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Meet the 6 recipients of the 2020 Staff Merit Awards at IU Bloomington

Dec 8, 2020

Six Indiana University Bloomington staff members will receive Staff Merit Awards during a virtual reception at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 15.

The annual awards, which honor staff members for outstanding service to IU Bloomington, come from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President and the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources. IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel will present the awards.

Staff Merit Awards are presented in three categories: service staff, support staff and professional staff. Recipients are nominated by people from across campus, and the winners are chosen by a committee of staff and faculty members.

Register to attend the virtual reception.

Professional staff

Thomas Mason


Mason is the “picture of exemplary performance,” Michele Kelmer said in nominating Mason. In addition to excelling at leading the information technology training team, she said he was instrumental in IU’s preparedness and response to COVID-19 by preparing, launching, updating and maintaining the Keep Teaching website.

Mason, a 13-year IU employee, helped launch the Keep Teaching website in fall 2019. The goal was to providing a one-stop reference in case faculty had to quickly move their courses online because of a short disruption, such as a building flooding or a tornado closing a campus, said Kelmer, manager of University Information Technology Services digital education programs and initiatives.

However, the pandemic showed that the Keep Teaching website would need to be a comprehensive resource for technology and pedagogy, said John Gosney, UITS’ director of faculty engagement and outreach for learning technologies.

Mason handled a tsunami of requests for site updates, and he anticipated requests that were likely to come, Gosney said. Mason worked long hours with leadership to sort and categorize requests, said Cinda K. Haff, emergency management and continuity program director in the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology.

IU faculty weren’t the only ones who benefited from Mason’s website updates. More than 50 other institutions that learned about Keep Teaching asked to leverage it for their own use, Haff said.

“He is a consummate professional, and someone you definitely want on your team when work must be done under trying and stressful circumstances,” Gosney said.


Sheri Sherrill

College of Arts and Sciences Finance Office

Sherrill is known for her positive attitude, professionalism, desire to help and willingness to teach others. Colleagues said that’s made her a valuable employee at IU for 36 years, including the last five as a College of Arts and Sciences fiscal officer.

The transition to her present role came during a tough time for the College’s Finance Office, but she kept the morale positive with her encouragement and team spirit, Misty Cummings said in nominating Sherrill. And Sherrill took on challenging supervisory roles that became part of her job because she did them so well.

“Prior to Sheri, the College Finance Office did not have a dedicated, full-time staff member that could provide endowment information and guidance,” said Cummings, academic administration and enrollment management officer in the Finance Office. “Sheri has embraced that role and has become an expert in the protection of the donor intent, and also in helping departments in the management of those funds.”

Sherrill serves as the fiscal officer for several smaller departments in the College and ensures that proper internal controls are in place to safeguard IU funds, said Melissa Ritter, business manager and fiscal officer in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Ritter said Sherrill’s compassion and patience as a mentor gave her the courage to step out of her comfort zone and continue to develop professionally.

“She came to work every day with the most positive, upbeat attitude of anyone with whom I have worked,” Ritter said. “She was always available to answer my questions.”

Support Staff

Kristy Dunlap

School of Optometry

“Indispensable in times of change.” “A rock star during the pandemic!” That’s how colleagues describe Kristy Dunlap’s efforts to help the IU School of Optometry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dunlap, a graduate of the School of Optometry’s optician/technician program, has worked for IU for 16 years, currently as the eyewear purchasing representative. She’s responsible for purchasing, managing inventory and accounting for hundreds of thousands of dollars of eyewear at two optometry clinics.

During the pandemic, though, she’s gone far above and beyond those duties.

Although clinics closed and School of Optometry classes went online in March, someone was needed at the school to receive mail and packages, and to organize incoming personal protective equipment and address urgent needs. Dunlap volunteered to work on site every day in that capacity, Jamie Stoute, the school’s clinic operations manager, said in nominating Dunlap.

Dunlap receives all incoming PPE, maintains the inventory and organizes it for distribution at both clinics. Because many disinfectant solutions have been difficult to obtain, she mixes solutions for use in cleaning the clinics, labs and classes.

