2018 Outstanding Employees Awards


Shelly Heller
Administrative assistant, Office of the President

In just over 18 months Shelly Heller has changed the president’s office and it has been noticed by all who interact with this office. Shelly welcomes everyone warmly and does everything she can to make the individual feel supported, special and valued.  She patiently listens, whether the visitor is a vice president, a student or a member of the public.  She is friendly with everyone and always goes the extra mile to figure out how she can help the person who is calling on the phone, emailing or standing in front of her desk.

It is extremely important that the president’s assistant be friendly, sympathetic, and helpful because this person is truly the Ambassador for the University.  She is often the first person an important dignitary, donor or distressed student encounters.  I have witnessed time after time, Shelly exerting a calming influence over someone who is clearly upset.  People are always telling me how much they like Shelly and enjoy working with her.

Like a true ambassador, she also makes sure things work on the other side by making sure I know who needs attention and how I can best meet their needs.  Without her support I could not function effectively in dealing with the multiplicity of issues and problems that come to the President’s office every day.

Everyone at the University knows Shelly’s beautiful smile will brighten their day.


Michelle Krone
Office administrative specialist, College of Management

Michelle Krone is a tremendous asset to the College of Management.  She consistently demonstrates dedication to her job, great customer service skills, and a very enthusiastic attitude. Her work is done thoroughly and the finished product always looks good because of her  creativity and ability to make documents look professional. Michelle shows initiative and looks for new and improved ways to get things done. She is always willing to step in and offer assistance no matter what the project, task or event is. When Michelle is involved, we know the planning will be thorough and complete.

Michelle has also demonstrated skills outside of her job duties such as her mechanical abilities. It is not beyond her to fix circuit breakers and to have a screw driver handy to take apart a broken drawer.

Michelle makes the College of Management shine and she has earned a great reputation throughout the university.  Her dedication extends beyond the College of Management.  She is an avid volunteer and has assisted at many graduation ceremonies. When there was a vacancy in the Office of the Provost, she temporarily served as the administrative assistant but we were thrilled when she wanted to return to COM.

Some of Michelle’s work is done behind the scenes and some of it is not – but whatever work Michelle is performing, we know it will be outstanding.

Bryan Litsey
School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Coordinator and Advisor

The School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice is truly excited about nominating Bryan Litsey for the Behind the Scenes Award.  Everyone in the department continues to be in awe of Bryan because of his tireless work ethic and humane approach.  Furthermore, his commitment to our students, the department, and the university at large is remarkable and genuine.

Bryan works endlessly to support and implement a curriculum revision at the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.  While the faculty of the School of Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice have worked over the past two years to prepare for a roll-out of new learning objectives mandated by the MN Board of Peace Officers Standards and Training, they have reaped the benefits of Bryan’s performance. Bryan consistently and tirelessly advocates for the law enforcement major, while representing student needs, considering the profession, and respectively collaborating with faculty and staff.

As an advisor and coordinator, he is always open to meeting with our students and anyone interested in learning about the profession.  Students who visit with Bryan often state that they know he was present and they have been heard.  He eagerly participates in our community meetings, and volunteers to serve on various university and department committees.  He is a strong presence in our department because of his humility.  The integrity of our program could not have survived if not for his wisdom and patience.

Lucy Peterson
Office and administrative assistant, College of Sciences

Lucy Peterson does an incredible job in managing the Information and Computer Science department’s administrative tasks.  Lucy is just a four-letter short name but the person carrying the name has a long list of qualities that makes her deserving of a “Behind the Scenes” award.

Let us define “LUCY”:

L = Learned; during my last four years at Metro State, I haven’t seen any person as knowledgeable and skillful as Lucy. She knows the ins and outs of her responsibilities, has the answer to many questions, and is capable of providing solution to any problem.

U = Unflappable; Lucy goes an extra mile to provide her services to the university community. She makes no distinction in providing quality support regardless of whether or not the request is coming from inside or outside the department. Irrespective of her immense daily workload, I have never seen her losing her composure and getting upset on anyone.

