For the first time since 2019, the Andy Awards ceremony returned in person to a full McConomy Auditorium, where members of the university community celebrated seven individuals and two teams for their outstanding contributions to Carnegie Mellon.
The Andy Awards, a university-wide staff recognition program named for Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon, pay tribute to staff for their exceptional performance in six categories: Commitment to Excellence; Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Commitment to Students; Innovative and Creative Contributions; Spirit; and Teamwork and Collaboration.
“Make no mistake, our staff have helped Carnegie Mellon become a world-class institution,” said President Farnam Jahanian in his opening remarks at the Nov. 11 ceremony. “You help us expand our reputation as a global university that’s transforming society with big ideas, thought-provoking creations, bold discoveries and a truly welcoming environment.
“Across all our award categories, staff are working to strengthen and support our research and academic mission and enable our faculty, students and alumni to be successful,” Jahanian said. “You help us deliver on the extraordinary potential of this institution and keep our day-to-day operations running smoothly. You make it all happen, and you often do it quietly, behind closed doors without expectation of praise. Your work truly matters to the success of our institution.”
And without further ado, the Andys go to …
At the Andy Awards ceremony, Staff Council presented Years of Service awards to staff members for their 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of service to Carnegie Mellon. Pictured above are Staff Council Vice Chair Matt D’Emilio, 45-year staff members Patricia Steranchak and James Martin, and President Farnam Jahanian.
See Years of Service honorees.
Patti Pavlus died this past August after a long, courageous battle with cancer, but her extraordinary dedication and service to Carnegie Mellon and the College of Fine Arts for nearly 40 years will not soon be forgotten.
Pavlus joined CMU in 1983 and held several important positions in the CFA Dean’s Office. At the time of her passing, she managed the financial and administrative functions of the college, including budgeting, payroll, human resources, facilities management, and the promotion and tenure process for faculty. She was a member of CMU’s Administrative Leadership Group and the Academic Business Managers Council.
“She was the indispensable right hand of numerous deans, the supportive colleague of countless peers and a walking, talking encyclopedia available to just about everyone in the college,” said CFA Dean Mary Ellen Poole. “Have a question about an obscure policy? Ask Patti. Need to know the criteria for a particular endowment? Ask Patti.
“From the time I arrived as a new dean, I realized that Patti would be my primary teacher as I acclimated to a new job with a much broader scope, as well as the cultural expectations of a singular campus. The context she provided was invaluable,” Poole said.
Vice President and General Counsel Mary Jo Dively called Pavlus “the best of CMU.”
“She built relationships all over the community, and I witnessed so many times how a problem that might have been thought insolvable would, seemingly magically, just disappear after a quiet chat with Patti,” Dively said. “Throughout her long career, she was the go-to person at CFA for all the other colleges and schools and the central administration. For many years, Patti did it all for CFA.”
CFA Dean Mary Ellen Poole, Vice President and General Counsel Mary Jo Dively and President Farnam Jahanian present the Andy Award to Patti’s husband, Adel Assaad, and sons Alec and Adam.
Dively said Pavlus never permitted herself to be nominated for an Andy Award, believing the spotlight should go to others more deserving. “That really says everything about her,” Dively said.
Former CFA Dean Dan Martin greatly appreciated Pavlus’ “wise counsel and seasoned perspectives.”
“She was the first person I approached when I had some new idea percolating in my head and the last person I consulted, always contributing remarkably astute observations and offering finishing touches that I and others had missed,” Martin said. “For many of the CFA staff, Patti was an extremely effective and much sought-after mentor and advocate.”
Ross Garin, associate head of the School of Music, worked with Pavlus for 21 years.
“Patti’s commitment to CMU, and specifically CFA, was patently clear,” he said. “She went about her work quietly, with humor and grace, and never wanted the spotlight. She worked long hours without complaint, and I do not believe the word ‘no’ was part of her vocabulary.
“On top of all this, and most importantly, she was a delightful person who was always upbeat and positive, even throughout the many years of her fight against cancer,” Garin said.
A memorial fund recognizing Pavlus’ service and commitment to CMU has been established in CFA. Poole said the fund will continue Pavlus’ legacy of supporting staff development.
In just a little over a year at Carnegie Mellon, Keren DeCarlo has proven her ability to get things done, to solve problems and to keep the “MechE train running,” all while juggling challenging staffing issues and the uncertainties associated with the pandemic and the return to campus.
