Outstanding NAU employees honored with President’s Achievement Award

NAU President Rita Cheng smiles and shakes the hand of Tim Darby

Several employees have been recognized for excelling in their professional roles, promoting a positive sense of community in the workplace and actively supporting the mission of Northern Arizona University.

Ten NAU employees were selected for the 2016 President’s Achievement Award, considered the highest staff recognition from the university. Classified staff and service professionals are eligible to be nominated by peers or supervisors. The recipients, pictured below, each received a $1,000 award and were honored at a luncheon on Wednesday, May 4, hosted by President Rita Cheng.


2016 President’s Achievement Award Winners


Christine Baca
Christine Baca

Christine Baca – Dental Hygiene
Nominated by Tracye Moore

“Chris has been dedicated to NAU for 24 years, with 13.5 years in the Dental Hygiene department. As a previous CSAC Peer Recognition award winner, it is clear that Chris is a highly valued member of our NAU team. She always demonstrates outstanding work ethic and eagerly accepts tasks with a cheerful attitude. No task is too difficult for her and she does not hesitate to volunteer to aid the department in any capacity. Chris is always focused on our departmental mission as well as the university’s mission, and truly exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding NAU employee.” – Trayce Moore 



Christal Black
Christal Black

Christal Black – Chemistry/Native American Cancer Prevention
Nominated by Jani Ingram

“The enthusiasm Christal has for helping Native American students with research experiences as well as professional development opportunities is award worthy. Christal understands first-hand situations students face and how to best assist them as she is an NAU graduate and a member of the Navajo Nation. She has been instrumental in the development of culturally appropriate practices for recruiting and retaining Native American undergraduate students—work that is being recognized nationally as an important approach for working with Native American students.” – Jani Ingram 



Troy Campbell
Troy Campbell

Troy Campbell – Housing and Residence Life
Nominated by Bianca Hey

“Troy, a residence hall director, is extremely genuine and always takes a student-centered approach, which makes him well-loved by everyone at the university. In fact, this spring, three different fraternity and sorority chapters nominated Troy to be awarded Faculty Member of the Year at the annual Order of Omega Greek Awards Banquet. He is a mentor to many at NAU and exemplifies what it means live NAU in his everyday life by being a positive representation of the NAU mission, values and goals.”  – Bianca Hey




Joelle Clark

Joelle Clark – Center for Science Teaching and Learning
Nominated by Jane Kirkley

“Joelle has been an integral part of the Center for Science Teaching and Learning for almost 18 years. Her leadership as a professional development coordinator and now as associate director has garnered incredible respect for our organization throughout the state and the nation as a strong supporter of and advocate for quality science and STEM education. Joelle is a compassionate colleague and leads by example. I, for one, know I am a better person and professional because of her guidance, leadership and friendship.” – Jane Kirkley




Tim Darby
Tim Darby

Tim Darby – e-Learning
Nominated by Larry MacPhee

“Tim has been a quietly outstanding employee at NAU for a very long time and his dedication and service are deserving of recognition. He has improved the efficiency of so many of our technical support processes, such as purchasing, inventory and equipment management, and he has volunteered to present e-Learning Center to various departments, which has resulted in an increased use of our services by faculty. Tim is hardworking, thoughtful and considerate and works tirelessly to make sure that students have the best possible experience at NAU.” – Larry Mach




Dana Middlebrook
Dana Middlebrook

Dana Middlebrook – Graduate College
Nominated by Carlene Klein

“Dana deeply respects the mission and vision for NAU and proves that daily with her outstanding performance working with graduate students. She is always advocating for students and prioritizing their best interests above all else. Dana is regularly praised by colleagues and students for her kind, welcoming, genuine demeanor and her proactive mentorship skills, which include developing training and handbooks outlining all things related to graduate assistants. Dana is truly an employee of distinction for the Graduate College and the university as a whole.” – Carlene Klein





Rhonda Powers
Rhonda Powers

Rhonda Powers – Campus Recreation
Nominated by Erik Jaeke

“Rhonda has worked at NAU since the 1980s and has risen from an entry-level position to director of our department. At every level, she’s far exceeded expectations to provide quality, innovative programs and facilities to our students. One of Rhonda’s greatest strengths is the promotion of positive interpersonal relationships, within the university and the community. Her leadership and lifelong dedication to NAU make her incredibly deserving of this prestigious award.” – Erik Jaeke 





Marie Sather

Marie Sather – CEFNS Academic Advising
Nominated by Kathleen Corak

Marie’s stellar academic advising contributions are recognized by staff and students alike. This year, she received an Advisor of the Year nomination, has managed the duties of as many as three positions during job vacancies and continues to better herself by enrolling in a multitude of training workshops to help strengthen her advisory skills. She has also worked with faculty to create a new, college-based Learning Community for engineers.  Marie is an exceptional employee who personifies NAU’s value to serve students well and continually finds new ways of doing so.” – Kathleen Coral




Ed Smith

Ed Smith – Information Technology Services
Nominated by Dan Stoffel

For almost 25 years, Ed has been quietly but steadfastly supporting the people and applications that provide NAU with a robust, reliable online learning environment. Without his tireless dedication, those of us who are on the front lines would not be able to do our jobs. Ed seeks neither accolades nor public recognition–he’s always focused on the ultimate goal: superior service to students. He is a one-man encyclopedia of learning management and the epitome of what it means to be an exceptional NAU employee.” – Dan Stoffel





Mary Kate Wolter
Mary Kate Wolter

Mary Kate Wolter – NAU Foundation/Development
Nominated by Carlene Klein

“Mary Kate is an excellent example of an NAU employee with superb interpersonal skills. She has a unique gift when sharing her knowledge with others. Her positive attitude is effortless and completely genuine. Mary Kate is known by many to be a wealth of information regarding the Foundation’s policies and procedures and someone who is a pleasure with whom to work. She’s always kind and willing to help out in a pinch. Mary Kate is truly an individual whose performance far exceeds NAU’s expectations.”
– Carlene Klein