s available to share Princeton with people no matter the day or time.” This commitment extends far beyond her formal responsibilities, into her role as an Academic-Athletic Fellow for the women’s basketball team and an avid fan who travels to cheer on our athletes while they compete at other universities.
Kathleen, Princeton is fortunate to benefit from your exceptional dedication, outstanding contributions and exemplary service to the University. Thank you for all you do, and congratulations on this well-deserved award!
With poise, confidence and humility, Albert guides international scholars and their families through the complicated U.S. immigration process, enabling them to make valuable contributions to our University and our country. According to Maureen Killeen, assistant director of the University Center for Human Values, “the manner in which he treats each individual’s unique circumstances with such care and attention is what really sets him apart.” Karen Gonzalez, department manager of the Spanish and Portuguese department, echoes this sentiment: “Albert is incredibly knowledgeable, and he is also kind and generous with his time. He makes Princeton a place that is accessible and welcoming to so many in the global community.”
Time and again, Albert has demonstrated his ability to provide steady guidance in the midst of uncertainty. Whether providing excellent leadership during the chaotic rollout of the federal travel ban, creating a novel H-1B Visa Site Visit Program, or offering expertise during rollbacks to the Temporary Protected Status for Haitian employees, Albert is known for finding creative solutions when others come to an impasse. He helped to shape University policy in these areas and remained constantly available to all stakeholders throughout these trying times. Lisa Scalice, department manager in physics, observes: “I can think of no other administrator more deserving of this award than Albert. His knowledge, initiative, dedication and aplomb in all that he does while always remaining calm, even humorous, is astounding.”
Albert, your colleagues celebrate your can-do attitude, good nature and innovative approaches to problem-solving. Thank you for sharing each of these special qualities with the Princeton community. It is a pleasure to congratulate you on receiving this award.
Penna Ann Rose
As director of Chapel Music, Penna brings her singular talents to organizing musical activities for the University Chapel and leading the undergraduate Chapel Choir every Sunday. According to Henry S. Horn, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology and a 28-year choir member: “In all of my experience, Penna Rose is THE outstanding choral conductor … and a lifetime role model for every undergraduate she encounters.” Penna crafts moving and meaningful performances that are critical to some of the University’s most important gatherings, such as Opening Exercises, Baccalaureate and the Service of Remembrance, and her work brings thousands of area residents to campus. Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel Alison Boden says that Penna’s contributions go far beyond her formal role: “She is an educator, expanding our understandings of what it is possible for music to communicate, and of who we, the listeners, can dare to be.” In doing so, Dean Boden says, “Penna changes people’s lives.”
Both Dean Boden and Professor Horn are inspired by Penna’s efforts as a steadfast advocate for diversity and inclusion who “espouses the ideal of the Chapel Choir as an intellectual, musical, social and religious home that feels safe for every student.” This spirit of inclusivity is evident in her collaborative partnerships that extend from the Department of Music to the Hindu Life Program. Always creative and resourceful, Penna has also generated many new initiatives such as the Jazz Vespers Service, a partnership with WWFM radio station and the Chapel Choir international tours.
Penna, I am delighted to celebrate your liturgical brilliance, national leadership and transformative contributions to the lives of your students. Thank you, and congratulations!
Whether managing the department’s radio system or overseeing the phone distribution and management system, Keller brings an unflagging optimism and inspiring dedication to the safety of all on our campus. He not only stewards existing University resources, but he anticipates future needs and takes the initiative to solve problems seamlessly. To name just one example, when legislation required the University to vacate a range of radio frequencies, Keller strategically licensed new frequencies that could be used by the University’s existing equipment, thereby avoiding the need for the University to replace its entire radio infrastructure. This saved the University millions, a feat that Executive Vice President Treby Williams described as “emblematic of the entrepreneurial thinking and problem-solving we are seeking from our administrators.” Keller’s colleagues agree. Kevin Gift, the associate director of critical infrastructure, says Keller’s skill “has been invaluable in achieving successful outcomes on projects ranging from E-911 services to DPS call management upgrades to enhanced Forrestal radio communications.” Nick Sutter, chief of the Princeton Police Department, calls Keller “a kind, benevolent and caring human being” who “epitomizes the concept of collaboration and teamwork.”
I, myself, have the privilege of interacting with Keller throughout Reunions. Each year, he develops and executes a minute-by-minute plan for escorting me around campus to upwards of 20 events in under three days. He has been unfailingly effective at keeping me on schedule, and he remains calm in the face of whatever surprises or circumstances Reunions happens to throw at us — and, believe me, Reunions produces a lot of surprising circumstances! He is a pleasure to work with. My traveling companion on the Reunions circuit, Margaret Miller, deputy vice president for alumni affairs, speaks for all of us when she says, “It is clear to me that Keller is devoted to Princeton. I can say without any hesitation that we … feel the exact same way about Keller. We are so thankful for his service to Princeton.” Keller, congratulations on this well-deserved award!
