FAS Dean Michael D. Smith (from left), congratulates Alice Belser from the Department of the History of Science. Belser’s brother, Jeff, joined her at the ceremony, which recognized 44 FAS employees with the Dean’s Distinction award.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

FAS recognizes outstanding staff members

6 min read

Forty-four are honored with Dean’s Distinction awards

To fully appreciate the work that went into the relocation of Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB), you only need to look as far as the numbers.

All told, the nearly three-year project resulted in the renovation of nearly 170,000 square feet of space and the relocation of 29 faculty research groups — including 565 faculty, students, and staff — and a menagerie made up of 50 frogs, 77 butterflies, 3,300 zebrafish tanks, and some 6,000 mouse cages.

In acknowledgement of the effort that brought the project to completion on time and under budget, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) team that led the project was recognized on March 1 with the first Dean’s Distinction award given to a team.

“The primary benefit is the location of the SCRB program in the heart of the FAS science community, but in addition to overseeing the design and construction, the team included the SCRB administration and coordinated with faculty to ensure the appropriateness and efficiency of the new facility,” said Michael Lichten, associate dean for Physical Resources and Planning, in nominating the team. “Their relocation and planning made it possible for research groups to continue working with minimal disruption to their work.”

The team members were among the 44 FAS employees honored at the third annual Dean’s Distinction awards ceremony and reception held last week in the Faculty Room of University Hall. FAS Dean Michael D. Smith thanked the recipients for their service and credited their work for allowing FAS to thrive.

“I want to personally thank each and every one of our 44 recipients,” Smith said. “Whether you streamline or create new systems, connect with students, serve as the public face of a program, invent ways to preserve crucial funds, expand services, or identify solutions, you are what make it possible for Harvard to carry out its mission. You are the people who keep the Harvard ecosystem, from museums to houses to people to programs, healthy.

“Eight of our recipients today are also, for the first time, coming to us as a team,” Smith added. “With this new category, we recognize the importance of successful collaborations, which are so often the driver of progress across this institution.”

In addition to offering congratulations to the award winners, Dean for Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan offered thanks to the many colleagues, supervisors, and customers who nominated staff members, saying such positive support is critical in the workplace.

“There is tremendous evidence that positive recognition is one of the most important elements of a healthy and engaged workforce, and leadership that gets that link should also be celebrated,” she said. “I’m here to say thank you, first and foremost, to the Dean’s Distinction recipients themselves, but also to the colleagues, co-workers, or customers who nominated all those whose names were put forward.”

Currier House Master Richard W. Wrangham, the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, was among those who nominated Currier House administrator Patricia Gnazzo Pepper for providing a steadying hand during a year marked by dramatic personnel changes.

“In 2011, Currier House transitioned from interim House masters to its regularly appointed House masters, while also transitioning among three separate resident deans,” Wrangham said. “All this personnel movement in key positions could have created real turmoil in the House, but Patricia served as the bedrock, providing consistent counseling and guidance to students, tutors, and staff.

“Her deep knowledge of College policies and Currier traditions, along with her extensive network of colleagues and her wisdom and humor all proved to be essential resources to the House during this time of tremendous change,” Wrangham continued. “It’s a wonder the carpet outside her office didn’t wear out, given the constant traffic into her office with students and staff looking for answers to questions that spanned the full spectrum of academic, residential, social, extracurricular, and work life, or just looking for reassurance, a familiar face, and a welcoming smile.”

Although she admitted the recognition is nice, Pepper said what was most important to her about it was the knowledge that those she works with took time from their day to offer their congratulations.

“The fact that the two constituents I work with the most took the time out of their crazy days to do this means more to me than actually getting anything,” Pepper said. “But ultimately, the students are the focus, and my job gives me an opportunity to see these young people grow up and become amazing older people.”

In total, the 44 Dean’s Distinction honorees were chosen from 123 nominations, submitted from 57 FAS departments and units. Nominees ranged from those with one to 41 years of service at Harvard; more than 30 percent are members of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical workers (HUCTW).

 The Dean’s Distinction recipients

Arthur Barrett, Harvard University Information Technology

Alice Belser, Department of the History of Science

Merrick Lex Berman, Center for Geographical Analysis

Catherine Bowen, Committee on the Study of Religion

Miguel Casillas, Office of Physical Resources and Planning

Tez “Bank” Chantaruchirakorn, Harvard College Program in General Education

Sheila Coveney, Harvard College Freshman Dean’s Office

Carol Davis, Department of Physics

Irvin Dumay, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Paul Dzus, Center for European Studies

Sarah Elwell, Division of Science

Genevieve Fisher, Peabody Museum

Gary Geissler, Department of Athletics

Gretchen Gingo, Department of Sociology

Carol Gonzaga, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Thomas Hammond, Language Resource Center

Renate Hellmiss, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Walter Hryshko, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Nada Hussein, Harvard College Library

Marek Kornilowicz, Harvard College Library

Marlon Kuzmick, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning

Heather Lantz, Division of Arts and Humanities

Lorraine Maffeo, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Charlotte Mallio, Research Administration Services

Irene Minder, Department of Mathematics

Andrea-Marie Moore, Harvard College Observatory

Jeff Neal, Harvard Public Affairs and Communications

Anthony Pacillo, Harvard Yard Operations

Patricia Gnazzo Pepper, Currier House

Alison Pirie, Museum of Comparative Zoology

Christopher Plumb, Harvard College Financial Aid Office

Susan Rose, Office of Finance, FAS

Mark Seibring, Office of Human Resources, FAS

Rosanne Sheridan, Harvard College Library

Suzanne Spreadbury, Division of Continuing Education

Bari Walsh, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

SCRB project team recipients of the Dean’s Distinction

Stephen Anderson, Office of Physical Resources and Planning

James Costello, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Sharalee Field, Division of Science

Petrina Garbarini, Office of Physical Resources and Planning

John Hollister, Office of Physical Resources and Planning

Kathryn Link, Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

Vincent Pafumi, Office of Physical Resources and Planning

Jay Phillips, Office of Physical Resources and Planning