C= Conscientious; Lucy has a desire to do her work well; she is very thorough when completing a task and makes sure there are no loose ends.  Being a very busy faculty member, I lost track of some pending work but Lucy did not lose track – she had what I needed.  She is just like this “Big Sister” who efficiently manages all the department faculty, and their tasks.

Y = Yes, Yes, and Yes; In my short tenure here at Metro State, I have never heard the word No from Lucy’s mouth. Whenever she is asked to do something, the answer is always a big “YES.”

Many in the department appreciate Lucy’s outstanding work and enthusiastically nominate her for a “Behind the Scenes’ Award

INNOVATOR TEAM AWARD (Accessibility Audit Team)
Tam Knapton — TRIO Advisor/Retention Specialist
Peter Gawtry — Professional Writing Tutor
Ruth Zietlow — Professor
Mai Her — OAS Sr., Equal Opportunity & Diversity Office
Mark Lenling — Environmental Health and Safety Officer
Craig Morris — Chief Diversity Officer/Accessibility Audit Co-Chair
Kristin Jorenby — Director, Center for Accessibility Resources/Accessibility Audit Co-Chair

This outstanding group of individuals came together through their common interest in creating a more accessible, welcoming and inclusive environment for all people at Metropolitan State University.  They each represent not only their functional work areas, but also their respective bargaining units.  The group gave a large amount of their time before, during, and after the winter break to go to each of our campus locations and evaluate all kinds of spaces for accessibility.  The goal being to create a document that will be used by the administration for decision-making and planning, as well as for students and other community members.

The group will be presenting the results to the Equity & Inclusion  Council as well as leadership. Their dedication and thoughtful insights related to this effort should be recognized by the University community as they will be instrumental in helping us all in our work to live up to our mission to provide accessible, high-quality liberal arts, professional, and graduate education to the citizens and communities of the metropolitan area, with continued emphasis on underserved groups, including adults and communities of color.


Natalie Bearth
Office Manager, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs

In July 2016 Metropolitan State University established the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs, comprised of the Departments of Psychology, Public and Nonprofit Leadership, Human Services, Social Work, and the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.  As part of this reorganization, Natalie Bearth went from the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Office Manager to the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Office Manager.

This appointment greatly expanded the scope of Natalie’s responsibilities and entailed some extraordinary challenges. First, a whole new set of administrative systems had to be put into place to incorporate this new constellation of departments and programs—requiring, in many instances, revising previously established practices. Second, academic support assignments had to be adjusted to accommodate new demands, with college-wide consistency in management and supervision. Third, a greatly expanded budget had to be instituted, monitored, and managed. Lastly, Natalie was in the unenviable position of assisting a new dean who had a lot to learn about the college, its programs, its faculty and staff, and University administrative systems in general.

Natalie has met all of these challenges, and many more – like working at three different campuses (St. Paul, Midway and Brooklyn Park). She continues do it all with positive energy, calm, hard work, and respect for all persons in the college. It was a huge job, and she did it willingly and extraordinarily well and clearly demonstrated her ability to be flexible, creative, and patient in the midst of change.


Amber Williams
Office Manager, Library and Information Services

Amber has been a calm, consistent, and professional presence in the library since she was hired last summer. From the very start, she has gone the extra mile and does what needs to be done to ensure the library is able to carry out its mission to students, faculty, staff, and the Dayton’s Bluff community.  Perhaps most notably, Amber has been search support for a year of intense hiring activity in the library. She has supported at least five (5) search committees within the library and she is also working on upcoming library searches. While it is not unusual for an office manager to provide search support, this number of searches has required an enormous amount of detail-oriented coordination on Amber’s part along with the ability to be flexible and patient.  Everyone that Amber has worked with during these searches comments on her positive attitude and ability to get things done.

