2022 Staff Awards Winners Announced
This year, the University of Denver is honoring three staff members and one department for their outstanding work and commitment to DU. The winners, who are nominated by colleagues across campus, embody the dedication and forward-looking spirit that drive the University to be its very best.
Outstanding Service Award: Roo Hiremath
The Outstanding Service Award is the highest award presented each year and recognizes a person who exemplifies the University of Denver’s vision.
Roo Hiremath is assistant director of learning and leadership in Housing and Residential Education (HRE). She came to DU in 2019 as the resident director and then added the role of housing protocol coordinator during the University’s response to the COVID pandemic.
“Roo is the definition of a spectacular representative for this university,” Jackalynn Mayfield, resident director in HRE, writes in a nominating letter. “She was present when the pandemic started and took leadership in helping our department and university handle pandemic response and protocol.”
During the pandemic, Hiremath worked with campus partners when students tested positive to ensure they had a place to stay, received their daily meals and had all their essentials. She also made sure that professors were notified of the situation. As the University moves past the pandemic, Hiremath is moving forward by reexamining how HRE can support students and staff.
“Roo is actively working to implement 4D into housing curriculum,” writes Mar Kummerman, a student outreach and support case manager in Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence. “Roo sits on many different committees and collaborates and works with many different departments on campus, always shining a good light on HRE and bringing back information to share with others.”
Staff Innovator Award: Daniel Bruning
The Staff Innovator Award is given to a DU staff member who has demonstrated creativity and innovation in work that advances the University’s strategic plan.
Daniel Bruning is a senior web developer in Information Technology. He has been with DU for 19 years and earned his master’s degree from the University in digital media studies. He was charged this past year with the development and launch of MyDU, the campus-wide application that replaced PioneerWeb for students, faculty and staff.
“To say that his work on this project was exceptional is an understatement,” writes Mary Sue Brown, business analyst in Information Technology. “Daniel is a true self-starter, and by the time we began meeting with the vendor, he had completed all of the available training and impressed the campus community as well as the vendor representatives with his thorough understanding of the daunting task at hand.”
Bruning had to work to integrate existing campus applications with MyDU and ensure all security concerns were addressed. He provided personalized assistance to all stakeholders who had questions or needed added assistance with the transition.
“The product the vendor sells to future clients is undoubtedly improved thanks to the innovative solutions Daniel has imagined and implemented at DU,” Brown writes.
Crimson and Gold Award: Tonnett Luedtke
The Crimson and Gold Award recognizes a DU employee who demonstrates outstanding commitment to and support of the University.
Tonnett Luedtke completed her master’s degree at the University of Denver and has worked at DU for 18 years. She is currently executive director of academic advising. Luedtke regularly creates opportunities for academic advisors across campus to connect with each other and advance their skills.
“Tonnett clearly embodies DU’s values of excellence, engagement and inclusiveness,” Kristy Firebaugh, assistant vice provost of student success, writes in her nominating letter. “She is intentional about celebrating excellent advising and student support at the quarterly Friends of Advising meetings.”
Luedtke is a first-generation college graduate and says she knows firsthand the power of good advising in student retention and persistence. Last academic year, she co-created and ran a training session on combating advisor burnout and invited all faculty and staff advisors to attend. According to Firebaugh, Luedtke often participates in working groups and speaks at various meetings across campus that help foster a strong sense of community and connection.
“Tonnett goes above and beyond by modeling for her office, and all of her collaborators, how to take advantage of DU’s position in the community to give back,” writes Kateri McRae, a professor in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “She collaborates successfully with faculty, administrators, staff and students at DU. She is an absolute university treasure and DU is lucky to have her here.”
Quality Department Award: Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management
The Quality Department Award honors the staff of a DU department for its outstanding service to the DU community.
This year’s award goes to the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management in the Daniels College of Business. The school prepares students for management positions in the hospitality industry. More than 3,400 students have completed the program and enrollment has doubled during the past 10 years.
“Working there and taking classes there made it truly feel like my home when I walked in every day,” wrote one student in the nomination letter. “Not only does our department offer in-house work experience, but Knoebel events also serves the greater DU community. Internal and external groups seek us out to host their events.”
Students in the Knoebel School manage two Beans coffee shop outlets on campus for the DU community. Hospitality students help operate Knoebel Events, which provides an elegant setting for any occasion in the school’s Tuscan-style ballroom. And since 2012, the school has partnered with the Ethiopian Community Development Council’s African Community Center to run the Ready for American Hospitality (RAH) program. RAH prepares refugees for the hospitality industry and helps participants find jobs.