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Congrats to our Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week winners

These exceptional faculty, staff and student employees are shining examples of dedication, innovation and excellence.

By Lindsey Coulter

October 29, 2020

Nominations continue to roll in for Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week awards, highlighting the excellent and important work happening at all levels of the University. This week, we celebrate three members of our University community who inspire students and their colleagues.

“MSU Denver employees are some of the hardest-working folks in higher education, and these winners epitomize that commitment to excellence,” said President Janine Davidson, Ph.D. “Congratulations to you all, and thank you for being such champions for students and for the University.”

Kristen Atkinson, Ph.D.Faculty winner – Kristen Atkinson, Ph.D., lecturer, Social Work

Nominated by Jessica Retrum, Ph.D., associate professor, chair, Social Work, who wrote:

“This is Dr. Atkinson’s third year as a Category II faculty (member) in the Department of Social Work. She has demonstrated student-centered, insightful and high-quality teaching performance as shown by her Student Ratings of Instruction scores and student comments. In every one of the course sections in Dr. Atkinson’s portfolio, her SRI scores are close to or above the section mean. Student quotes that are representative of the comments throughout are: “‘Kristen is an excellent instructor. She unpacks difficult concepts in a way that makes sense and has always made me feel supported and heard in our classroom. I appreciate how she approaches complex assignments with a lot of support and helpful information. I’m so happy I have her for this course – Capstone has turned from the class I was most intimidated by to the class I look forward to the most.’”

Kristen, thank you for your dedication and for keeping student success at the center of your work. Your ability to challenge students as well as create an environment of support is clearly making an impact.

John ArnoldStaff/administrator winner – John Arnold, director of Communications

Nominated by Dan Vaccaro, associate vice president of strategic communications, who wrote:

“John oversees the University’s video and photo production, RED digital newsroom and alumni magazine. He’s a phenomenal storyteller, strategic thinker and personable colleague. His work often happens behind the scenes, so I’d like to shine a light on some of his important contributions to the organization. In the last year, he oversaw the redesign and rebranding of MSU Denver’s magazine. He shot and edited the University’s national-award-winning brand video. He is the editor in chief of the RED digital newsroom, which during the global pandemic has published more than 50 COVID-related news stories. Those stories generated more than 50,000 page views on the RED website, a year-over-year increase of 43% compared with the same period in 2019. The site also had more than 85,000 new users during that time, a 64% increase from the previous year. John’s work is growing MSU Denver’s brand in the city, state and region, and he does it all with a calm, can-do work ethic that is inspiring. Thank you, John.”

Especially in times like these, it’s imperative to boldly and innovatively communicate our University excellence and our mission. John, your efforts to reach new audiences and tell the MSU Denver story are so valuable. Thank you for your energy and ideas.

Isabella PadillaStudent-employee winner – Isabella Padilla, Welcome Desk ambassador and student employee within the Department of Social Work

Nominated by Ann Obermann, Ph.D., assistant professor, Social Work, who wrote:

“Isabella ‘Izzy’ Padilla is an amazing Human Services major, Welcome Desk ambassador in the Department of Social Work, accessibility champion and person! Izzy joined the Social Work student worker team in 2019. She immediately introduced herself to faculty and staff in the department and made all students who entered or called feel welcome.

“As a faculty member, I ask Izzy to help me out with many different things, and she always answers my questions with energy, clarity and timeliness. What makes Izzy stand out is her commitment to accessibility and faculty support, especially since moving fully online due to COVID-19. Izzy worked with Gabe Christie, instructional-accessibility manager, to learn all about making PDFs and PowerPoints accessible by attending CTLD accessibility training and getting individual training. Since attending these trainings, Izzy has provided most of our faculty with her services.

“With moving fully online, she had to switch how she provided services because no one could go into the office to use the scanners. To demonstrate how she goes the extra mile, not only does she convert PDFs and PowerPoints, but she double-checks quality by including and testing it out with family members! Once campus opened up, Izzy told faculty she would drive over and pick up the needed chapters from their home, then go to campus to scan and create the document. Recently, she presented to a faculty seminar for online learning despite her full-time student schedule. She provided a very professional and practical seminar.

“In addition to her leadership, she is a skilled teacher when it comes to demonstrating how to make documents accessible and is patient with faculty (no small task!). As a student, Izzy is committed to Human Service leadership and development. She volunteered to review our Social Work Online Teaching site with standards she learned in her social-media course. From this review, we changed some organization of topics to make the site more engaging. Izzy is an amazing person and dedicated to social justice and change. Her commitment to accessibility is clear in how she interacts with faculty, the quality of her PDFs (by deconstructing tables to make sense to a screen reader), her attention to detail and her respect for the content. She is truly amazing to have around, and her personality brings joy to all around!”

Ensuring educational equity and access is critically important, and student-employee partnership makes those efforts even more meaningful. Izzy, thank you for your leadership, advocacy and tenacity. You are a great representative for your program and for the University.

To nominate outstanding employees for the Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week award, please complete the form on the Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week webpage. Tell us how your nominee is making an impact through great teaching, service to students or innovation. Winners will be selected each week and profiled in the Early Bird on Thursdays. Winners will also get a shoutout on social media.

Topics: Award, Excellence, Roadrunner Shoutout

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