EEB is delighted to announce that Nancy Smith, EEB administrative manager, has won the Work/Life Champion Award for Supervisors.

The U-M Work/Life Resource Center’s second annual awards recognize U-M supervisors who promote work-life balance through consistent recognition of and responsiveness to their employees' professional and personal lives.

“We received more than 100 nominations containing dozens of stories detailing the extraordinary efforts supervisors, at all levels throughout the university, make to promote work/life balance,” said Jennie McAlpine, director of Work/Life Programs.

“This award is our opportunity to show our gratitude as a community. By celebrating these supervisors we recognize that a healthy balance is one thing that helps make Michigan a great place to work.”

Smith received nominations from six individuals in EEB, including staff and faculty. Amber Stadler, business manager, and Bethany Christoff, graduate program assistant/recruiter, wrote about how Smith is flexible with staff schedules to accommodate bus, carpool or childcare needs.

“Nancy addresses problems promptly and even in a predominately negative situation, tries to find a positive outcome for all parties involved,” Stadler wrote. “She thinks outside the box, pointing out other points of view and works with the staff members individually to help them learn from their mistakes.”

“Within my first few weeks of working in EEB we had a surprise pumpkin carving day (on Halloween) and pumpkin pie at lunch,” wrote Christoff. “This was a fitting introduction to describe the atmosphere of our office. Nancy appreciates the need to have fun together as a means of strengthening our work team and appreciating our diverse personalities and strengths.”

“Each year, we play ‘admini-golf,’ which is mini golf around the administrative office,” wrote Sonja Botes, executive  secretary, and Professor and (at the time) Acting Chair Mark Hunter. “Teams develop ‘holes’ within their personal working space, and then compete for prizes. This effort is greatly enjoyed by all of the staff and builds remarkable camaraderie. We laugh a lot. It sounds funny, but this is a remarkably effective team-building exercise.”

“Nancy has also been very supportive of her staff seeking out individual professional development opportunities,” wrote Christoff. “Nancy provides her staff with a significant sense of ownership for their areas of responsibility. It is evident that she has trust in our decision making and ability to successfully complete our jobs without hovering over our shoulders.”

Cheri Brooks, former contract and grants specialist, wrote, “One way that Nancy humanizes EEB’s administrative work environment is by inviting faculty to attend monthly administrative staff meetings to discuss their research.  These faculty presentations provide staff with a better understanding of the research goals that many of us support through our efforts.”

Gail Kuhnlein, communications specialist, wrote, “Over the years, when my sons or my parents had various health issues, Nancy has been totally accommodating with my schedule to make it work out on a work and personal level. This is invaluable to me, reducing stress at an already stressful time. She used to work in a cardiac care unit and knows that our work issues are not life or death matters and that helps us all keep our perspective.”

Hunter and Botes wrote, “this past year, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology merged with the UM Museum of Zoology and UM Herbarium. As you can imagine, there was some concern among the staff of the merging units as to what their futures might hold. Nancy met individually with the staff of all units (who now all report to her) and has made the transition as easy as possible for everyone. She has built trust and cooperation among a large group of people. She has done this with considerable skill and sensitivity. The merger would have been much more difficult without her. Rather than a source of conflict, we now all view this as simply our family getting bigger.”

Staff at all university campuses and UMHS nominated 140 faculty or staff supervisors for the award. Award recipients received a gift certificate and plaque, and were honored at the annual Work/Life Resource Center “Connecting the Dots” Conference on Oct. 4, 2012. Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources, presented the awards.

Caption: from left: Stanley E. Henderson, vice chancellor, Enrollment Management and Student Life, UM-Dearborn; Trey Williams, director, Student and Academic Services, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; Benjie Johnson, chief officer, Revenue Cycle Management, U-M Health System; Nancy Smith, administrative manager, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and Josie Aguirre, director physician and consumer communications, Public Relations and Marketing Communications. Photo courtesy Human Resources Communications.