Brenda Piatz, program assistant for Academic Programs and Advising, has been awarded the 2024 Staff Outstanding Service Award. 

Macalester President Suzanne Rivera announced the award and read from this citation:

In celebration of the immeasurable mark you’ve made on the Macalester community, we are proud to recognize you with the 2024 Staff Outstanding Service Award.

At a recent all-faculty meeting, when Dean Tom Halverson announced your upcoming retirement, “a collective gasp filled the room,” writes one professor. “That gasp revealed widely shared feelings on campus: Brenda is simply irreplaceable.” Over twenty-four years in Academic Programs and Advising, you’ve juggled an increasingly vast range of responsibilities, always with the clarity that the student experience is your north star. Your efforts span the student journey, from supporting first-year courses to coordinating the senior honors thesis program.

You are instrumental in operationalizing two Macalester hallmarks: faculty research and collaborative research with students. You ensure projects run smoothly, including through what many faculty call exceptional and tireless support for Faculty Travel and Research Fund requests. In recent years, you’ve taken on the Summer Research Showcase program, tracking the research funds, programs, student submissions, and logistics. After supporting the Summer Research Showcase website’s creation, you took the initiative to develop the “Honors, Prizes, and Awards” website to highlight our graduating seniors’ accomplishments. You manage all academic prizes and awards; support Orientation and Commencement; work with language departments on course placement; handle all logistics for departments undergoing external reviews; and manage all pre-tenure, tenure, promotion, and non-tenure-track personnel reviews.

And yet, that brief summary of your job duties doesn’t come close to encompassing your service to the college. You are a “Macalester go-to” — a source of deep institutional knowledge and a vital onboarding resource. For nearly 20 years, you’ve served as the secretary of Macalester’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and have transformed that role. You coordinate Macalester’s Adopt a Family partnership with the YWCA St. Paul’s transitional housing program — communicating families’ needs and collecting and delivering holiday gifts. You also launched and lead the annual Macalester craft fair that “creates tangible joy” and has become so successful that people want to see the tradition happen more than once a year.

Across many letters of support, your colleagues marvel at your ability to balance this volume of projects while still somehow managing to be available for every question (whether or not they relate directly to your work). You are a problem-solver, working across divisional and department boundaries to find workable solutions. You are a clear communicator, generous, and in the words of one professor, “so very, very, very organized.” In the midst of it all, faculty, staff, and students appreciate your careful curation of the office chocolate dish (with both peanut and plain M&Ms).

The impact you’ve made on this community is vivid and profound. Your nominators describe you as “a caring steward of the college who quilts together all of her work behind the scenes,” and “the heart and soul of academic programs at Mac.” As one summarizes: “What Brenda has done at Mac will be dearly missed by all of us.”

Congratulations, Brenda. As you prepare to begin your next chapter, we are truly grateful for your outstanding service.

April 16 2024

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