“As her supervisor, I see every day her high level of performance,” said her nominator Dorothy Antonucci, director of finance and operations in Mechanical Engineering. “She is always interested in successfully achieving the goals of the department, [meeting] faculty needs, and mentoring and guiding the administrative team. She does not require much supervision, because she is an independent thinker and problem-solver.”
In addition to managing the administrative team, DeCarlo is involved in most operations, including space allocation, scheduling staff and overseeing faculty support. She also cooperates with the academic team on large student events in the department.
Keren DeCarlo with Staff Council Vice Chair Matt D’Emilio, Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Michelle Piekutowski and President Jahanian.
Several months after joining CMU remotely, she also met the challenge of working with an interim department head, and soon after that took over the major duties of the interim head’s administrative assistant when she left the university. These responsibilities included the department’s annual faculty review and promotion process, and the faculty awards committee.
Professor Jonathan Cagan, who was recently named head of Mechanical Engineering, said DeCarlo went above and beyond her job description in managing it all.
“Not only did she serve the department through these ‘shocks’ to our routine, but did so in a proactive way with exceptional care, skill and professionalism,” Cagan said. “Keren has clearly demonstrated that she is a leader to others. Importantly, through all of this, Keren approaches her job with commitment, a positive (even catchy to others) attitude, and a smile.”
Rachel Teeny said DeCarlo has made the Mechanical Engineering Department a better place to to work.
“Keren joined us remotely, yet immediately developed relationships with her colleagues in MechE,” said Teeny, finance manager for the department. “When the time came to transition back to campus, Keren had already earned the respect of her direct reports. She led the transition of the administrative team back to campus with understanding and respect. Not only did she guide a smooth transition for her team, but she helped (and continues to help) with merging the in-person and virtual work-worlds.”
Administrative coordinator Ying Saowaluk Srimungkla Karg said DeCarlo is dedicated to the team’s success.
“She brings her well-rounded background outside of CMU to our department and team, which enables great solutions,” Karg said. “As my supervisor, Keren is caring, compassionate, and always willing to support her subordinates in whichever way she can.”
For two decades, Kelly Saavedra has shown a steadfast commitment to excellence in a variety of roles — from her days writing correspondence in the President’s Office, to authoring stories for Carnegie Mellon’s homepage, to most recently her work in internal communications.
Kara Kessler, senior marketing manager for University Communications and Marketing, said Saavedra produced excellent work for President Jared Cohon in the early 2000s, helping to triple his written outreach to donors. Her talents helped her to earn the top writing position for CMU’s homepage from 2006-2012.
“Kelly established a reputation for writing memorable stories,” Kessler said in her nominating letter. “She worked seamlessly with her editor to either produce or procure a new story for the homepage every day, five days a week, 52 weeks of the year. She was a true trailblazer.”
Kelly Saavedra with Michelle Piekutowski and President Jahanian.
Kessler also praised Saavedra for being an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, “long before they became buzzwords.”
Over the past 10 years, Saavedra’s work has transitioned to internal communications. She writes news stories and features for The Piper, helps to distribute the many important messages to the campus community on behalf of university leadership, and is a member of CMU’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Team. She also handles the technical aspects of building and sending The Piper each week.
“Kelly takes great care and pride in her work and pays great attention to detail,” said Bruce Gerson, director of internal communications. “She identifies story ideas that promote the university’s brand and values, and she’s a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion. Her stories build community.”
Gerson said Saavedra’s stories are well-read in The Piper and on social media.
“Her news stories, features and profiles on members of the campus community are always thoughtful, informative and entertaining,” he said.
A two-time Andy Award nominee in the teamwork and collaboration category, Saavedra encourages dialogue and respects others and their opinions. She is a member of the Carnegie Mellon Women’s Association (CMWA) and volunteers as a mentor for the Barbara Smith Women’s Mentoring Program.
“As a member of the CMWA, Kelly has been a mentor to many staff throughout the university,” said Pattye Stragar, fitness operations manager for the Department of Athletics. “She works as a volunteer with young writers at CMU to help them build the confidence they need to promote their department or academic unit to the campus community and beyond.
“Kelly is a veteran who has always provided a commitment to excellence by constantly producing excellent work,“ Stragar said. “She serves all her customers with her personal commitment to providing a quality product.”
