2023 Presidential Excellence Award Winners

Each year the University of Louisville recognizes the incredible work of faculty and staff with the annual presidential excellence awards. Congratulations to our winners in 2023!

George J. Howe Distinguished Staff Award | Trustees Award

Cardinal Principles Champions | Distinguished Faculty Awards | Outstanding Performance Awards | Outstanding Supervisor Award | Team Impact Award

George J. Howe Distinguished Staff Award

The annual George J. Howe Distinguished Staff Award recognizes the contributions of an extraordinary University of Louisville staff member who exemplifies the traits of its namesake George J. Howe (humility, generosity, and excellence in leadership) as well as the Cardinal Principles. This staff member's career has had an exceptional impact on the university and its vision to be a great place to learn, work, and in which to invest.

Margaret Pentecost
Margaret Pentecost | College of Education and Human Development | Assistant Dean – Graduate Student Success

From the nomination:

"Margaret has been with the University of Louisville for over 31 years. Her experience leads to some wonderful insight and wisdom that our colleagues rely on daily. She is known to be fiercely protective of the student, faculty, and staff experience and has the ability to advance positive outcomes for all involved in a situation regardless of their role, often without them ever knowing she's done it.”

Trustees Award

The Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville established The Trustees Award in 1989 to honor faculty who individually impact the future of our students. The award is intended to recognize faculty who have had, currently or in the past, an extraordinary impact on students.

Nefertiti Burton
Nefertiti Burton | College of Arts and Sciences | Chair and Professor of Theatre Arts

Dr. Burton is a dedicated and gracious teacher and artist, and a highly regarded scholar-practitioner in her field. She is a consummate teacher and committed builder of the African American Theatre Program, the first and only accredited graduate program of its kind in the nation.

Cardinal Principles Champions

The Cardinal Principles Champions award is designed to honor our faculty and staff who have demonstrated one of the Cardinal Principles at the highest level of impact.

Jason Beare, Community of Care
Jason Beare | School of Medicine and Thoracic Surgery | Research Manager

From the nomination:
”Jason's commitment to care speaks loud and clear through his actions and advocacy for others. In my interactions with him he has proven to be a good and sympathetic listener who can turn concerns into actions that provide results that benefit employees."

Michel Ball, Accountability
Michel Ball | Health and Sport Sciences - College of Education and Human Development | Administrative Associate

From the nomination:
“Michel treats anyone who approaches her for help with the same caring smile, dignity, and respect regardless of their position or status at UofL which is a direct impact and indication of her humility. Whether you are a student, staff, or faculty you can expect the same level of assistance, respect, and welcoming attitude Michel provides.”

Kamari Wooten, Respect
Kamari Wooten | Athletics | Executive Director of Academic Services

From the nomination:
“Kamari is someone who has demonstrated the Cardinal Principles at the highest level of impact. Committed to the success of student-athletes, he upholds several of the Cardinal Principles in all facets of this work. Kamari demonstrates and exudes these principles in his life's professional and personal aspects each day, dedicated to his work and serving those around him in any way he can.”

John Chenault, Diversity and Inclusion
John Chenault | Office of Undergraduate Medical Education | Associate Professor

From the nomination:
“John is an accomplished, credible, and result-driven practitioner who has an outstanding and proven track record in diversity, inclusion, and equity training, program development, and education. John’s work at the Health Science Center campus has increased the profile not only of the School of Medicine but also the University of Louisville.”

Karen Blake, Integrity and Transparency
Karen Blake | University Planning, Design and Construction | Space Planning Manager

From the nomination:
“Karen goes above and beyond in everything she does for the university. Every action she takes she makes sure that it is done with care and consideration so that the end product is always what is best for our faculty staff and students. Her commitment is noble and she takes the extra step in making sure that every option has been reviewed and the move forward is what is best for all parties.”

Gordon Stout, Noble Purpose

Gordon Stout, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Research Manager

From the nomination:
It is not an exaggeration to state that without Mr. Stout’s work, the Peds ID division would not have been as prolific as is has been over the years. In addition, his longstanding connection to and rapport with Norton Microbiology Laboratory personnel has allowed the Peds ID division to exchange knowledge, equipment and expertise which have been vital to the success of the PIDL.”

