University System Honors Tech Staff Members
Georgia Tech staff members celebrate the Institute’s honorees at the Chancellor’s Service Excellence Awards ceremony on Dec. 5. (L-R) Paul Kohn, vice president for Enrollment Services; Sandi Bramblett; Colin Potts, vice provost for Undergraduate Education; Debbie Pearson; Steven Girardot; Steve Wrigley, chancellor of the University System of Georgia; E. Gerome Stephens, associate dean for Student Engagement; Lisa Safstrom; David W. Williamson, director of transportation; Kelly Cross; Juana Cunningham, senior consultant and Georgia Tech’s Service Excellence Ambassador; and John Fuchko, USG vice chancellor.
Georgia Tech employees take the Institute’s motto of “Progress and Service” seriously. This year, two individuals and two teams were honored by the University System of Georgia (USG) for dedication to excellence and service to the campus community and beyond.
The ceremony for the annual USG Chancellor’s Service Excellence Awards took place Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Georgia State University Stadium. The annual awards program honors faculty and staff members from the USG’s 28 colleges and universities.
Lisa Safstrom, campus transportation planner, earned the Silver Outstanding Individual Award. Safstrom came to Tech in 2013 and oversees alternative transportation, commute options, and related programs for Parking and Transportation Services.
“Lisa remains dedicated to continued process improvements and implementing programs that encourage clean commuting travel options,” said Sherry Davidson, director of business operations in Parking and Transportation Services. “She represents qualities that Georgia Tech values such as innovation, leadership, and improved service.”
Safstrom’s favorite part of working at Tech is channeling her passion for sustainable, active transportation options to support the Institute’s motto of Progress and Service.
“The people I work with are fantastic, and I enjoy the collaboration my job entails with different departments and constituencies,” she said.
Sirocus Barnes earned the Bronze Outstanding Individual Award. In his role at Georgia Tech, Barnes oversees the Horizons Program in CEISMC, which provides educational enrichment in math and reading for underserved children.
“Sirocus is committed to making a lasting impact and influence on the next generation of leaders,” said William Jimerson, human resources manager for the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts (formerly educational outreach coordinator for CEISMC). “He prepares innovative events and programming for the students and families his program serves.”
Outside his job responsibilities, Barnes also teaches GT 1000, works with the annual MLK Celebration, volunteers with his fraternity, and serves as president of Valdosta State University’s Atlanta alumni chapter.
Barnes finds inspiration in a quote from Shirley Chisholm — “Service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on this earth” — as well as in Tech’s motto and his colleagues.
“I love working at a place where you have the best and brightest in their respective fields,” he said.
Georgia Tech’s Complete College Georgia (CCG) initiative, led by Steven Girardot, earned the Gold Outstanding Process Improvement Award for Increasing Effectiveness and Efficiency.
CCG is a statewide initiative that began in 2012, charging all USG institutions with increasing retention and graduation rates. Under the leadership of Girardot, associate vice provost for Undergraduate Education; Sandi Bramblett, assistant vice president for Institutional Research and Enterprise Data Management; and Debbie Pearson, retention and graduation manager, Georgia Tech has seen growth in all metrics related to the program.
“Steven, Sandi, and Debbie have not only been diligent leaders in these efforts, but they are student-centered administrators with long histories at Georgia Tech and individuals who care deeply about the individual success of each Georgia Tech student,” said Colin Potts, vice provost for Undergraduate Education.
Since 2012, Georgia Tech’s first-to-second-year retention rate has increased from 93 to 97 percent, and its six-year graduation rate has increased from 79 to 86 percent. Girardot credits the campus support and CCG steering committee members for the success.
“Designing and implementing our Complete College Georgia plan has been a true campus effort involving faculty and staff from nearly every college and unit on campus,” Girardot said. “While I am proud that Tech has achieved historic high retention and graduation rates, I am even more proud that CCG has motivated the development of new resources, programs, and initiatives designed to enhance student success for all undergraduate students.”
The Silver Award for Increased Service to Students went to the Student Engagement team, led by Kelly Cross, youth programs compliance specialist in Legal Affairs and Risk Management. The award was given for Cross’ work in her previous role as assistant director of Student Organizations in Student Life. There, Cross implemented the use of OrgSync, an online management tool that handles registration and management for Tech’s student organizations.
Cross, in partnership with E. Gerome Stephens and the Student Engagement Student Assistant Team, oversaw the research, testing, implementation, and training of the tool for its many constituents, including students, faculty, and staff.
“This process improvement is truly the perfect example of goal five of the Institute’s Strategic Plan — to relentlessly pursue institutional effectiveness,” said John Stein, dean of students and vice president of Student Life. “Kelly worked tirelessly to communicate, train, and support each one of our student organizations, helping them step-by-step through the implementation and helping each be successful.”
Cross spent three years in Student Life before moving to her new role in Legal Affairs and Risk Management in June. She said implementing a technology solution at a technology-focused institution was a challenge, but she found support from colleagues across campus.
“I love working with people and students who work hard and are thoughtful in how they do their jobs,” she said. “There’s a great energy on campus at Georgia Tech. People have the space to be excited about whatever it is they’re excited about and pursue it.”