Amber has a prominent role as a member of the library’s events committee. As one of many examples, she helped plan and coordinate February’s Black History Month film series. Pulling off such a series was no easy task. To make the events successful, Amber worked with the President’s Office, the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, the Eastside Freedom Library, and many other university departments, external organizations, and individuals.

Additionally, Amber is transforming the culture within the library.  She practices kindness daily and treats all library faculty, staff, and patrons with dignity and respect.  Amber clearly deserves recognition for a year of outstanding work. Her enthusiasm is unmatched and her warmth and unflagging positive attitude have had a significant impact on the library and beyond.  We thank you Amber!!


“The Extraordinary Performer” Award  
Mark Newfield
Office Administrative Specialist, College of Management

Ask anyone in the College of Management about Mark Newfield and you’ll hear a common response:  Mark is the quintessential service-minded team player. He is efficient to a fault, exceptionally responsive, and always at the ready to help faculty, COM students, and those on his administrative team.  He provides outstanding service to our international students in the Taiwanese cohorts. These students have come to rely on him for vital assistance with everything from navigating through our program to finding their way in the Twin Cities.  He is proactive in his support of the program, an excellent communicator, and always a willing collaborator.

Mark also plays a pivotal role in providing administrative services for faculty, and particularly for our community faculty.  Our community faculty often need clerical resources and services such as copying, gaining access to their classrooms, campus directions, and tech support.  Mark is their indispensable “go-to,” and he is regularly sought out by community faculty for information and administrative services, and sometimes just to be a good listener.

After more than a decade of commitment to excellence in the College of Management and throughout the University, Mark is richly deserving of award recognition.

“Bee Excellent in All Things Award”
Bee Xiong
Information Commons Specialist, Library

Bee Xiong is an incredible asset to the university and to the library. He has an excellent professional demeanor, strong technical skills, and demonstrates kindness in how he interacts with students and other patrons. On a given day, he may help a student troubleshoot the hardware on their laptop, help a professor crunch numbers in SPSS, and help a neighborhood resident struggle to create their first LinkedIn profile. He is able to easily switch between users of various skill levels, juggle competing demands, and do so while never losing his calm. He is well known to our library patrons for his friendliness and his ever-present smile.

He has also helped us on multiple occasions troubleshoot technology used in the library or for student activities. In some cases, he’s suggested solutions that improved upon our initial request, because the technical possibilities were unknown. In another instance, when we mentioned that a student needed help with a task, he not only helped the student but also created a handout that we could give to other patrons with similar needs.

Bee is our most-senior Information Commons Specialist at the library, and it shows in his ability to help patrons and library staff.  He is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve our services, as well as create more efficient procedures. Bee is an innovative, design-minded employee who does not shy away from technical challenges or complex patron needs.  In short, Bee is awesome. Everyone should be like Bee.

Student Worker Supreme Award
Lisa Thao
Student Employee, Center for Faculty Development

Lisa Thao is an absolutely outstanding student worker!   She has facilitated the work of the Center for Faculty Development for the past two years.  The Center for Faculty Development is a very busy place, and Lisa is at the heart of maintaining its work and fostering its success.

Lisa assists faculty with copying needs, and downloading the driver on the computer that “speaks” to the faculty member’s StarID, she replaces toner, and takes care of the paper jams.  Faculty enjoy talking with her and do not hesitate to seek her assistance. She is always polite and helpful. In her quiet way, we have come to realize that still waters run deep.  We can have come to realize we can count on her and trust she will follow through on tasks.

Lisa is industrious and demonstrates initiative. She sees what needs to be done and does it. I, and all those who need her help, can count on her.

Lisa is motivated by excellence and by continuous quality improvement. She has helped make significant improvements in conference and orientation registration procedures, signage, and general flow of all of our events.  She doesn’t hesitate to ask questions or share concerns if she thinks a process, or anything for that matter, could be improved upon. Lisa will be graduating at the end of fall semester. We will miss her presence and work so much. She is one in a million and embodies a Student Worker Supreme supremely.