Jessica Jackey, Agility
Jessica Jackey| School of Nursing | Coordinator of Academic Affairs-Graduate Programs Graduate Advisor

From the nomination:
“Jessica’s professional acumen, equanimity, ability to identify needs and opportunities, and her quick response to changing needs are the component strengths of her agility. Creating change within large systems with multiple stakeholders that have different needs and desires is difficult but Jessica is a successful changemaker who strives to balance the needs of the student, unit, institution, and community.”

Michelle Rodems,Leadership
Michelle Rodems | Graduate School | Director for Professional Development, Retention, and Success

From the nomination:
“As a leader, Michelle is student focused, accountable to the graduate school team, respectful of all regardless of position, focused on diversity and inclusion (her session on inclusive teaching is excellent), and she has a noble purpose of helping students succeed so they get what they need from their graduate experience to lead successful lives during and after graduate school.”

Distinguished Faculty Awards

Every year, the University honors faculty who bring distinction to the university through their commitment to the areas of service, teaching, and outstanding scholarship, research, and creative activity.

Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity

Kevin Walsh
Speed School of Engineering
Basic and Applied Sciences

From the nomination:

Dr. Walsh has been a faculty member at U of L since 1986 and during this time he has contributed to teaching and learning environment at the university and specifically at Speed School of Engineering. Dr. Walsh pioneered the nanotechnology program at UofL, led the development of their nationally known state-of-the-art micro/nano core facilities, and contributed significantly to research in the fields of micro/nanotechnology and MEMS.

Christopher Brody
School of Music
Creative and Performing Arts

From the nomination:

The breadth of Dr. Brody’s work in the area of creative and scholarly activity is astounding. His activity has been substantial, committed, and sustained throughout his career. As such, his contributions to the music community have been far reaching. Chris Brody’s work is felt in the music theory field as others incorporate his methods and ideas. This work also has an impact on students. The music of J.S. Bach is music that people care about, want to learn more about, and want to perform. Brody’s discoveries come alive in the classroom, whether it’s working with first-year music majors learning nuts-and-bolts about basic harmonic features or graduate students studying nuances of musical form. His enthusiasm contributes to the zeal of student work across our School of Music.


Janice Sullivan
School of Medicine
Career Achievement

From the nomination:

Dr. Janice Sullivan joined the faculty at the University of Louisville in 1995 with appointments in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Her research career has been focused on addressing the persistent disparity in the study of drugs for children, resulting in the vast majority of drugs used in pediatric patients being used off‐label. Dr. Sullivan is a kind and compassionate individual who enhances the lives of those around her. She is of the highest moral caliber and is a testament and tribute to the research culture of your institution.

Lesley Harris
Kent School of Social Work and Family Science
Social Sciences

From the nomination:

Dr. Harris has been on faculty at the Kent School since 2014 and has received tenure and the rank of Associate Professor. She has established herself as a leader in the Kent School and on the wider University of Louisville campus. In addition to receiving tenure at Kent School, she is also an affiliated faculty member at the School of Public Health and Information Sciences, and an Adjunct Faculty Member at the School of Nursing. Dr. Harris is one of the most respected scholars on our faculty, which is full of outstanding talent who are all doing important work. This says a great deal about the quality and impact of her scholarship. She has always been a bright, compassionate scholar, but it has been gratifying to see these traits deepen across all her years at UofL in various roles.

Simona Bertacco
College of Arts and Sciences

From the nomination:

Professor Bertacco is a gifted, productive scholar, who is also deeply committed to the University. She’s a professional. I can think of no one more deserving of being recognized for distinction in outstanding scholarship, research, and creative activity. Prof. Bertacco has already conducted considerable preliminary research on her topic as well as publishing a series of essays based on papers she has given at various conferences. Given her considerable academic accomplishments and her highly engaged research and publication record, this recognition would further spur her work and bring it to a fruition by way of a book in the spring of 2023. Her work in Caribbean literary production will be a highly significant contribution to postcolonial, indeed world literature.