Following the George Floyd murder in 2020 and the growing unrest in the U.S., Eva Mergner saw a need in Mechanical Engineering for a forum, in which students, faculty and staff could come together to talk and think. She filled that need by helping to create a DEI Taskforce to help the department cope and build community.
Mergner became co-chair of the taskforce and organized the group into four subcommittees — Representation, Outreach, Mentorship, and Education and Training. She worked closely with students, faculty and staff to establish professional development events, peer mentorship and community conversations for the Mechanical Engineering community.
“Eva created a structure and home for students, staff and faculty to talk, explore and act,” said her nominator Jonathan Cagan, head of Mechanical Engineering. “MechE’s positive inclusive environment is a direct result of Eva and her effort.”
Eva Mergner with Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Wanda Heading-Grant and President Jahanian.
Chris Hertz, senior academic program manager in Mechanical Engineering, said Mergner embodies the spirit of innovation and commitment to DEI initiatives.
“As co-chair of the MechE DEI Taskforce she has given a voice to under-represented students, was integral to the hiring of a DEI program coordinator and forged a new mentorship program for our undergraduate and graduate students,” Hertz said. “Justice and equity are her driving forces, and she strives for harmony in each student’s experience.”
Professor Doug Weber called Mergner a “model member of the CMU staff,” and said working with her on the DEI Taskforce is one of the highlights of his work.
“Eva has been instrumental in uplifting the voices of undergrads, graduate students, postdocs and staff members in the Taskforce and has helped and led efforts to foster a more inclusive community at CMU,” Weber said. “Eva turns the needs of the subcommittees into action.”
Academic advisor Michelle Mahouski called Mergner a great leader who understands idea generation and implementation in a team effort.
“She welcomes all ideas during the brainstorming process, is always thinking about new ways to connect with students through community events, and her passion for DEI is shown through her endless dedication to campus and city-wide ogranizations,” Mahouski said.
Professor Mark Bedillion, head of Mechanical Engineering’s Undergraduate Education Committee, credited Mergner with expanding the department’s Student Advisory Council and improving the engagement of SAC members. He said this has led to student-developed community initiatives, such as weekly departmental study sessions.
“This student-centered approach is characteristic of Eva’s work,” Bedillion said. “She takes a holistic view of student development and applies it to drive meaningful change.”
Richelle Bernazzoli has a passion for helping students reach their full potential.
In her six years at Carnegie Mellon, she has mentored hundreds of students from across campus, helping them to identify and pursue undergraduate research opportunities and to apply for prestigious scholarships and fellowships to continue their education. She has advised students and alumni to 37 Fulbright awards, 20 Goldwater awards, and two Marshall awards. She has helped other students receive Schwarzman, Critical Language, Boren and Luce scholarships.
Bernazzoli is an advisor to students in CMU’s Mortar Board National Honors Society and a mentor for the Tartan Scholars program. She encourages students to participate in undergraduate research and to appreciate how it can be an important component of their CMU experience.
“Richelle tirelessly works individually with students and alumni from all over campus for months, working on their personal statements and interview techniques for scholarships such as Fulbright, Goldwater, Marshall, Rhodes and others,” said Jennifer Weidenhof, business administrator and operations coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development. “She often puts in hours in the evenings and weekends to talk with students who may work during daytime hours or are abroad.”
Richelle Bernazzoli with her supporters Korryn Mozisek and Jen Weidenhof.
Arianna Garcia Guerrero, a rising senior and Tartan Scholar who won the prestigious Beineke Scholarship this year, said Bernazzoli taught her to believe in her ability to make an impact and to always lead, act, think, and write with intention.
“There truly are no words to express how grateful and blessed I feel every single day for everything Richelle has done for me,” Garcia Guerrero said. “I am so lucky that I have been able to receive her guidance and support throughout my time here. All the opportunities I have had the chance to be a part of and all of the open doors I have found are largely due to her support and advice along the way.”
Vice Provost for Education Amy Burkert said Bernazzoli is a role model for advisors and faculty.
“She has set the standards of excellence and inclusion in all that she does and she is always seeking to find ways to improve student growth and development, and to broaden access to high impact educational opportunities,” Burkert said.
“Richelle changes students’ lives for the better, each and every day. She helps them see the power and potential they possess and opens the doors to opportunities they may not know about before meeting her. She is always looking beyond what is, to what could, or in some cases, should be.”
