The University of St. Thomas will hold its fourth annual Faculty and Staff Recognition Awards Celebration on Friday, April 1, and will present special awards for outstanding service by its staff to the university and the community.
The celebration begins at 3:30 p.m. in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium, with a reception to follow in the third-floor lounge of Murray-Herrick Campus Center. All St. Thomas faculty and staff and guests have been invited to attend.
The celebration honors everyone who works at St. Thomas, especially service award-winners, recent retirees and those celebrating hiring anniversaries.
A highlight of this year’s event is the presentation of Distinguished Citizen Award to a staff member and a Diversity Leadership Award to an academic unit or individual, recognizing outstanding achievements beneficial to the St. Thomas community.
Individual awards carry with them a professional development budget or paid leave time to engage in community activities. Committees review nominations each year. Commemorative plaques also are given to the winners.
This year’s Distinguished Citizen Award selection committee members were Ann Bateson, School of Law; Mike Barrett, Public Safety; Linda Halverson, Administration; John McCall, Opus College of Business; and Edna Comedy, Human Resources.
Serving on the Diversity Leadership Award selection committee were Denise Dieffenbach, Multicultural Student Services; Mark Jensen, University Relations; Dr. Kerry Frank, Graduate School of Professional Psychology; and Susan Spray, Development.
Distinguished Citizen Award winner
Gayle Lamb, manager of cash operations for Dining Services, will receive the Distinguished Citizen Award. The award honors a St. Thomas staff member whose contributions reflect the qualities of good citizenship, such as providing service to others and advancing the common good for the campus and broader communities.
Lamb will receive a 40-hour, paid recognition leave to engage in community activities with a nonprofit organization of her choice. A longtime resident of south Minneapolis’ Powderhorn neighborhood, she began working at St. Thomas in 1986.
When crime, including drugs and prostitution, threatened to overtake her neighborhood in the mid-1980s, Lamb and her husband became involved with the Powderhorn block club and other resident-activists to mobilize the neighborhood against crime.
Lamb soon became chair of the block club, which in the 1990s formed a partnership with the Minneapolis police to stabilize neighborhood life. During that time she also promoted the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, which encourages community members to create action plans to improve their neighborhoods.
Lamb remains active in neighborhood concerns and has held every possible position on her housing co-op board, on which she is now treasurer. With her leadership the board has invested more than $650,000 in improvements for the 22-unit housing cooperative over 10 years. Today the co-op has $55,000 in reserves.
Also an active member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church since joining in 1987, Lamb has been a Sunday school teacher, president of the congregation and volunteer treasurer with the church. She serves on its hospitality and property committees.
“Gayle Lamb is a St. Thomas treasure, a person who I am humbled to know,” wrote Dr. Mary Ann Ryan, executive director of Campus and Residence Life at St. Thomas. “While we are certainly all blessed to call her a citizen of our community, she is also a distinguished citizen of the Twin Cities community.”
Diversity Leadership Award winner
Dr. Bruce Kramer, dean of the College of Applied Professional Studies, will receive the Diversity Leadership Award “for reaching out to the community in an effort to create more diversity within CAPS,” according to Ea Porter, enrollment adviser in the School of Education, who nominated Kramer for the award.
Kramer has been involved in numerous efforts to bring students of diverse backgrounds to St. Thomas. He worked with the North Side Initiative, an organization aimed at improving the educational experience of students attending public schools in north Minneapolis, to recruit students from the area to St. Thomas and CAPS. Kramer also was instrumental in the university’s participation with the Minneapolis Public School's Connecting Parents to Educational Opportunities project, where he encouraged families of color to apply to St. Thomas.
He enjoys continued relationships with organizations such as AchieveMpls, the Association of Black Women in Higher Education and the Inter Race International Institute of Interracial Interaction in his commitment to forge community partnerships between St. Thomas and communities of color.
Kramer has appeared on local radio stations KMOJ and KFAI, speaking on the radio programs “Urban Agenda" and "Conversations With Al McFarlane," to discuss the needs of communities of color and the achievement gap.
Most recently Kramer initiated the CAPS First Million Scholarship Campaign to make more scholarships available in an effort to give more students an opportunity to attend St. Thomas and CAPS.