Derek Schnapp
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Two University of Illinois Springfield employees were honored with Chancellor’s awards recognizing academic professional and civil service excellence during a ceremony in the Student Union Ballroom on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

The Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award was presented to Kelsea Gurski, associate chancellor for public affairs and chief of staff.

Gurski has worked at UIS for four years. She has been the chief operating leader for the university’s COVID/United in Safety response. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Spring 2020, Gurski partnered with both chancellors and other campus leaders to develop guidance and procedures for prioritizing campus health and safety.

 “The amount of transparency Kelsea has brought to the Chancellor’s Office has been really positive to UIS as a whole. The weekly COVID updates are only one example. She has gone above and beyond to help all of us feel secure and that our university is in good hands,” said her nominator. “She has provided an open door throughout her daily work. She is always responsive to inquiries by staff members and just a positive person with a friendly demeanor, and just a joy to work with.”

From the United in Safety campaign and Return to the Prairie plan to leading the Rapid Response Team, Gurski has also served as a liaison between many other mission critical efforts and the office of the Chancellor.

Gurski is also affiliated with both a statewide and national group for individuals that serves in similar roles as hers. She is also part of a professional group in the community for women in communication roles, including serving two years as a board member. Outside of UIS, she serves as a board member for Helping Hands of Springfield and is part of its fundraising committee.

Others nominated for the 2022 CAPE Award include Bethany Bilyeu, Craig McFarland, Bryan Rives, Shannon Smith, Teresa Szabo and Jorge Villegas.

The Chancellor’s Award to Recognize Excellence in Civil Service (CARE) was presented to Jill Ralph, administrative assistant in facilities and services. Ralph came to UIS in 2019.

“Jill has been a wonderful addition to the Facilities and Services team. She has such a welcoming personality and willingness to help even if it’s not her area,” says her nominator. “I cannot tell you how many times I have called or emailed her with a question. She responds with a positive attitude, and if it’s something she can’t help with, she finds the person who can. She genuinely cares and it shows in the work she does and the relationships she has built.”

Her supervisor says her job knowledge and skills, well exceed expectations and the quality of her work and the attention to detail she demonstrates daily is nothing short of outstanding. She has facilitated all of the COVID signage production, ordering and installation. She took the lead in procuring, accounting for and distributing almost every COVID supply that Facilities and Services provided the university.

“Jill’s ability to accurately identify potential problems in budgets, payment applications, material invoices, contract documents, etc. has proven to be invaluable to Facilities and Services,” says her supervisor. “Her positive work ethic has been infectious throughout the office. She is an efficient productive and highly respected employee and a critical asset to the university.”

Others nominated for the CARE Award include Gary Anderson, David Hecht, Laura Hecht, Carlene Hindert, Kaylee Hubbard, Taylor McCarthy, Jason Noyes, Samantha Riss, Denise Rothenbach, Anna Schoenherr and Blake Wood.

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