Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, June 11, 2012

2012 OVPR staff recognition award recipients announced

The Vice President for Research (OVPR) will honor three U-M staff members for outstanding research service. Jackie Hoats Shields will receive the OVPR Exceptional Service Award, and Cathy Thibault and Sharon Vaassen each will receive a Distinguished Research Administrator Award.


Jackie Hoats Shields


Cathy Thibault

  Sharon Vaassen

"At $1.24 billion, U-M's research budget is one of the largest of any university in the world," says Stephen Forrest, vice president for research. "These awards call attention to the energy, skill and dedication it takes to administer such a complex and successful enterprise."

This year's awards program and reception will take place from 3:30-5 p.m. June 22 in the Dorothy L. and Harry E. Chesebrough Auditorium Lobby of the Chrysler Center on North Campus. The awards presentation will begin at 4 p.m. with a reception to follow. The event is open to the public.

The Distinguished Research Administrator Award honors individuals from any unit at the university who have demonstrated distinguished service exemplifying the goals of professional research administration. The Exceptional Service Award honors staff members from OVPR or any of the diverse units from across campus that report to OVPR. This award recognizes individuals involved in any area of work who have made outstanding contributions that go beyond the ordinary fulfillment of position duties.

Hoats Shields, regulatory compliance specialist senior, joined U-M in 1988 and broadened her skills since joining the OVPR team in 1992. Her experience has enabled her to administer two compliance committees with precise efficiency and overall improvement of administrative structure. Her interactions with colleagues across campus are professional and supportive, and her knowledge of compliance and regulation is invaluable, nominators say. She was cited for exemplifying outstanding service and her skills are highly valued in OVPR and used in numerous ways.

Thibault, assistant director for administration in the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research (ISR), joined UM-Flint in 1992 and the Ann Arbor campus in 2001 as ISR director of business operations. Her experience in accounting, payroll, proposals and contracts prepared her for current responsibilities to oversee financial, administrative, human resource, pre- and post-award research, and facility activities of a $70 million interdisciplinary social science research enterprise comprising more than 130 faculty, 300 staff and upwards of 1,000 contingent field interviewers. She always has been in support of research administration throughout her career, and this breadth of experience has allowed for a greater impact across the university, nominators say.

Vaassen, research administrator in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, has been with U-M since 1986, when she began as an administrative assistant in the School of Nursing. In 1989 she joined orthopaedic surgery as the first department research administrator. Currently, she oversees a core staff of 12 and provides research support for the department consisting of more than 30 clinical and basic-science faculty. Her contributions to the department range from budget development, grant coordination and project management to a variety of other responsibilities. She has been cited for her outstanding organizational and interpersonal skills, and played a pivotal role in support of multidisciplinary activities to help biomedical engineering flourish and engage the scientific community to include various faculty within 27 departments and six schools at U-M.

The 2012 winners were selected by Forrest based on recommendations from an awards selection committee that includes: Laura Bowden, Biostatistics; Drew Buchanan, Dearborn Research and Sponsored Programs; Catherine Liebowitz, ISR; Scott Stanfill, School of Social Work; and Peggy Westrick, LSA Research Office.