2012 COSA Recipients

Individual Recipients

  • Alexis Bucknam
  • Lynn Cerda Price
  • Rose Chan-Gee
  • Don Chimpky
  • Mike Cohen
  • Karen Holtermann
  • Katherine Imura
  • Gail Kaufman
  • Corinne Kosmitzki
  • Belinda Kuo White
  • Daryl Mathews
  • Lyle Nevels
  • Hilja New
  • Mary Pepple
  • Bryce Roberts
  • Rebecca Sablo
  • Shareena Samson
  • Michael Schneider
  • Melissa Varian
  • Donna Vivar
  • Seamus Wilmot
  • Devin Woolridge

team recipients

  • Family Housing Administrative Team
    • Justine Erickson
    • Rosalinda Garcia
    • Lisa Hart
    • Helen Horowitz
  • LBNL Second Campus Response
    • Mark Freiberg
    • Robert Hatheway
    • Kevin Hufferd
    • Tom Klatt
    • Jennifer McDougall
    • Kerry O’Banion
    • Scott Shackleton
  • OE Meal Plan
    • Charles Davies*
    • Florence Fung
    • Shawn LaPean
    • Michael Laux
    • Ida Shen
    • Patrice Thomas
  • ONE Project
    • Norma Firestone
    • Dion Shimatsu-Ong
  • Physical Plant and Campus Services Executive Safety Committee
    • Dennis Barlow
    • Greg Harrington
    • Jeff Light
    • Stan Richardson 
  • Stewardship Operations Streamlining
    • Celia Hamman-Cueto
    • Craig Matthews
    • Kristy Nordahl
    • Yvette Renee
    • Christa Schnur
  • UC Ready Development Team
    • Karin Bliman
    • Adam Cohen
    • Gianni Carlo Contardo
    • Kai Hsieh
    • Richard Katz
    • Eric Liao
    • Simon Litvak
    • Lito Tejada
    • Tom Tsai


Alexis Bucknam, Blum Center for Developing Economies, is a pioneer in the field of student leadership, service learning and engaged scholarship on campus. Alexis led many student-centered innovations upon which the success of the Global Poverty and Practice Minor is built. Her work also revitalized the Big Ideas@Berkeley competition, a platform for student innovation that fosters research by undergraduate and graduate students. Alexis is credited with being an active mentor for students and staff alike, with a passion for building communities and collaborative relationships.

Lynn Cerda Price, Goldman School of Public Policy, stepped up to be staff administrator for the School's Center for Civility and Democratic Engagement, originally conceptualized and funded by the Class of '68. She is the Goldman School's liaison to the Center's alumni founders. She developed the Center's growing academic program, produced and maintains its website, and diplomatically handles matters related to the role of alumni in an academic enterprise. Because of her efforts, the Center's growing program will have the positive, far-reaching impact its founders envisioned.

Rose Chan-Gee, Registrar's Office, is a great leader and community builder. She led the push to provide one-stop services for Summer Session students. She is an active member of the Chancellor's Task Force on Undocumented Members of the On-Campus Community. She organized a contest that resulted in 2,900 items being donated to care packages for students in the Cal Independent Scholars Network (undergraduates who have recently exited the foster care system). She organized a staff "Thank You Day" that many called the best morale-building activity they ever attended.

Don Chimpky, Molecular and Cellular Biology Department, uses innovation and a can-do attitude to keep "every sort of scientific machine imaginable" in working order, saving researchers precious time and money. Instead of calling off-campus service technicians, labs are able to rely on Don's expertise to repair equipment efficiently and effectively. Don continually finds ways to improve equipment design, preventing future breakdowns. Through his painstaking repairs to costly laboratory equipment, Don plays a crucial role in supporting research at Berkeley..

Mike Cohen, Office of Technology Licensing, has fundamentally changed the perception of UC Berkeley's Intellectual Property practices and implemented a series of initiatives to help maximize the commercialization of innovations in ways that also bolster UC Berkeley's mission. Mike has made exemplary contributions to building bridges between the university and local government and business leaders, resulting in such accomplishments as the QB3 East Bay Innovation Center in West Berkeley and the Berkeley Startup Cluster. Berkeley government leaders have noted Mike has played a leadership role in establishing an unprecedented level of good will between "town and gown" on economic development.

Karen Holtermann, College of Engineering. Karen's accomplishments this year include establishing the Synthetic Biology Institute, a joint project of the College of Engineering and College of Chemistry, and assembling the proposal for a new Masters in Translational Medicine Degree, a joint program between Berkeley and UCSF. These accomplishments highlight a 30-year career at her alma mater as a Senior Development Director. Her ability to navigate and create collaboration across colleges and universities has helped to create groundbreaking programs that will serve faculty and students for years to come.

