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2004 Research Staff Recognition Awards

Distinguished Research Administrator Award

Betty Cummings, Administrative Manager for the Solid-State Electronics Laboratory (SSEL) in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering, has served the University of Michigan for more than 35 years. In 1966, she was first hired as a secretary for the Electron Physics Laboratory, the SSEL's predecessor. She was the administrator for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1980 to 1986, a period when the Department's research portfolio grew from $5 million per year to $35 million per year. she managed this growth and well as overseeing many of the challenges faced when EECS moved from its Central Campus quarters to a new building on North Campus. In 1987, Betty moved to her current position. SSEL is one of the largest labs on campus and requires Betty to manage a large operation with many sophisticated facilities and many users from both inside and outside the University. Betty also makes important contributions elsewhere at the University, serving the College of Engineering safety program and fundraising efforts. She serves on a number of campus-wide committees, such as the Laboratory Supplies Oversight Committee and the oversight group for the Research Administrator Instructional Network (RAIN). Betty also serves as a RAIN instructor for financial management topics.
She is an incredible role model who has contributed in many ways to the continuing excellence of the University of Michigan. Betty is an absolutely superb research administrator, is very well versed in all research policies, and has served as a trainer and excellent source of information for faculty and staff.

Francine Hume is Departmental Administrator for the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in the Medical School. She began working at the University in 1985 as a research secretary for the Kresge Hearing Research Institute. She later became the Institute's business manager. In 1996, Hume moved to the Department of Biological Chemistry, where she applied her administrative skills until 2000, when she moved to her current position. In the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Hume has helped guide the department through major growth and reorganization of both the research activity and the departmental administration. Her knowledge has proven to be a resource tapped not only by her academic department, but by her colleagues across campus. She served on the Medical School's quality improvement team, served on a campus committee exploring "electronic research administration," along with countless informal consultations with other research administrators.
Francine is an outstanding employee and an outstanding leader, and we are lucky to have her serving the University. Her success comes from the fact that she is able to manage problems in a friendly way. She can simultaneously define a problem, suggest a solution and joke about the entire situation in a way that puts everyone at ease.

Heather Offhaus first began working in the Medical School Grants Office ten years ago as a temporary employee. She never planned to stay long, but the "craft" of research administration piqued her interest so much that she has worked there ever since, rising to her current position as Director. The Grants Office processes all research proposals originating from the 1400 Medical School faculty members. This activity comprises both the highest volume and highest dollar value in proposals and awards of any unit on campus. And because so many proposals involve faculty from multiple departments, centers, institutes and interdisciplinary groups, Offhaus must work with many constituencies in the Medical School (and elsewhere on campus). To facilitate cooperation, Offhaus chairs a monthly administrator's meeting involving the lead research administrators from across the school. Offhaus has also provided key administrative support for many large and complex projects, and she helped in the development of new and powerful software tools that the Medical School now uses to collect data and track the success of Medical School research grants. The tools permit quick and easy access to submission and success rates that make other planning much more effective. The cooperation fostered by Ms. Offhaus improves the School's ability to successfully compete for interdisciplinary projects where administrative cooperation is a necessity. She is critical to ensuring compliance on all proposals that leave the Medical School.

OVPR Exceptional Service Award

Jane Ritter is an Administrative Assistant II in the Office of Research. Ritter first came to the University in 1995 where she worked in the Department of Psychiatry. In 1998, she moved to OVPR as an Executive Secretary and was promoted to her current position in 2000. In her relatively short tenure at OVPR, Ritter has undertaken an impressive range of duties and tasks, from providing administrative support to several senior level administrators, to instituting innovative methods to gather and disseminate information on individual projects for the office, and serving as key support person for the complex Ford Reactor decontamination and decommissioning project. As each year passes, it seems that Ritter successfully assumes new responsibilities without fall-off of any previous duties. Her nominators specifically highlighted the tremendously effective job by Ritter in leading the preparations for a major OVPR-sponsored conference in November 2003 about nanoscience and technology. She devoted many hours (including much time after normal business hours) to seeing that the arrangements were all addressed. On the weekend of the symposium, Ritter provided key staffing from early morning through the banquet on day two, all the while impressing all involved with her professionalism and grace.
Jane is clearly someone who is not satisfied with just doing what is expected of her; she is obviously invested in trying to excel in each detail of a project or program. In all of her efforts, she demonstrates exceptional organizational skills and clerical abilities.