Staff recognized at annual college barbecue

Since 1997 the awards have recognized staff members who have excelled in the performance of their duties as well as promoted teamwork and inspired excellence in others. Staff are nominated by their department and selected by an advisory committee.

This year,

  • Heather Beckner, fiscal analyst, Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience
  • Kaitlin Eller, office manager, Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
  • Connie Fraser, veterinary technician, Neurology
  • Kat Jackson, academic coordinator for undergraduate education
  • Gregory Nordin, lab manager, Clinical Pathology
  • Erin Patterson-Semler, patient services coordinator, Small Animal Internal Medicine and
  • Jordan Willett, academic coordinator, Veterinary Clinical Sciences

were presented individual awards. The college communications team was recognized with the group award.

Beckner was nominated by her department colleagues Laura Kinslow and Becky Morton for her creativity, dedication, and teamwork.

“When I have asked her for help or to talk through a question, she has always made time. When a grant isn’t funded or something doesn’t go as hoped, she is just as disappointed as the faculty because she truly cares about their success. Our department is a positive place to work largely due to Heather’s compassion, competency, and exemplary work ethic,” Kinslow wrote in her nomination letter.

Morton added, “Even though she has a lot on her plate, she always makes time to help others learn their jobs or come up with creative solutions for problems. Her skill has developed in working with faculty such that she can now assist them with thinking out of the box to resolve financial problems they may be encountering.”

Eller came to WADDL in 2017 as an entry level office assistant. She quickly mastered the duties and readily assumed new, more complex responsibilities.

Eller was nominated by her supervisor, Kathleen Hagen.

“Kaitlin volunteered to join the Sponsored Program Services Pilot Project for the College of Veterinary Medicine and learned how to set up accounts and cleared the backlog for the entire college within a few months. She is a quick learner and has a unique ability to learn complex and esoteric processes,” Hagen wrote in her nomination.“As WADDL rolls out our new Laboratory Information Management System, CoreOne, Kaitlin has taken the lead in verifying the business functions of the new system and is working with the VIS personnel to make changes and ensure a smooth rollout.”

As the sole technician in WSU’s neurology department, Fraser collects blood/urine, preps patients for surgeries and spinal taps, and keeps track of test results.

She was nominated by neurology resident Sarvenaz Bagheri for her passion for her patients and her high level of work.

“Connie has developed a close relationship with many of our meningoencephalitis cases as they frequently visit our service due to their need for in-depth and closer management and care. Connie frequently provides Cytosar injections to these patients, which is often demanding and stressful as they need to be given every other hour for eight hours, but Connie understands the necessity of this treatment and has never hesitated to openly communicate and ask for help when she is needed in several places,” Bagheri wrote.

Since joining Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience and the School of Molecular Biosciences as an academic coordinator and advisor, Jackson has enhanced the college’s undergraduate experience and created study abroad opportunities for undergraduates by partnering with the college’s other programs.

Jackson was nominated by undergraduate professor Phil Mixter for her teamwork and her dedication to student success, as well as her role in starting the Cougar Career Conference.

“This conference occurred at WSU for the first time in February 2022 and was a resounding success. Student participant feedback indicated that it was effective at aiding their professional development, connecting them with alumni in their field and relieving much of their anxiety about the current job market. This event will become an annual feature to aid interested students in their journey to find their professional personas,” Mixter wrote.

Nordin, the first lab manager in Clinical Pathology, was recognized by his labmates for his efficiency, conscientiousness, timeliness, job excellence, craftsmanship, and continuous improvement.

“His strong work ethic and knowledgeable background as a laboratory manager in the human medical field and his affable personality make him the perfect fit for a service that provides care and support to our veterinary teaching hospital, clinicians, and patients,” members of the Clinical Pathology lab wrote. “In addition to all the improvements and standardization he has brought to the laboratory, it also should be noted that when the laboratory is short staffed, he is the first to jump in and assist as needed.”

Patterson-Semler always leaves a positive impact on the Small Animal Internal Medicine team, its clients, and patients.

“She is efficient and manages to somehow fit in a degree of excellence and care for all our patients and doctors that I would expect would take multiple people to do. Specifically, our clients love Erin. I can think of countless situations when I was at a loss and Erin had the right thing to say to make sure her people and our patients were cared for well,” the Small Animal Internal Medicine team wrote.

Willett is the go-to point person in Veterinary Clinical Sciences for anything concerning  faculty teaching of students, interns, residents, scheduling, and degree defenses.

He was nominated by the radiology team in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

“Jordan seems a natural fit for his position of academic coordinator. He is outgoing and eminently approachable. His knowledge of operation in the graduate school has been extremely valuable in his current work with the house officers. Residents and interns are often under a high degree of stress when approaching Jordan about their graduate program, and he takes all interactions (positive or negative) in stride,” the radiology team wrote.

The College of Veterinary Medicine communication team – Josh Babcock, Rheannon Hawkins, Cheryl Mitchell, Henry Moore Jr., Charlie Powell, Devin Rokyta, and Heather Smith-Mateo – were recognized with this year’s group award.

Communications Director Marcia Gossard nominated the group for their work year-round, as well as for creating the new websites for the college and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She wrote the communications team is unlike any at the university. “Their commitment to this college is undeniable and that commitment and their willingness to try new things, make mistakes, and try again made it possible for the communications office to make great strides over the past year,” Gossard wrote in her nomination.