Four UNK staff members recognized for their impact on students, campus

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney recognized four staff members Wednesday for their outstanding service to students and UNK as a whole.

UNK Staff Senate President Olivia Whittaker presented the Staff Awards for Excellence to Brenda Jochum, Karen Myers and Dawn Cromer during the annual Faculty/Staff Convocation.

Staff Awards for Excellence are sponsored by UNK and the Jim and Lynn Rundstrom Family Foundation Fund.

The inaugural Staff Award for Inclusive Excellence was also presented during Wednesday’s event. This award recognizes a UNK staff member who demonstrates exemplary commitment to fostering a climate of inclusion and belonging for all students, faculty and staff across campus.

Chief Diversity Officer Maha Younes presented the honor to Jen Harvey.

Each award winner received $1,000 and a plaque.

Brenda Jochum

Jochum has impacted the lives of countless students during her more than 30-year career at UNK.

An associate director in the College of Business and Technology Career Center, she launched the college’s living-learning community last year, allowing students with similar interests and majors to live, study and socialize together on a dedicated residence hall floor. Jochum recruited students to the community and developed programming that allows them to network with each other and with College of Business and Technology faculty and staff.

The program was so successful that many members of the initial class are now returning to serve as peer mentors for incoming students.

Jochum also played a key role in creating an internship program for all majors within the College of Business and Technology. Described by one accrediting organization as “the best program they have seen,” it helps Lopers launch their professional careers.

Karen Myers

Colleagues describe the Calvin T. Ryan Library business manager as caring and considerate – the first one to volunteer or offer support. She makes employees across campus feel appreciated and recognized while building a sense of community and belonging.

Within her department, Myers has participated in and coordinated every search committee – nearly 20 in all – since 2016. While preparing for the ongoing library renovation, 30% of the books were pulled from the shelves to be donated or recycled. Myers spent approximately four hours a day for two months sorting books while completing her regularly assigned duties.

Additionally, she has served as a hostess at commencement and on the Leadership UNK Board of Graduates. She’s currently co-chair of the Staff Senate Employee Recognition Committee, which organizes the annual Staff Recognition Ceremony and presents monthly Employee Achievement and Teamwork Excellence awards.

Dawn Cromer

Known for her efficiency, reliability and accuracy, Cromer serves as business manager in UNK Communications and Marketing.

While taking on more responsibilities from outside her department, she maintains a high level of professionalism and is proactive in searching for ways to streamline processes and generate financial reports. Cromer is able to prioritize her projects while also looking for ways to provide better customer service for students, faculty and staff.

Last year, she played a significant role in working with the NU System and her department to adapt to new changes regarding accounts receivable, accounts payable and contracting.

She’s also been active on campus as a participant in Leadership UNK and the Loper 2 Loper mentoring program.

Jen Harvey

As director of the Thompson Scholars Learning Community, Harvey is committed to serving the needs of students. They are her priority.

“She has made a life-changing impact on hundreds of UNK students who likely would have never graduated from college without her dedication, compassion and genuine care,” her nominator wrote.

Described as a “model UNK citizen who makes a daily impact on the campus and the lives of UNK students,” Harvey has shaped the practice approach to validating students’ identities and lived experiences and promoting their sense of inclusion and belonging. She has presented the ecology of validation approach, which she perfected at national student affairs conferences, and generously shares her knowledge and experience with colleagues on campus and across the country.

Harvey’s impact on students is not only powerful but also far-reaching as they carry with them the culture of inclusion and belonging that she has ingrained in them.

“In teaching, modeling and fostering a culture of validation and inclusion, Jen’s legacy is that she is creating a better world for all of us. She personifies inclusive excellence.”