Staff Appreciation Awards Honor Exceptional Work

portrait of a woman and man, the man(left) has light hair and is wearing a suit, tie, and blazer. the woman(right) has short, curly, dark hair and is wearing a black top

Celebrating dedication, service and exceptional work, this year’s College of Arts & Letters Staff Appreciation Ceremony was held at the Eli & Edythe Broad Museum on June 8. The ceremony honored the years of service given to the College, with the highlight being the group and individual awards that were presented as well as the special recognition given to one staff member who is retiring this year.

“These awards were established to celebrate and acknowledge the commitment and service that each of our staff members display on a daily basis,” said Dean Christopher Long. “It is their dedication to the College of Arts & Letters that makes this college so great. We want these awards to recognize the small and large tasks that our staff carry out every day.”

man shaking hands with woman accepting award
Suzie Manuel Reed accepting Rising Star Award from Dean Christopher Long.

Rising Star Award

Establish last year, this award recognizes non-academic support staff members who have worked in their position at the College of Arts & Letters for one to three years and have shown promise early in their CAL careers with a potential for growth and advancement. It honors those staff members who have exhibited exemplary dedication to the mission of the College and Michigan State University while consistently demonstrating outstanding performance in fulfillment of their job responsibilities.

As the winner of this award, Suzie Manuel Reed received a $500 award and was recognized with a plaque.

“Suzi treats all staff with professionalism and respect, which has greatly benefitted the work environment and also increased performance efficiency across our unit,” said Chris Corneal, Chair of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. “She has effectively created a collegial team atmosphere and faculty enjoy working with her. She is an invaluable resource and an integral part of the department across all phases of its mission.”

man and woman posing for camera with award
Deanna Thomas accepting Exceptional Service Award from Dean Christopher Long.

Exceptional Service Award

This award, which also was established last year, recognizes non-academic support staff members who have worked for the College at least three years and have consistently demonstrated outstanding performance and a commitment to delivering exceptional service. Award recipients anticipate the needs of the College and are proactive and forward thinking in addressing those needs. They also promote productive relationships across the College and University while demonstrating diplomacy and responsiveness.

“Deanna is always polite, friendly, and helpful with everyone she comes into contact with, and I often receive emails from people telling me that she was of great help in solving their problems or answering their questions. She is a multitasker and gets things done quickly,” said David Prestel, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Letters.

Deanna Thomas received a $750 award and was recognized with a plaque.

man smiling with award with a man on one side of him and a woman on the other
Walter Peebles accepting Jo-Ann Vanden Bergh Award from Jo-ann Vanden Bergh and Dean Christopher Long.

Jo-Ann Vanden Bergh Award

Established in 2011, this award is named in honor of Jo-Ann Vanden Bergh, who served the College of Arts & Letters for more than 25 years in various staff positions and who was the award’s first recipient.

As this year’s recipient, Walter Peebles received $1,000 award, a plaque, and will be recognized with a citation and nameplate on the permanent award plaque located in Linton Hall outside the Dean’s office.

“First and foremost, his on-going care and consideration for the students and their needs remain a hallmark of his employment in the department,” Corneal said. “He has endeared himself to many, is an indispensable part of our educational environment, and represents the very best of Michigan State University.”


Diana Shank, Secretary II for the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, who is retiring this year after more than 30 years with the University, was recognized for her years of service.

The impact Diana has made in the department with students, faculty, and our alumni is extraordinary,” said Danielle DeVoss, Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures.

As a way to recognize her career and dedication to the College, a conference room in Bessey Hall will be named in Shank’s honor.

Service Recognition Awards

The Service Recognition Awards, recognizing years of service at the University, also were presented during the ceremony. This year’s Service Recognition Awards went to:

Viki Gietzel, Department of Religious Studies and The MSU Jewish Studies Program  15 years                  
Sherry Stevens, Department of Theatre20 years
Ellen Blonde, College of Arts & Letters Finance Office30 years 
Sue Pung, Department of English35 years