Prior to entering academia, Bernazzoli spent nine years in the Army National Guard and served in the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
Andrew Greenwald, who recently became assistant director for First-Year Orientation and Family Engagement, embodies the school spirit at Carnegie Mellon like no one else, say his nominator and supporters.
Elizabeth Koch, director of operations and engagement for Student Life, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE), said since joining CMU and SLICE in 2014, Greenwald has become “the mastermind” behind some of the university’s most spirited signature events, like Spring Carnival, Scotty Saturday, Winter Welcome and Greek Sing. He gives endless hours and energy into making things just right, she said.
“He can be seen in the Spring Carnival trailer at 10 p.m. during booth build week, at the Senior Toast congratulating students during Senior Week … and in meeting after meeting advising our student leaders who he truly pushes to be the architects of their experiences and programs,” Koch said in her nomination letter. “Andrew has a thoughtful eye for community experiences, making sure that events are welcoming to all populations.”
Andrew Greenwald with his supporters Laurel Bosshard Furlow and Kaycee Palko.
Koch says students love Greenwald, who has worked to help students in areas that go beyond his domain.
“He often had meetings with students that had nothing to do with his job description because they had been referred to him by another student for being so helpful,” Koch said. “He is a strong and vocal advocate for our student organizations serving historically marginalized student populations, helping them create meaningful communities, advocate for campus change, and showing up to cheer them on along the way.
“There really isn’t anything about planning an event or leading an organization on this campus that Andrew does not know,” Koch said.
Laurel Bosshart Furlow has worked closely with Greenwald in planning Spring Carnival, one of the most spirited and largest campus events that involves students, alumni, faculty and staff.
“He understands that building strong, genuine relationships with all members of the community … is the foundation to all of our work because we need each other in order to effectively build programs, projects and, ultimately, community,” Bosshart Furlow said in a supporting letter.
“Andrew is the type of person who leads by example without the need to call attention to himself or his accomplishments. People naturally gravitate to him. Simply put, Andrew absolutely and consistently fosters a spirit of community, creativity, positivity and inclusivity in any and all roles in which he takes on,” she said.
Kaycee Palko, a former SLICE colleague of Greenwald’s, said he played a critical role this past year in bringing Spring Carnival back in person after the pandemic had forced it to be presented in a virtual and hybrid format the previous two years.
“It was a monumental feat!” said Palko, an academic advisor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. “Andrew led the Spring Carnival Stakeholders Committee of 40+ students and staff, representing over 10 departments across campus. This past year seemed daunting and overwhelming for all, but Andrew’s enthusiasm and collaborative spirit motivated and kept everyone moving forward.”
Athena Wintruba’s creativity has led to impressive results at the Integrated Innovation Institute. During her four years (2018-2020) as associate director of admissions, her efforts have led to a 66% increase in applications, far exceeding national trends.
Using Slate, an application management database used by the College of Engineering, Wintruba developed email campaigns to prospective and admitted students. She created a “Tell Me More About Yourself” survey in which students could customize the emails they received.
“Athena is always thinking of new and creative uses of Slate to develop more targeted messaging or workflows to improve the student experience,” said her nominator, Integrated Innovation Institute Director Peter Boatwright. “When she is presented with a new use case, she never hesitates to noodle around in Slate until she has found a way to create a new approach.”
Athena Wintruba celebrates with her wife, Nikki.
Boatwright said Wintruba always makes time to talk with students.
“For Athena, admissions is about individual students instead of numbers, efficiency and process. She innovates out of a passion to improve their experience and to help them succeed in making decisions about next steps,” they said.
Shelley Anna, associate dean for graduate and faculty affairs and strategic initiatives in the College of Engineering, holds a monthly meeting for all graduate program coordinators in the college.
“Athena is one of the most thoughtful and experienced contributors who attend this meeting,” said Anna in a supporting letter. “She takes initiative to pursue new activities designed to create a stronger network among all our graduate programs, and help the college as a whole to more effectively recruit and educate a diverse population of engineering graduate students.”
Anna said Wintruba formed and currently leads the CIT Recruitment Committee, a subgroup of the graduate program coordinators. The committee has created a best practices document on recruiting and admissions for all graduate coordinators, an informational piece on all engineering graduate programs and a college-level brochure for recruiting.
