Recognition Round-Up

April 20, 2020
A weekly report of Spiders at their best

Each week during the University's modified operating status, HR will collect stories about the amazing work that faculty and staff have done to transition to remote classes and work, to maintain the campus during a pandemic, and to contribute to our greater community. Submit your stories to

Don’t we all have just a little bit more love for Chrome River now that there’s a pandemic?

We would like to offer retrospective gratitude to those involved in the implementation of Chrome River. To Sybil Fellin and Dustin Engels from UR Better for their work in the implementation and system testing; to Taene Britt and Fran Williams and the staff members in PCard and Accounts Payable (Crystal Amado, Sarah Andress, Amy Fultz, and Thelma Stockton) for their endless patience and front-line assistance helping end users navigate Chrome River when it went live; and to Jean Hines and Laurie Melville for their oversight and leadership on the entire project.

- From the Office of Planning & Policy

Do we have to ask permission to carry on remotely? Actually, yes, we do!

A hearty thanks to Melanie Jenkins and the staff in IFX (Office of Institutional Effectiveness) and Financial Aid for working with SACSCOC (our accrediting body) and the Department of Education to seek the necessary waivers for remote instruction and ensuring continued compliance despite all of the changes this pandemic required. With things moving so quickly, it is great to have colleagues who continue to ensure that we have the permissions we need to pursue our mission and ensure that students remain eligible for financial aid.

The most meaningful capstone of college life is Commencement and our hearts break for seniors that the customary ceremonies won’t take place next month. IFX staff have implemented surveys to every graduating senior for their thoughts on how we should celebrate this milestone once our worlds are back on an even keel. To Kim Powell, Lisa Hamiel, Deborah White, and Darrell Tyler – thanks for keeping us compliant and for seeking out ways to celebrate our graduates.

- From the Office of Planning & Policy

How do you bring in a class of 815ish new students without having them set foot on campus?

The Office of Undergraduate Admission, led by Gil Villanueva and Marilyn Hesser, usually welcomes thousands of admitted applicants in April who are in the final throes of the college decision process. For these students, this is the most important decision some will have made in their lives; for parents, it is both a financial and emotional decision – especially in the midst of a pandemic! But how do you get families to choose Richmond without visiting campus? The Communication and Visitor Experience teams of Undergraduate Admission have transformed daily information sessions as well as Experience Richmond and ANSWER, the biggest open house events of the year, into live virtual events so that students and families can visit online with dedicated faculty and staff as well as current students. Take 10’s, virtual events that connect students with faculty and staff in a Q&A format, and Spider Hangouts, hosted by current students, were created along with a video vault that features an assortment of videos that will not only pique the interest of prospective students but will lift the spirits of the campus community. Thanks go out to Rachel Ristow, Danita Salone, Rebecca Buffington, Beth Anne Spacht, Austen Kelso, Lauren Bennet, Priscilla Greene, Jose Garcia, Heather Selby, Linda McKay, Kelli Parks, Johneisha Taylor, and Brenna Denicola from taking on-campus events into the virtual world. The off-campus event team has done the same, particularly for international students who face even more specific challenges this year; gracias to Sandy Roman, Erica Riesbeck, Julie DuPont, Amanda Gearhart, Nicki Pugh, and Kathe Edmonds for helping Richmond reach students around the world.

Not to be outdone, the Office of Scholars and Fellowships, led by Dana Kuchem with the support of Kimberly Lewis and Laurie Mackey, has created a robust series of online engagements to replace the Richmond Scholar Snapshot overnight visits, and they are also launching a series of online tutorials to support fellowship applicants, including Fun with Fulbright!

- From Office of Enrollment Management

Student Employees and Room & Board Refunds

To say that sorting out one-time payments for all student employees is a herculean task is an understatement. But two people on this campus managed to organize and execute payments to 1,251 student employees. Mike Pagano, Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Sharon Condrey, Director of Tax Compliance & Payroll worked as a team to deliver payments to student employees and those on Federal Work Study. Students were paid out over $400,000 for the hours we estimate they might have worked in the second half of the spring term. Sharon and Mike navigated systematic, procedural and regulatory obstacles of this project to do what they always do – put the needs of students first.

In reply, one student wrote: “Thank you so much for this in what is an unforeseen and unconventional time. It means so much to me to be attending a University that cares for its students this way. Thank you!”

Under the guidance and leadership of Chip Bryan and Annemarie Weitzel, the offices of Financial Aid and Student Accounts have worked together to issue Room & Board refunds to students who had to leave campus due to COVID19. This adds up to THOUSANDS of payments with dozens of different calculations to account for students receiving scholarships and grants in addition to other factors impacting their housing and meal plan options.

- From Office of Enrollment Management

How are we going to get students home, you ask… one at a time.

The study abroad team in International Education, led by Michele Cox, worked carefully with each of the 63 students abroad this spring semester to consider their paths home. Utilizing the student emergency fund, Spiders Helping Spiders, staff in the Richmond and Westhampton Deans’ offices have been central points of contact for students needing assistance to get home – either from campus or from study abroad programs across the world. Either through the direct purchase of air and train fares or reimbursing students who could not afford tickets already purchased, staff in RC and WC have fielded requests from nearly 200 students to help them get home. And this is on top of the support they give to students day in and day out. Under the steadfast leadership of deans Mia Reinoso Genoni and Joe Boehman, we’d like to give a shout out to Holly Blake, Kerry Fankhauser, Christy Farmer, Laura Hood, Cindy McGuire, Melissa Ooten and Zara Sibtain in Westhampton College and to Dan Fabian, Jess Procopio, and Courtney Turnbull in Richmond College, as well as our colleagues in International Education Michele Cox, Chris Klein, Patrick Schweiger, Amy Bergmann, and Jennifer Stevens. All have given the University a stellar example of putting students first no matter the circumstances.

- From Lori Schuyler, VP for Planning & Policy and Stephanie Dupaul, VP for Enrollment Management

Campus Operations

Read all recognition of the Campus Operations team here.

HR COVID-19 Resources

HR Interim Policies

HR COVID-19 Benefits Resources

Remote Work Resources

Supervisor COVID-19 Resources


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