Katherine Imura has been an outstanding administrator at the Law Library for over 20 years, but in the last few years she rose to new heights to meet a unique challenge. In order to mitigate the impact on students, during construction of the new law library, Katherine did everything from measuring sound and dust levels to distributing headphones and hosting cookie breaks. She also worked closely with staff to make their transition to a new workspace as painless as possible, modeling how to respond to change with innovation.

Gail Kaufman, Center for Educational Partnerships, is the lead architect behind the success of CAL Prep, a college preparatory charter school targeting students who are first in their family to attend college. She brings UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students, neighborhood communities, charter school management, and CAL Prep's staff and students together to create an innovative model of collaboration. The first CAL Prep class graduated last year, all of whom were accepted to four-year colleges, including one who entered Cal. From Associate Vice Provost Angelica Stacy, "It takes a village. Gail is the village chief."

Corinne Kosmitzki, Graduate Division, took over as Assistant Dean at a time of significant change and uncertainty. She spearheaded efforts to streamline graduate admissions transcript submissions and led the charge in rebuilding the entire online graduate application and review system. Corinne continuously listens to her constituents, inspires her staff, and brings a big-picture perspective and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

Belinda Kuo White, Sociology, overhauled internal reporting and administrative processes by systematizing forms, setting up work flows, and instituting a regular reporting system to keep faculty appraised of their research accounts. She works to understand both the university's rules as well as the department's goals. When rules and goals are in conflict, she finds ways of getting things done, always with integrity. From Professor and former Department Chair Peterson, "Belinda makes it easy for me to simply focus on teaching and research."

Daryl Mathews, Physical Plant Campus Services. On December 10, 2011, a major diesel spill compromised Stanley Hall and threatened significant environmental damage. Daryl demonstrated leadership during a complex and constantly evolving situation with his ability to coordinate between campus staff from other units, Physical Plant Campus Services and outside contractors. Through his diligence, disruption to Stanley Hall was kept to a minimum.

Lyle Nevels, Haas School of Business, is an outstanding leader who inspires others to achieve a high level of performance. In addition to his duties as Chief Information Officer and Head of Facilities, Lyle serves on several projects including the Operational Excellence Information Technology work stream and two external review committees. Committed to maximizing resources, he has been instrumental in delivering seven design documents outlining efficiency and cost-saving improvements. On November 15, 2011, Lyle was a true hero, locating a reported armed gunman and remaining on the scene to identify the suspect to police, helping to avoid further tragedy that day.

Hilja New, History, is known for her skill in navigating the University's complex benefit system. Her eye for detail catches errors in paperwork saving staff thousands of dollars, and her knowledge helps Graduate Student Instructors access benefits in times of greatest need. "Hilja puts into motion every benefit possible to sustain them, helps them access needed medical services and hires replacements for their sections. She does this with a quiet competence and compassion that bring order into situations that feel very much out of control," said Professor Maureen Miller, Vice-Chair for Graduate Affairs..

Mary Pepple, Mathematics, Mary has oversight and responsibility for the operation of the Department. She also has managerial responsibility for the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project, an externally funded resource for California middle and high schools. She proactively works to improve the physical environment, from anticipating the needs of physically disabled staff to changing out the building lobby glass with fire-rated glass. She developed a program for cross-training and career development with department staff that has boosted morale and increased efficiency.

Bryce Roberts, Space Sciences Laboratory, is an indispensable member of a small team of scientists and engineers who work in the Berkeley Mission Operations Center, where the university operates six satellites. For the NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) satellite scheduled to launch this spring, Bryce has been almost solely responsible for critical ground systems that support the operation of the spacecraft and the delivery of engineering and science data. His innovation, creativity, and dedication have earned the praise not only of his coworkers but of engineers at NASA and elsewhere.

Rebecca Sablo, Berkeley International Office, brings a strong commitment and dedication to her work. Energetically championing the efforts of the university to increase the number of undergraduate international students on campus, she works to make them feel welcomed and to offer programs and services that assist in their academic and personal success. She also provides regional volunteer services with NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Shareena Samson, Mechanical Engineering, always goes the extra mile to promote and support the Department's efforts to improve instructional quality. This ranges from single-handedly reorganizing the Department's graduate student handbook to skillfully coordinating the hiring of over one hundred GSI and reader appointments each semester. She also organizes after-hours town halls, outreach, and social activities that greatly enhance students' university experience.

Michael Schneider, As Business Services Manager in the newly created Biosciences Divisional Services, Michael served as a crucial anchor during the merger of staff from the Integrative Biology and Molecular and Cell Biology departments. When the manager of Integrative Biology retired, and again when the first director of Biosciences Divisional Services left for a new job, Michael stepped up to take on additional duties, represent and support the staff, and make sure the transition kept progressing smoothly. His inclusive management style and proactive leadership are an inspiration to the staff and faculty with whom he works.