David M. Usa
According to Joe Morgan, director of Facilities Operations: “Dave Usa is an outstanding member of Facilities Operations, who performs his duties as an HVAC lead technician with honor, dedication and a strong sense of responsibility. He is a true team player, who … place[s] others’ needs before his own.” Robert Talarick, HVAC controls shop supervisor and a President’s Achievement Award Winner in 2006, shares this impression, calling Dave “the type of person that … would drop everything to assist you in any way he can.” This commitment to serving others makes Dave an outstanding teacher as well. Ed Manso, an HVAC mechanic who completed an apprenticeship with Dave, says, “No matter how big or daunting the task, he always took on the challenge. Never wavering or willing to settle, I watched as he made the most difficult of jobs seem simple, and all the while guiding or showing me how to accomplish things the correct and professional way.” Whether teaching welding techniques to undergraduate architecture students or completing major campus projects each summer, Dave is known for treating everyone with respect and dignity. His colleagues admire his unrivaled passion and work ethic as well.
Thanks to these exemplary qualities, Thomas Corcoran, associate director of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, says, “Dave is one of the most knowledgeable, hardest working, and dedicated people we have on our staff, and the department and University are lucky to have him within our campus community.” Dave, I am delighted to present you with this achievement award!
Griffin Management Award
In addition to the President's Achievement Award winners, two staff members were honored as recipients of the Donald Griffin '23 Management Award. They were Ma. Florevel Fusin-Wichusen, Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering, and Jordan Tegtmeyer, Office of Career Services. The award was established to honor Griffin — a 1923 alumnus who served as the longtime secretary and general secretary of Princeton's Alumni Council — through a gift from his son James, a 1955 alumnus; his granddaughter, Barbara Griffin Cole, a 1982 alumna; and her husband, Chris Cole, a 1981 alumnus. The award is given by the Office of Human Resources to recognize administrators who would like to develop their leadership and management skills. The winners receive a grant of up to $2,500 to participate in professional activities scheduled within the next year to provide new insights and perspectives, renew motivation and/or enhance skills applicable to their current responsibilities.
Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, vice president for Human Resources, spoke about each Griffin Award recipient, and excerpts of her remarks follow.
Ma. Florevel Fusin-Wichusen
Floe has been employed as the institute manager in the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering, known as PICSciE, since 2008. In his nomination, PICSciE Director Jeroen Tromp described how in the past couple of years, Floe has transformed PICSciE’s education and outreach program and rose to a greater level of managerial leadership evidenced when she spearheaded a nationwide event at Princeton last year. In his nomination, Jeroen also described Floe’s commitment to University-wide leadership and innovation demonstrated by her serving as the founding president of the International Employee Resource Group, which she continues to serve today as its vice president.
Jeroen noted Floe’s many responsibilities, including grants and research administration, education and outreach, finance, website management, human resources, event planning, and facilities management. He explained how she “brings a combination of strategic clarity, sensitivity and tact to her complex managerial tasks, and brings out the best in everyone she supervises.”
By winning the Griffin Award, Floe will be able to register for a four-day program at the Administrative Management Institute offered through Cornell University’s School of Continuing Education. The program is designed to help participants to enhance effectiveness, hone managerial skills and excel within one’s institution. Some of the topics taught are innovation and creativity, strategies for managing operational risk, negotiations in organizations, creating inclusive work environments, and getting the most out of your teams.
Since 2015, Jordan has worked in the Office of Career Services as its senior associate director of finance, IT and assessment. He began at Princeton in 2012 on the Prime Project in the Office of Finance and Treasury. Eva Kubu, the interim executive director in Career Services, described Jordan as someone who had helped her redesign her office’s budgeting processes. She wrote in the nomination: “I quickly recognized Jordan was the kind of professional we needed. He was a leader with a multifaceted skill set, extraordinary analytical and interpersonal abilities, and an unparalleled work ethic.”
Eva described the positive impact Jordan made in Career Services and how “he has emerged as a leader with a national reputation among other career center professionals.” She nominated him because “he has exhibited extraordinary leadership ability in driving multiple complex change processes, building relationships and motivating his team to achieve not only the strategic objectives” of their department and the University but also their own professional and personal goals.
Through the Griffin Award, Jordan will attend a week-long conference at the Management Leadership Institute offered through the National Association of Colleges and Employees Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition. The conference is designed for career services professionals to learn leadership and motivation skills, explore best practices, and examine timely ethical issues. Jordan hopes to further his knowledge of career services across the national landscape, and develop the leadership tools necessary to lead a 21st- century careers services organization.
By the numbers: Service Recognition Luncheon
In addition to the winners of the President's Achievement Award and Donald Griffin '23 Management Award, a total of 470 University staff members with a collective 8,800 years of service were honored for their dedication at the annual Service Recognition Luncheon on March 16. They included:
1 employee with 50 years of service
9 employees with 45 years of service
21 employees with 40 years of service
17 employees with 35 years of service
43 employees with 30 years of service
49 employees with 25 years of service
46 employees with 20 years of service
120 employees with 15 years of service
164 employees with 10 years of service
All employees received certificates of recognition embossed with a special copper-engraved rendering of Nassau Hall by the late Michael Graves. Those with 50, 45, 40, 35, 30 and 25 years of service selected gifts from the Princeton recognition collection at Hamilton Jewelers.