Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ross School's Mary Ceccanese to receive Johnson staff award

Praised for facilitating high-quality connections among U-M employees, Mary Ceccanese has been named the 2010 recipient of the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence.


For more information on the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence, go to

Ceccanese, research process coordinator of the Office of Tax Policy Research at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, will receive the award during a ceremony at the Ross School of Business on January 25.

  Mary Ceccanese

During the 22 years Ceccanese has worked at U-M, she has expanded her job to become a change agent and educator, in the university and beyond, about the importance of creating and sustaining connections between the staff and faculty, managers and staff, and various other employee groups, colleagues say.

She actively participates in Voices of the Staff, a volunteer-based program offering U-M staff members an opportunity to share ideas and define the campus community issues that matter most to them. She also is involved in the design and delivery of training workshops, mentoring relationships with staff in a variety of units, and the development of original tools for creating positive workplaces. Four years ago Ceccanese initiated a task force at the Ross School called FAST Connections, which promotes high-quality relationships between faculty and staff.

"At this point, it is clear that Mary is providing a highly impactful experience for staff," Jane Dutton, Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business at the Ross School and LSA, wrote in a nomination letter. "In fact, word of mouth about the value of the workshops has spread, with other groups including an educational institution, a media company and the Michigan Assisted Living Association requesting the workshops. She has taught me an amazing amount about how to deliver these ideas with impact in a context (staff-faculty relations) that really matters."

The Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence was established in 2004 as a memorial to Johnson, a staff member from the Office of the Provost who died in 2003. The provost's office created the award to recognize staff members on campus who, like Johnson, have a positive influence in the workplace through their professionalism and personality.

Ceccanese is lauded for encouraging others to collaborate and strive for excellence in all aspects of work.

"Mary encourages collaborations across organizational boundaries," Lynn Wooten, clinical associate professor of strategy, management and organizations at the Ross School, wrote in a nomination letter. "Mary is successful in her collaborative ventures not only because she is inclusive and knows how to facilitate effective team work, but also because her passion and enthusiasm for the tenets of high-quality connections become positively contagious when you interact with her."

Colleagues say Ceccanese shows a willingness to help others and extends an extra effort to take on additional responsibilities.

"Mary's involvement with the Voices of the Staff program has served as the catalyst for her multi-year 'extracurricular' crusade to help others," Melinda Richardson, assistant to the director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the School of Education, wrote in a nomination letter. "Her belief in the benefits and intrinsic rewards of the empirically based research is infectious. … Mary's own positive attitude is a living, breathing testimonial of what a difference a positive outlook can have on a workplace and an institution."

Ross School Professor Joel Slemrod has been Ceccanese's supervisor since 1991. In a nomination letter, Slemrod wrote that he knew Johnson and thought it was extraordinarily meaningful that Ceccanese will receive an honor in her memory.

"I can say from personal experience, and without reservation, that Mary Ceccanese has the same combination of talents and personal attributes that made Candy so wonderful, and so good at her job," wrote Slemrod, professor of economics and the Paul W. McCracken Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy.