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Updated 4:00 PM May 18, 2004



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Research administration staff award winners announced

Four staff members will be honored at a May 18 reception in the Michigan League under a campus research administration awards program sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR).

"We have many dedicated staff who play important roles in support of our vast and complex research enterprise," says Fawwaz Ulaby, vice president for research. "All of the awardees have served their units and the University in an exceptional manner, and I believe it is extremely important that we recognize these efforts."

The Distinguished Research Administrator Award honors people from any unit at the University who have demonstrated distinguished service exemplifying the goals of professional research administration.

Three staff members were selected to receive this award for 2004: Betty Cummings, administrative manager, Solid-State Electronics Laboratory (SSEL), Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), College of Engineering (CoE); Francine Hume, departmental administrator, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Medical School; and Heather Offhaus, director, Grants Office, Medical School. Each winner receives an honorarium and an award plaque.

The OVPR Exceptional Service Award honors staff members from OVPR or any of the units that report to the office. The award recognizes people involved in any area of work who have made outstanding contributions that go beyond the ordinary fulfillment of the position's duties. Jane Ritter, administrative assistant II, OVPR, will receive the award this year, including an honorarium and plaque.

The reception will be held in the Michigan League Ballroom, 3:30-5 p.m. May 18, with the awards presentation at 4 p.m. The winners were selected by Ulaby, with assistance from an awards advisory committee.

The committee members were: Virginia Wait, EECS, CoE; Laurie Staples, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research (ISR); Patricia Schultz, Office of Research, Dental School; Deborah Eadie, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; and Keith Newnham, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Laboratory.

Cummings has served the University for more than 35 years. In 1966, she was hired as a secretary for the Electron Physics Laboratory, the SSEL's predecessor. She was theadministrator for EECS from 1980-86, when she managed the many challenges faced during the department's move from Central to North Campus. In 1987, Cummings moved to her current position. SSEL is one of the largest labs on campus and requires Cummings to manage a large operation with many sophisticated facilities and many users from inside and outside the University. Cummings also makes important contributions elsewhere at the University, serving the CoE safety program and fund-raising efforts. "She is an incredible role model who has contributed in many ways to the continuing excellence of the University of Michigan," one nominator said.

Hume began working at the University in 1985 as a research secretary for the Kresge Hearing Research Institute. She later became the institute's business manager. In 1996, Hume moved to the Department of Biological Chemistry, where she applied her administrative skills until 2000, when she moved to her current position. Hume has helped guide the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology through major growth and reorganization of both research activity and departmental administration. Her knowledge has proven to be a resource tapped by her academic department and her colleagues across campus. She served on the Medical School's quality improvement team and a campus committee exploring electronic research administration, along with countless informal consultations with other research administrators. One nominator noted, "She can simultaneously define a problem, suggest a solution and joke about the entire situation in a way that puts everyone at ease."

Offhaus began working in the Medical School Grants Office 10 years ago as a temporary employee. The craft of research administration piqued her interest so much that she has worked there ever since, rising to her current position as director. The office processes all research proposals originating from the 1,400 Medical School faculty members, an activity comprising the highest volume and highest dollar value in proposals and awards of any unit on campus. Offhaus must work with many constituencies in the Medical School and elsewhere on campus and she chairs a monthly administrators' meeting involving the lead research administrators from across the school. "The cooperation fostered by Ms. Offhaus improves the school's ability to successfully compete in interdisciplinary projects where administrative cooperation is a necessity," noted one nominator. She also has helped in the development of new and powerful software tools that the Medical School uses to collect data and track the success of its research grants.

Ritter came to the University in 1995, beginning with theDepartment of Psychiatry. In 1998, she moved to OVPR as an executive secretary and was promoted to her current position in 2000. Ritter has undertaken a range of duties and tasks, including providing administrative support to several senior level administrators, instituting methods to gather and disseminate information, and serving as key support person for the complex Ford Reactor decontamination and decommissioning project. Her nominators highlighted the effective job by Ritter in leading the preparations for a major OVPR-sponsored conference in November 2003 about nanoscience and technology. "Jane is clearly someone who is not satisfied with just doing what is expected of her," wrote one supporter. "Instead, she is obviously invested in trying to excel in each detail of a project or program."

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