16:35 PM

Distinguished Staff Awards honor outstanding Ohio State achievements

University also names inaugural Michael V. Drake President’s Award recipient

The Distinguished Staff Awards, the university’s highest staff recognition, annually honor individuals for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments and service to The Ohio State University.

Thirteen recipients have been awarded during Ohio State’s Sesquicentennial, which celebrates all that the people of Ohio State have accomplished and all that is yet to come. Nominees are assessed on criteria consistent with the university’s values, as well as the individual’s contributions to enhance the quality of work life for faculty, staff, students or patients, provide outstanding and ongoing service to university stakeholders, and/or develop creative solutions to increase department or university operations.

This year, one outstanding recipient was awarded the inaugural Dr. Michael V. Drake President’s Award, a special award distinction that recognizes a nominee who demonstrates university values, as well as an exceptional commitment to diversity, community engagement, affordable education and access for all students.

The 2020 Dr. Michael V. Drake President’s Award recipient is:

Melissa Beers

Program Director, Introduction to Psychology
Department of Psychology
19 years

As a national leader in learning outcomes, Beers has developed tools and processes for gathering evidence to improve class activities and assignments, and regularly shares her expertise across the university and beyond. She has worked on many university-wide programs that increase access and success at Ohio State, including the new general education curriculum, digital affordability programs and an open textbook program.


The 2020 Distinguished Staff Award recipients are:

Jennie Babcock

Undergraduate Program Director
College of Social Work
25 years

Babcock played an integral role in the oversight, launch and success of expanding the social work program at four regional campuses, which led to significant increases in students graduating with social work degrees. In addition to writing the college’s first online course and supervising online course development, she led the development of the Child Welfare and Substance Misuse and Addiction minor degree programs.

Carol Eskay

Rehabilitation Services Manager
Outpatient Rehabilitation
Wexner Medical Center
17 years

Eskay’s innovation and devotion has resulted in greater patient care, expanded services, facility improvements and a neurological outpatient rehabilitation program that is recognized as a gold standard for similar programs across the country. She is integral in the treatment of complex patient injuries and created a feedback initiative to improve the patient experience.

Robert Griffiths

Associate Vice President
Office of Distance Education and eLearning
12 years

Under Griffiths’ leadership, Ohio State is ranked No. 1 for online bachelor’s programs and in the top 20 for all online programs considered in the named U.S. News and World Report rankings. In his work across all 15 colleges and four regional campuses, he generates high-quality online courses and programs while devoting himself to personal and professional relationships with all team members and university colleagues.

Renee Johnston

School Secretary
School of Environment and Natural Resources
25 years

Through her commitment to using data to inform decisions and actions, Johnston created express services for advising appointments that enabled students to have immediate advising needs met. She has also been instrumental to the creation of curriculum roadmaps that improved retention and four-year graduation rates by helping students better plan and sequence their courses.

Suzanne Knott

Office Administrative Associate
Division of Surgical Oncology
Department of Surgery
College of Medicine
10 years

With notable energy, inventiveness and dedication to helping others, Knott developed a comprehensive system and seminars for promotion and tenure. She also helps guide laboratory careers of young researchers and places students with lab experiences. Additionally, she initiated an effort at the Stefanie Spielman Breast Cancer Center to reduce scheduling time for mastectomy patients.

Jill Morris

Senior Grants Specialist
Institute for Population Research
College of Arts and Sciences
12 years

Morris assists researchers across the university in grant application management, resulting in $45 million in external funds for the university. Her willingness to share her expertise has earned her the respect and trust of colleagues across the nation. Her expertise, attention to detail and collaborative nature positively impact faculty and staff research and advance the university’s mission.

Steven Mousetes

Program Manager, Biomedical Science Major
Department of Biomedical Education and Anatomy
College of Medicine
15 years

Mousetes is an expert in counseling students in the biomedical science major as well as other students seeking his guidance. In addition to academic advising, he participates in recruitment, orientation and fiscal matters. He has cultivated new programs and curricula that increase student success. His willingness to help makes him integral in many students’ decisions to become a Buckeye and flourish throughout their undergraduate careers.

Andrew Mueller

Director of Conard Learning Center
Ohio State University at Mansfield
12 years

Mueller has created new initiatives and protocols that are indispensable to the Mansfield campus. He continually works to expand the Conard Learning Center’s impact through efficiencies, without increasing budget and even saving more than $20,000 per year. Under his leadership and compassionate approach to helping students, the center completed 10,600 student consultation hours last year with 93% of the students passing their courses.

Stephanne Musser

Assistant Director for Fitness Services
Department of Recreational Sports
Office of Student Life
7 years

Musser has created opportunities for nearly half a million faculty, staff and students to be physically active, and her leadership has created a culture of wellness that inspires Buckeyes to lead healthy, balanced lives. Under her leadership, the fitness area has undergone enhanced programming and efficiencies, consistent growth in group fitness and increased revenue for personal trainer education.

Patricia Strope

Information Associate
Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures
College of Arts and Sciences
29 years

Known as the heart and soul of the center, Strope serves an integral role in student, faculty and staff success. Always going above and beyond to make sure everyone’s needs are met, she uses her extensive knowledge, calm demeanor and problem-solving skills to find practical and logical solutions.

Brian Strzempkowski

Assistant Director
Center for Aviation Studies
College of Engineering
13 years

Strzempkowski has been instrumental in making Ohio State one of 20 universities worldwide to teach the Aircraft Dispatch Program. His contributions have resulted in a comprehensive curricular change and created online teaching methods that will be implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration for students nationwide.

Cory Tressler

Director, Learning Programs/Digital Flagship
Office of Distance Education and eLearning
11 years

Tressler has led and implemented many university-wide initiatives that prepare students for college, enhance eLearning and help faculty design course content. As a leader of the Digital Flagship initiative, which has provided more than 23,000 iPads to undergraduate students to date, he is an advocate for student access to technology, affordable course content and engaging programs. Additionally, his teaching and learning innovations and the creation of an accessible coding curriculum were significant contributors to Ohio State being recognized with the Apple Distinguished School designation since 2015.

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