Honoring excellence in service: Four staff members recognized for their contributions to CWRU

Staff members at Case Western Reserve University have wide-ranging roles that are crucial to helping the institution thrive. On Wednesday, four individuals were recognized for their contributions to the university’s success during the Staff Service Awards Luncheon.

Christopher Dolwick, David Peck and James Sill were honored with the President’s Award for Distinguished Service, and Elizabeth Banks received the Robin Kramer Volunteer Award. Combined, the four staff members have nearly 100 years of service to Case Western Reserve.

“We greatly value your commitment to excellence in your work, and I am grateful that we have gathered today to celebrate your accomplishments,” President Barbara R. Snyder said at Wednesday’s event. “You each help to keep Case Western Reserve among the nation’s best research universities.”

Each year, after a nomination process open to the university community, the Staff Advisory Council Staff Recognition Committee recommends winners for the awards to President Snyder.

President’s Award for Distinguished Service

The President’s Award for Distinguished Service was created in honor of Roseanne Shaerban, a university employee “whose qualities and commitment set a standard for distinguished service.”

The award is a recognition for those who have a transformational effect on faculty, staff, students and guests.

Up to three non-faculty staff members are chosen for the award each year. The honorees receive a $1,000 cash award.

Christopher Dolwick, circulation manager, serials and cataloging assistant in the Cleveland Health Sciences Library

In his nearly 25 years at Case Western Reserve, Christopher Dolwick has led the Cleveland Health Sciences Library in moves multiple times. And even during what many would consider a daunting task, Dolwick is steadfast, and ultimately thrives.

Photo of Christopher Dolwick

Always willing to take on any task, Dolwick will finish all projects that land on his desk “correctly, precisely and under budget”—not to mention well before the set deadline.

His nominator called him “the kind of employee that employers dream of.”

Dolwick volunteers with the Cleveland Medical Library Association as a liaison to the association, the Dittrick Medical History Center and the Cleveland Health Sciences Library. His role with the association involves advising, mentoring and creating programming. He also is an advisor to Zeta Beta Tau and Phi Delta Epsilon. His interactions with students are particularly noteworthy, as he supports them during the process of applying for graduate schools.

“Ultimately, because of how dedicated Chris is to CWRU, he gives so much of his time and energy to improving the lives, the success, the people and communities across campus,” his nominator wrote. “We are infinitely better because of him.”

David Peck, department manager in the Department of Pharmacology

In the Department of Pharmacology, David Peck is recognized for his effective stewardship. His role is multi-pronged, and through his experience, resourcefulness and creativity, he supports many functions and people within the department.

Photo of David Peck

Peck, who has worked at the university for 22 years, is instrumental in ensuring the department is both safe and efficient, whether he’s helping a new faculty member establish their lab, training faculty, students or postdoctoral scholars on how to use specialized equipment, or completing other functions crucial to keeping research going in the department. He’s also known for ensuring the department is in line with all compliance policies.

Additionally, Peck maintains the department’s website, and is a “gatekeeper and facilitator” for faculty wishing to advertise and recruit on the website.

And, crucially, every year, Peck assists in overseeing planning of the department’s two-day retreat. In advance of the event, he is tasked with ensuring the technology will be ready and organizing trainee presentations. Even during the event, Peck’s job is not done, as he continues to maintain technology throughout. 

“He has been a part of the fabric of our department and glued us together,” one faculty member said of Peck.

James Sill, department manager in the Department of Chemistry

A go-to problem solver for faculty, staff and students in the chemistry department, James Sill is always willing to drop what he’s doing to help others. In fact, he often stays late to complete tasks that went unfinished while he was busy assisting others. And even on days when the staff is encouraged to leave the office early, Sill remains behind, always willing to stay until 5 p.m. just in case someone needs help.

Photo of James Sill

Sill, who has worked at the university for nearly 32 years, also is a steady presence behind much of the Department of Chemistry’s success in grant funding. His expertise on the topic has been recognized on a broader level, being asked by the College of Arts and Sciences’ dean’s office to assist in submitting a grant to the National Science Foundation.  

But Sill’s caring nature and dedication to the success of the department—and the university—go beyond his job functions. When one student was in crisis last year with concerns over grades, Sill personally walked the student over to Counseling Services.

“If one person were irreplaceable in the department, it would be Jim Sill,” his nominator wrote. “Yet despite how important he is, he is so humble.”

Robin Kramer Volunteer Award

Established in honor of the late employee Robin Kramer, this award goes to those whose volunteer work stands out for the impact it has had on the campus community. Kramer, who passed away in 2013, was known for her dedication to the university.

The individual selected for this award receives a $500 cash award.

Elizabeth Banks, director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning

Volunteerism is at the heart of Elizabeth “Betsy” Banks’ work at the university. In her role at the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning, Banks is charged with connecting students with opportunities to give back on campus and beyond.

Photo of Elizabeth "Betsy" Banks

One nominator wrote that she has “created systems and programs to ensure that volunteer work is caring, culturally sensitive, community-based, and socially just.”

But Banks, who has been at the university for nearly 21 years, does more than just encourage others to get involved; she also leads by example and supports the university in several endeavors. She has served on the Sustained Dialogue Assessment Team and the Professional Development Committee and participated in a working group to address food insecurity on campus. She also facilitates Diversity 360 sessions during orientation and continues to attend trainings on diversity and inclusion.

Recently, she served as co-chair of the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement Committee, a key initiative that will help evaluate the university’s community engagement and set the agenda for future initiatives.

Banks is “kind, patient, empathetic and an invaluable resource” and “sees the “positive possibilities in all communities,” her nominator wrote.