By Tiffany M. Grant
As another year ends and the world prepares for what’s next, Facilities Services (FS) is closing out 2023 with all things positive. The department hosted its bi-annual all staff meeting where there were cheers for peers with awards recognition and an informative message from Nadya Mason, the dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago.
Dean Mason addressed the crowd gathered in Mandel Hall as “friends,” establishing a connection right away. When describing the work that she is included in at PME, Dean Mason stated, “We make things that help people.” This resonates with the people in FS who are all about helping and serving the University community including faculty, students, staff, neighbors, and visitors. Dean Mason talked about three technical research themes: Materials systems for sustainability and health, Immunoengineering, and Quantum engineering. With a shared sustainability interest, FS appreciates the work PME has done to advance battery materials to create longer lasting non-flammable batteries that are safer, more powerful and has high energy. She spoke of other impactful research happening that not only build towards solutions with engineering, but also help build the local economy. Dean Mason expressed that having a mentor and internships throughout her career has helped her along the way. FS is on its third mentorship cohort and continues to provide internships to community partners.
During the meeting, 31 employees were recognized for years of service in five-year increments from five to 40 years of service. Graphic Artist, Nathan Bartlett, Executive Assistant, Sue Loncar, IT User Support Specialist, Josh Medina, and Sustainability Manager, Sara Popenhagen were all recognized for special achievements. 29 employees were recognized for receiving a Spot Award. Lead landscape worker, Keith Bayus received the Safety Spirit Award. Sara Popenhagen, sustainability manager, received the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Award. The Keller Team Award went to the Inventory Shop Material Control Coordinators, Malcome Braggs, Antawun Carter and Larry Duncan. Mike Kekelik Sr., structural mechanic foreman was the Keller Award honorable mention and Crishawn Cook, lead landscaper worker received the Keller Award.
After the meeting, the team gathered for its winter party and continued the celebration in Hutchinson Commons. The annual food and toy drives ended the same day with over 100 food items being donated to a neighborhood Greater Chicago Food Depository entity, Hyde Park Kenwood Hunger Programs. Over 100 toys were donated to Come Children’s Hospital. 93 items including winter coats, boots and accessories were donated earlier in the month to Chicago Youth Programs. All donations were made possible because of the kindness and generosity that FS embodies.