Distinguished Service

Emma Sterrett-Hong
Kent School of Social Work and Family Science
Service to UofL

From the nomination:

As a faculty member at the Kent School of Social Work and Family Science since 2011, Dr. Sterrett-Hong has achieved tenure and the rank of associate professor and has established herself as a leader within Kent School and across the University of Louisville campus. Dr. Sterrett-Hong is a respected scholar, talented administrator and instructor, and genuine person who has dedicated much of her efforts to facilitating student and faculty success through her various service engagements. Despite her numerous achievements and contributions, Dr. Sterrett-Hong remains humble and supportive, and is always willing to lend a hand to her colleagues and those she serves.

Susan Galandiuk
School of Medicine
Career of Service

A dedicated physician - scientist, teacher and researcher, Susan Galandiuk is a diligent, proficient and acclaimed academician. She has published 186 peer- reviewed scientific papers; four book publications (Editor and Coeditor); 53 book chapters. She has organized, led, and published as the principal investigator for innumerable pharma-scientifically -based publications with randomized, prospective clinical trials focused upon ulcerative colitis and/ or Crohn's disease and general surgical applied science (many of which she is the Principal Investigator or co-Pl within these trials). Many of the above important clinical trials were conducted through IRB protocols, she developed and completed at the University of Louisville.

W. Mark McGinley
Speed School of Engineering
Service to the Profession

From the nomination:

Professor McGinley is one of the nation’s leading civil engineering educators addressing masonry construction systems in general, with particular emphasis on cutting-edge methods to optimize masonry resilient design. His research and scholarly work are substantial, and his willingness to go beyond the university classroom to share his wisdom and experience is quite exceptional. Dr. McGinley’s service to his own profession, and to educator / practitioners such as myself in the related discipline of Architecture, is substantial. The design of public schools, big box stores and fire houses in many parts of the country have been enhanced by Dr. McGinley’s outreach education efforts to practitioners.

Ayman El-Baz
Speed School of Engineering
National/International Service

From the nomination:

Dr. El-Baz has improved the visibility of the Bioengineering department at UofL internationally, which contributed to the Bioengineering Department receiving the highest percentile ranking amongst engineering programs in the Speed School of Engineering. Dr. El-Baz is a very highly motivated faculty member. He has been an outstanding professor and department chair and his efforts have contributed significantly towards furthering the mission of the University of Louisville in the areas of national and international service.

Melissa Currie
School of Medicine
Service to the Community, the Commonwealth and/or the Region

From the nomination:

Dr. Currie established the academic division of forensic medicine in 2007 and continues to lead the child abuse subspecialty consultation service, the first of its kind in the state of Kentucky which, at the time was number one in the country in incidence of child abuse and deaths from child abuse. Due to the hard work and dedication of Dr. Melissa Currie, we currently have a dearth of resources across the region to respond emergently to patients/victims that present throughout The Commonwealth of Kentucky. It is clear to me that no one is more deserving of the Distinguished Service to us Community, Commonwealth and Region Award than Dr. Melissa Currie.

Distinguished Teaching Professor

Denise Cumberland
College of Education and Human Development

From the nomination:

Dr. Denise Cumberland is a faculty member whose skills extend across teaching platforms, who provides exemplary feedback and support to students, who seeks continual personal improvement, and who extends her own learning into service by supporting faculty across the department and university in their own teaching. She elevates student learning and faculty teaching improvement alike, with vast impact as a teacher. She provides regular leadership and support for curricular design and teaching improvement across the department and the university as a whole.

Shamus McNamera
Speed School of Engineering

From the nomination:

Dr. McNamara is a pillar of excellence at J.B. Speed School. Teaching from the viewpoint of a fellow student, taking time to move at the pace of the class, and making an effort to be available outside of normal hours are aspects I wish all of my professors shared. Dr. McNamara is the epitome of what all of us faculty should strive to be in teaching excellence.