Melissa Varian, Mechanical Engineering, has simply become the one-stop shop of her department. In the face of budget cuts and a restructured department, she has taken on a number of additional duties with grace and great success. Melissa has spearheaded a number of innovative new projects. She created a new faculty support office and completely streamlined the department's mail delivery system, highlighting her extraordinary creativity and initiative.

Donna Vivar, College of Environmental Design, envisioned and created a remarkable program designed to attract qualified and diverse applicants to the College of Environmental Design's undergraduate programs.Working with both graduate and undergraduate students, she developed the Admissions Ambassadors program. The Program attracts a wide range of student participants, gives them training, and provides hands-on experience working with potential students and their parents. Donna and the Admissions Ambassadors help recruit talented students from a variety of backgrounds, making the college a lively and welcoming home for undergraduate environmental design majors.

Seamus Wilmot, in his three years as the Parking and Transportation Director, Seamus has demonstrated outstanding leadership by dramatically transforming the culture of his department and gaining the respect and trust of all of his staff. He has gone to great lengths to improve unit communication and provide staff development opportunities for staff at every level. In addition, his many innovative projects, such as retrofitting garage lighting and the Operational Excellence Car Share initiative, have saved money and significantly contributed to campus sustainability efforts.

Devin Woolridge, Physical Plant Facilities Services, has been an outstanding leader, communicator and community builder in a very unique place — People's Park. He builds trust, one interaction at a time, with park visitors, event sponsors, volunteers, police, merchants, social workers, students, managers, gardeners, custodians, and campus administrators, in order to keep the park as vital as limited budgets and competing priorities allow. He models civility and respect, and cares deeply about the safety and well-being of the community.

Team Recipients

Family Housing Administrative Team. Facing staffing gaps, this team creatively planned and implemented a job-rotation concept creating a crossfunctional team that provides premium customer service to residents, their families, and other staff, changing the culture of the organization. Rotating jobs every six months, they redefined processes, provided training for each other, and reorganized the workspace to facilitate teamwork. From nominator Karen Larsen, "They have reminded us that is it good to remember in the face of difficult reconstruction that change itself is often good."

LBNL Second Campus Response. As the driving force behind the university's successful bid to host the LBNL second campus at the Richmond Field Station, this team made it possible to expand our teaching and research capacity by 2 million square feet. This new kind of public-private partnership will enhance the university's academic reputation by increasing access to leading scholars and entrepreneurs, and will also provide many job opportunities, economic benefits and resources to both UC Berkeley and the City of Richmond at a time of heightened need.

OE Meal Plan. This team embraced the objectives of Operational Excellence as a challenge and an opportunity. The team was awarded grant money from outside UC Berkeley and managed the remaining needs with existing resources. They negotiated better deals on food and beverage purchases, installed a food waste management system, and integrated their Information Technology systems to provide feedback and data to help staff reduce waste. The team achieved significant savings in food and operating costs, an increase of operational services quality, and developed an environment of continuous improvement.

ONE Project. Funded by a UC Berkeley Innovation Grant in Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, the One Project had the goal to build community and respect for diversity within the School of Public Health via technology and the web. Dion and Norma were able to create a multimedia website (http://one.sph.berkeley.edu) featuring members of the School community and their varied interests apart from their academic lives. Events were also held to build morale and share values, including a Paper Cranes for Japan project associated with a rebuilding effort after the earthquakes in Japan. The end result of their efforts is an increased sense of empathy and appreciation for diversity and creativity within the School of Public Health.

The Physical Plant and Campus Services Executive Safety Committee.This team has voluntarily played leadership roles on the PPCS Executive Safety Committee, formed after staff reductions eliminated existing safety personnel. The team's accomplishments include a "know your numbers" campaign that identified 20 employees with previously undiagnosed, potentially life-threatening health conditions; safety Talking Points that are regularly disseminated to all staff; training in Hazardous Material reporting; and an online safety program calendar. As a result, the department has seen a significant drop in Worker's Compensation claims. The recipients would like to accept this award on behalf of all the staff who have contributed to the Safety Committee.

Stewardship Operations Streamlining. This Team at the College of Engineering challenged the status quo and transformed the gift administration and donor acknowledgement process. By utilizing technology to streamline business practices and to improve the overall quality of work, efficient automated processes have replaced time-consuming data entry. Staff costs are down and accuracy is near perfect. Electronic document storage and a new online honor roll of donors are saving natural resources and most importantly, the College's donors are receiving prompt and accurate expressions of gratitude.

UC Ready Development Team. In collaboration with the UC Berkeley Office of Continuity Planning, this team has created the only business continuity tool designed specifically for higher education, which prepares the campus to continue our teaching, research, and service mission despite earthquakes or other disruptive events. Today, more than 70 colleges and universities in three countries pay to use this well-designed and easy-to-use tool. Because of the work of this team, UC Berkeley is now known as the undisputed leader in innovative academic continuity planning.