KU announces October, November 2021 Employees of the Month

Fri, 12/10/2021

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas recently announced the October and November 2021 Employees of the Month. They are as follows:

October 2021 Employees of the Month

Name: Jim Gergen

Title: Enterprise architect, Information Technology

Jim Gergen has over 20 years of service with the University of Kansas. He works mostly with the Oracle Financials system and PeopleSoft Human Resources system and has served as the IT lead for the FITC and HR/Pay 9.2 upgrade. He has exceptional technical skills not only within his area of responsibility, but all things IT. He is a valuable resource to his department and team.

Gergen is known for his dedication, problem-solving skills and great customer service. A colleague said, “If something is down, I can depend on Jim to assist me in finding the solution and get it fixed quickly and correctly.” He is considered the “go-to” person for many different questions in IT, and he is always willing to help both his team members and clients. Another colleague said, “He goes beyond expectations by striving to understand systems outside of his area and provides his expert knowledge and advice on how everything should work together.” Gergen is a hard worker and cares deeply about the work that he does, taking on some of the most challenging and complex tasks to ensure system upgrades are completed. He is passionate about helping others and always ensures a solution can be found.

Name: Julie McClenahan

Title: Administrative associate and document specialist for International Support Services

Julie McClenahanJulie McClenahan prepares and produces immigration documents for new incoming international students at KU. This includes analyzing and reviewing application materials to determine which documents are needed, reviewing proof of finances, ensuring compliance with regulations, issuing the appropriate immigration documents and preparing pre-arrival information for mailing and distribution. Serving as a designated school official for F-1 international students and an alternate responsible officer for J-1 exchange visitors coming to KU, McClenahan communicates daily with departments on campus and newly admitted students abroad regarding their immigration document issuance and visa questions, to arrival and orientation transitions.

A colleague said, “Julie is extremely self-driven, customer experience focused and innovative with an impeccable work ethic.” McClenahan is known for her creative ideas and ability to implement solutions to complex issues. She leads the document production and compliance aspects for ISS and supports brand new students who are embarking on their journey of studying abroad in the United States. She is always conscientious of the student experience and proactively improves systems to aid with recruitment and yield. As a result of COVID-19, McClenahan revolutionized all areas of the new international experience. She took it upon herself to rebuild the student portal and corresponding website information to make it more accessible and informative. McClenahan goes above and beyond to support her team members, and she is always willing to learn new skills to support the department.  She is thoughtful and shows she cares about her team.

November Employees of the Month

Name: Ben Brown

Title: Art/design lab specialist with the School of Architecture & Design

Ben Brown, KU Employee of the MonthBen Brown is responsible for managing the suite of shop spaces, including the wood and metal shops, computer numerical control routers, laser cutting and 3D printing lab, robotics lab and the fabrication warehouse. Additionally, he and the shop crew serve the facilities beyond the craft shops – such as reallocating classroom furniture and other resources, strategic planning and safety measures.

Brown provides exceptional support to KU students, faculty and staff. A colleague said, “Ben is smart, resourceful, open-minded and always willing to assist whoever needs his help.” He is truly dedicated to serving the mission of his department and university, and he can often be found helping complete a quick turnaround on a project or assisting his department by serving on various committees. One example of his dedication to excellence is that in the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only did Brown adjust lab spaces and equipment to meet new safety standards, he also mobilized a small workforce for design and began 3D printing protective mask shields for distribution to front-line health care workers.  Brown is well-known in his unit for his wealth of knowledge and shares his unique skill set with everyone in the Architecture & Design program. A colleague said, “So much of the success of students, faculty and staff is made possible through contributions by Ben. He’s an integral and critical component of both our team and the university.”

Name: Sara Chavez

Title: Case manager for Student Support and Case Management in Student Affairs

Sara Chavez, KU Employee of the MonthSara Chavez meets with students who experience barriers, such as health challenges or financial needs at KU. Chavez has an average caseload of 20-40 students at a time and works with hundreds of students over the course of a year. Additionally, Chavez oversees the daily operations of the Campus Cupboard, which provides free food and hygiene products to students, faculty and staff on campus. She also runs the Emergency Aid Network meetings and fund distribution and meets with students to address financial insecurity.  

Those who work with Chavez note her dedication and passion for students. A colleague said, “Sara shows up to work every day with the intention of creating a safe and welcoming place for our students, exudes compassion and care for students of all life experiences and works diligently to ensure the SSCM office is a space rooted in social justice and exemplified in all student and campuswide interactions.” Chavez continuously searches for ways to improve the services offered by her office and develop herself professionally. She has completed mental health trainings and higher education case management trainings to better serve the students she assists. A co-worker said, “Sara is a reliable, consistent and positive colleague who is always forward-thinking and has students at the forefront of all that she does.”

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