Shawnise Miller
Kent School of Social Work and Family Science

From the nomination:

Dr. Miller has been teaching within the Kent School of Social Work and Family Science since 2009, though in this letter we focus on her achievements over the past five years. During her tenure at UofL, Dr. Miller has developed a reputation as a conceptually, methodologically, and technologically progressive instructor. Whereas terms like diversity and social justice are now commonplace in the academy and in public discourse, Dr. Miller has been developing course content in these areas for over 10 years.

Chad Sloan
School of Music

From the nomination:

Over the course of his career, Professor Chad Sloan has exhibited a sustained commitment to inspiring and educating students and training future educators and performers. His enthusiasm, creativity, and talent have built a strong reputation of excellence among his students, his colleagues, and the field at large. We can think of no one more deserving to be put forth as the School of Music nominee for this year’s prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Louisville.

T Cantrell
College of Arts and Sciences

From the nomination:

Ms. Cantrell has served as a part-time instructor at the University of Louisville continuously since 2006. In 2011 she was promoted to the rank of Senior Lecturer I, and to Senior Lecturer II in 2020. In addition, she advises the Philosophy Club and the Ethics Living Learning Community (LLC). Year in and year out, Ms. Cantrell’s performance – as reflected in student evaluations, student testimonies, peer teaching assessments, and departmental merit reviews – provides a model of excellence.

Outstanding Performance Award Winners

The Outstanding Performance Awards recognize university staff (both exempt and nonexempt) who inspire others through their outstanding dedication and commitment to UofL.

Katie Adamchik
Katie Adamchik | Student Success Center | Director of Student Success

From the nomination:
“Katie exemplifies an unwavering commitment to UofL and its values. Katie’s career has been built on her mission to support student success and increase educational attainment, particularly for low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students who often encounter greater barriers. She’s a fierce advocate for educational equity, identifying and collaborating across campus to improve the student experience.”

Kenneth Carey
Kenneth Carey | Physical Plant | General Maintenance Mechanic

From the nomination:
“Mr. Carey has done a remarkable job with maintenance on the 14th floor of the building where our offices and laboratories are located. Our research operation on this floor alone is in the millions of dollars and Mr. Carey has done an outstanding job responding to key building maintenance needs. He is always responsive to the students and personnel in my laboratory and approaches challenges and needs with a service mentality and a 'how can I help' mentality.”

Jennifer Foreman
Jennifer Foreman | Kent School of Social Work and Family Science | Program Manager

From the nomination:
“Jennifer has demonstrated exemplary leadership, service, and commitment to advancing the missions of the University of Louisville and the Kent School of Social Work and Family Science. She is a champion of student success, which she has demonstrated as an adjunct instructor and in her fulltime role as the Program Manager in the MSSW Advising Office!”

Carissa Gentry
Carissa Gentry, Center for Military-Connected Students | Program Coordinator Senior

From the nomination:
“Carissa counsels, advises, processes, and certifies this function for the more than 1,000 veteran students the institution has enrolled. Additionally, as a team member of the Center for Military-Connected Students, Carissa helps connect military-connected students with campus and local resources, helps the connect with each other, ultimately helps them fulfill their academic goals. Carissa is the finest SCO in the nation.”

Adam Gibson
Adam Gibson | School of Nursing, Information Technology | IT Systems Support Analyst

From the nomination:
“Adam is excellent in his service to the School of Nursing (SON). He consistently juggles the hands-on delivery of technology support, helps in every area of technology needs, and demonstrates critical judgment in all interactions. Adam’s constant dedication to the SON and University makes him deserving of this award.”

Alex Isham
Alex Isham | Speed School – Bioengineering | Manager, Technical Services

From the nomination:
“Alex has served as a Tier 1 computer support for the Department of Bioengineering for the past 18 years. He has been of great service to other faculty members and students, going well beyond the narrow interpretation of his job description. Alex is one of the most conscientious staff members I have ever known.”