“Athena’s goal of creating materials to help all our staff and faculty recruiters better understand all graduate programs will help us ensure that we can place students in the right program for their career goals, and therefore attract more students across the college,” Anna said. “Her persistence has helped the entire group realize the benefits of coordinating while not losing the unique aspects of each program.”
Devang Gaur, a master’s degree student in the iii, is one of several Admissions Ambassadors, a group Wintruba started to help prospective and incoming students.
“Under her leadership, it has been a great experience helping CMU find the right fit and talent for the Tartan family,” Gaur said.
As student enrollment continues to rise, finding classrooms of the appropriate size for courses with the correct pedagogical set-up during the peak times of 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. has become increasingly hard to do.
For recent semesters, Joy Cavaliero, Nancy Camino, Kensee Lusebrink and John Papinchak in the Office of the University Registrar have become accustomed to finding homes for more than 100 courses, but for Fall 2022, the number of unhoused courses climbed to 246, the highest number on record.
An estimated 500 sections had to be moved to address these unhoused courses since finding a suitably sized classroom space often involved moving a previously scheduled class into yet another space, creating a complex ripple pattern with each successful course placement.
President Jahanian and the University Registrar’s Classroom Scheduling Team: Nancy Camino, Joy Cavaliero and John Papinchak. Not pictured is Kensee Lusebrink.
Lisa Krieg, associate vice president and director of enrollment services, estimates a total of 1,000+ hours of combined effort including evenings and weekends was spent by the team over the spring and summer to place these unhoused courses.
“John, Joy, Nancy and Kensee tirelessly employed their knowledge, skills, patience and collaboration skills to work the problem until all courses were settled into a suitable space, benefitting faculty, serving students and allowing for a smooth beginning to the fall term,” Krieg said.
Small but mighty is the descriptor that comes to mind for Amy Burkert, vice provost for education, when she thinks of the Herculean tasks this team takes on daily each semester.
“I am fortunate to work closely with this group and to have a front row seat to witness the depth and breadth of the impact they make on the student experience, departmental staff functions and faculty educational practice,” Burkert said. “At the core, they assure that the educational mission of the university can be advanced and continually work together to find new and better ways to serve those partners and goals.”
Walt Schearer, associate dean for finance and administration, noted the nature of the problem — the fact that solutions involve compromise — suggests from the outset that the team would have little hope of keeping people happy.
“As shepherds of resources, these folks do an outstanding job looking out for the best interests of every course in every college,” Schearer said. “J.K. Rowling had her Harry Potter characters using charms to solve space problems and curses to motivate people. I suppose this team may have been using similar charms or curses without my knowledge this summer, but I think their solutions more likely involved some serious creativity in problem solving, considerable endurance and some straightforward powers of persuasion.”
With no playbook to follow, the Carnegie Mellon Cloud Lab team came together to create the first cloud lab at an academic institution, which will fundamentally change how science is done far beyond the walls of Carnegie Mellon University.
The CMU Cloud Lab is a remote-controlled, automated research lab that will include more than 200 unique scientific instruments for life sciences and chemistry, giving CMU and its affiliated researchers unprecedented access to new tools, data and methods for research. Construction of this $40 million facility is already underway near Bakery Square.
The team came together rapidly and within two years and has put together what will be an entirely new university resource that is unprecedented anywhere in the world and is transforming CMU and an approach to science.
The Cloud Lab Team with President Jahanian.
Among their achievements, the team identified and secured a space for the Cloud Lab in Pittsburgh; created a plan for what the lab should look like; created a financial model for it; worked with device manufacturers to secure sponsorship for scientific equipment; and developed and implemented a comprehensive plan for training people how to use the lab.
“These are things that no single individual could accomplish, since it requires expertise in scientific instrumentation, understanding of how humans interact with machines, and development and delivery of educational content,” said Bruce Armitage, professor and head of the Department of Chemistry. “Our team combines these capabilities with the excitement and passion of a group of people knowing they are working on something truly extraordinary.”
Like the creation of the first computer science department and the founding of artificial intelligence, the CMU Cloud Lab will be among the many storied firsts of CMU, and it would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication, commitment and ingenuity of the Cloud Lab team, according to Rebecca Doerge, the Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science.
“The sheer creativity, initiative and problem solving by this team is nothing short of superlative,” said Subha Das, associate professor of chemistry. “They have mobilized a university community of faculty, staff, students and alumni in a way that I have not seen in more than a decade.”
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