Rae Ann Franks and Kelsey Kalgreen Named 2022 Staff Excellence Award Recipients

After a year marked by transition, the 2022 Staff Excellence Awards celebrated the strong and resilient campus community at Kent State University at Stark. 

“It may well be that there is light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel,” Denise A. Seachrist, Ph.D., dean and chief administrative officer, told staff gathered at the Fine Arts Building for the April 26 ceremony. “However, many of us can still see it in our rearview mirror and recognize that we have not emerged unscathed. For all that we have been through, I want to offer my sincere gratitude for your hard work, dedication and resilience.”

Staff returned to a fully in-person workplace last summer after the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a remote working environment throughout much of 2020 and the first half of 2021. 

The 2021-2022 academic year also was marked by tragedy for staff, who lost a dear friend and colleague, Debra “Debbie” Schneider, on Feb. 26 after a valiant battle against cancer. 

A longtime member of the Stark Campus community, Schneider had recently celebrated 40 years of service at Stark, which is over half of the campus’ 75-year history. For the past seven years, she worked alongside Seachrist as her administrative assistant. 

Schneider was honored with a special recognition at the Staff Excellence Awards on Tuesday. 

Also recognized was Rae Ann Franks, Academic Affairs senior secretary, as the 2022 Staff Member of the Year. Franks worked alongside Schneider in the dean’s office. 

“With the passing of a very close and dear colleague, she persevered and took on the additional workload and kept the dean’s office running efficiently,” Seachrist said in honoring Franks with the award. “Described as ‘the heart of our campus,’ she is always there, always ready to go the extra mile and to do so with grace and expertise. She is always available, dependable and conscientious.

“Her professionalism is obvious, but it’s her positivity, even during the most stressful times, that truly shines through.”

Nominators said Franks shows an extraordinarily strong commitment to the campus by working efficiently on course creation, student registration, as well as the paperwork required to hire a new full-time faculty member or adjunct.

Kelsey Kalgreen, a clinical mental health counselor, was named the 2022 Administrator of the Year. 

“Kelsey worked tirelessly during the pandemic to meet the needs of the people she serves, even in a remote environment,” said Seachrist in naming Kalgreen the year’s top administrator. “On several occasions, she would stay with a student in distress to make sure that student experiencing an emergency was attended to until they received the care they needed. And then, she would thoughtfully follow up, to make sure the student was continuing to receive the help they need.”
Nominators said Kalgreen is always thinking of ways to promote the services she provides, offering invaluable programs that promote mental health throughout the year.

“She exhibits a ‘can do’ work ethic, is dependable, conscientious and caring,” they wrote. “She gives 100% each and every day. She is an excellent listener, someone who is passionate about her job.”

This year’s Staff Excellence Selection Committee was led by 2021 Staff Excellence Award winners Rob Kairis and Mary Shank and included the following representatives: staff: Ellen Reber and Mike Shipe; administrators: Kaley Smitley-Harris, Ron Hoagland and Darcy McBride; faculty: Paul Bagavandos, Lindy Beckley, Amy Damrow, Cherie Mountain, Thomas Norton Smith, Carrie Schweitzer and Brad Shepherd.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 26, 2022 - 4:29pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 26, 2022 - 4:29pm
Melissa Seeton Griffy