Karen Ramsey
Karen Ramsey| Department of Medicine-Infectious Diseases | Administrative Assistant

From the nomination:
“Karen is a dedicated employee who has proudly given 22 years to the University of Louisville. For years, she has provided the necessary leadership for successful Internships and Fellowships in the Division of Infectious Diseases. When she is not at work, she is actively working to improve the community. Karen very much deserves to be acknowledged for her years of work, professionalism and dedication to the university and the Division of Infectious Diseases.”

Rob Smith
Rob Smith | Office of Research and Innovation | Commercialization Manager

From the nomination:
“Rob faces challenges with a can-do spirit and never backs down. He has good balance in his life and is smart enough to know when he needs help and seeks assistance for his team to come along side to ensure the task at hand is done. He thinks outside the box to see how we can all work more efficiently with fewer resources. He is committed to his job and to his family, finding the balance to ensure both properly and appropriately receive his needed attention.”

M. Yvette Stith
M. Yvette Stith | Graduate School Administrative Assistant

From the nomination:
“Yvette quickly recognizes student funding problems or inconsistencies and initiates prompt resolutions to issues. She is diligent in reviewing the unit’s monthly reconciliation reports and communicates with Business Ops to correct any problems/errors she finds. This office would likely fall apart if it weren’t for Yvette’s attention to all the small needs of the office.”

Charles Williams
Charles Williams | Physical Plant | Locksmith

From the nomination:
“Charles is one of the university’s most valuable assets. He has served this university for over 34 years and due to staff shortages, has run the Lock shop by himself for the past 4 years. His vast knowledge of our campus facilities is extremely invaluable, and I truly believe he deserves this award. He is literally irreplaceable due to his knowledge of our keying system.”

Outstanding Supervisor Award Winner

Great supervisors create a culture of engagement that includes supporting the development of team members and sending a strong, consistent message of respect, compassion, and trustworthiness.

Anthony Kron
Anthony Kron | Physical Plant | Program Assistant Senior

From the nomination:
“Anthony is by far the best supervisor I have ever had. His professionalism far exceeds the norm because he combines his customer service experience with organizational and management skills to motivate employees, and communicate with clients (UL Belknap employees in and outside of Physical Plant).”

Team Impact Award Winners

Behind every great accomplishment at the University of Louisville is a team of dedicated employees who worked collaboratively to realize their vision. This exceptional team has had a great impact on the university. As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work.

The Center for Military-Connected Students Team
Team members: Mary Ann Campbell, Carissa Gentry, Kyle Hurwitz, Shannon Putman and Kristen Roy

From the nomination:
“Although new, and only having five members, the Center for Military-Connected Students team demonstrated sustained excellent performance with far reaching, campus wide impacts. The team's efforts resulted in the Governor’s biannual budget allocating $600,000 for the institution to renovate Brodschi Hall for the creation of the Center for Military-Connected Students. The team’s efforts were largely responsible for the institution achieving its highest ever enrollment of military-connected students in 2022.”

Presidential Commission Awards

Commission on the Status of Women (COSW)

The Commission on the Status of Women recognizes the following winners for 2023.

COSW Champion of Advocacy: Jamieca Jones
Jamieca Jones | Women’s Center | Program Coordinator

COSW Champion of Communications: Laura McDaniels
Laura McDaniels | Employee Success Center | Engagement Specialist

COSW Climate & Equity Champion: Savanah Low
Savanah Low | Health Promotion | Coordinator

COSW Commissioner of the Year: Sophonie Bazile
Sophonie Bazile | College of Business | Coordinator Online Student Support, Online Programs

COSW Volunteer of the Year: Sammy-Jo Hand
Sammy-Jo Hand | Health Promotions | Program Coordinator

COSW Catalyst: The Parenting Network Founders
The Parenting Network Founders: Andrew Grubb, Sarah Frankel, Michelle Henderson, Laura McDaniels, Taylor U’Sellis and Meagan West

Commission on Diversity and Racial Equity (CODRE)

  • Presidential Exemplary Multicultural Teaching Award: John Chenault
  • CODRE Commissioner of the Year Award: Daniela Terson de Paleville
  • CODRE Commissioner of the Year Award: Tonia Thomas