“She has done this with poise and kindness, always saying ‘Yes, I can do that,’” said Kevin F. Collins, fiscal officer for the School of Optometry.

Even when both clinics resumed normal operations, Dunlap kept her COVID-19 roles in addition to her normal duties, Stoute said.

“Her willingness to step up even more during the COVID-19 pandemic shows how competent and dedicated Kristy is,” Stoute said.


April Younger

Central Eurasian Studies

While Younger’s official title in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies is administrative assistant to the chair, “go-to person” might be more accurate. She’s worked at IU for 32 years and has served multiple department chairs. She has handled a wide range of duties and taken on additional tasks. And she had to transition to managing everything online, through emails and Zoom calls, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She carries out her duties with exemplary professionalism, giving the best possible impression of Central Eurasian Studies as an academic program, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies as a school and IU Bloomington as a university,” Central Eurasian Studies Department Chair Jamsheed K. Choksy said in his nomination letter.

Younger’s duties over the years have been extensive, including handling payroll and accounts, course scheduling, and faculty and student support, Choksy said. She also handles all organizational aspects of contracts, international travel by visiting scholars, department-endowed lectures, and running virtual lectures and meetings. He said Younger also has streamlined management of the international faculty and student exchanges.

Toivo U. Raun, a professor and former department chair, said Younger’s commitment includes keeping tabs on graduate students after they’ve completed their degrees, and documenting departmental awards and fellowships.

Younger also has a deep knowledge of graduate regulations and is a key ambassador for the undergraduate program, creating advertising materials and displays, and helping students at undergraduate fairs, said Marianne Kamp, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department.

Service Staff

Paul Aydt

Facility Operations

Reliable and versatile, Aydt goes “above and beyond” with his work, according to colleagues in Facility Operations.

Aydt, a carpenter and 31-year IU employee, has helped in many ways. Beyond being a skilled carpenter, he is an instructor in the carpentry apprenticeship program.

“Teaching others is what IU is about, and Paul is a great instructor with his knowledge and friendly, positive attitude,” Facility Operations shop coordinator Danny Martindale said in his nomination letter.

Aydt also helps other shops within Facility Operations. Martindale said Aydt is working in the glass shop to fill the void of someone who retired. He also has worked in the mill, with the masons and in the locksmith shop to help complete projects.

Aydt’s dependability has helped the glass shop complete projects and work requests on time, such as cutting glass, repairing window frames and replacing broken windows, said Thomas Lirot, Facility Operations supervisor.

“He is an outstanding employee who exceeds the performance standards set for an employee,” Lirot added.


Marty Shipley

Facility Operations

“Dependable,” “positive,” “flexible,” “hard working,” “friendly” and “polite” are among the descriptions colleagues shared in nomination letters for Shipley, a 33-year IU custodian who serves the Department of Psychological Brain Sciences and the Kelley School of Business.

Another that stood out was “helpful.” Colleagues described in their letters how Shipley helped the family of a prospective student from Illinois during a summer visit to campus. The family was outside Hodge Hall Undergraduate Center, and Shipley volunteered to give them a tour.

“This speaks to his welcoming personality, but also his pride of Indiana University and knowledge of the Kelley School facilities and programs,” Teresa Kase, Kelley School assistant dean of finance and administration, wrote in her nomination letter.

The father of the prospective student emailed the school to praise Shipley, saying his assistance solidified the feeling that IU was a welcoming community where he would feel comfortable sending his daughter, Kase added.

William P. Hetrick, professor and chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said that when he sent an August Inside IU Bloomington story about Shipley to a listserv, 38 staff and faculty responded with gratitude and their own stories.

“The outpouring of praise and shared recognition that ‘this is who Marty is’ was remarkable,” Hetrick said.

Keith Wright, area supervisor for the Business Area in the Building Services Division, said Shipley is an employee one can lean on, and who communicates positively, whether with a student or management.

“The integrity to which he conducts himself both personally and professionally are unparalleled,” Wright said.

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