Introduced in 1977, this award honors professional staff members whose extraordinary service contributions have significantly enriched the university. Award recipients have served energetically, innovatively and knowledgeably in their fields.
Associate director of University Facilities’ Office of Campus Planning, Cheryl Bailey has played a significant role in the UB 2020 physical master plan. Ms. Bailey serves as the chief liaison between Facilities leadership and the Facilities Planning and Management Officers. She works closely with auxiliary groups including the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to help accommodate the needs of the entire university community. As the lead planner for UB’s annual campus classroom assessment and rehabilitation process, Ms. Bailey has reimagined UB’s learning landscape, helping to provide faculty and students with cutting-edge classroom experiences.
Department of Music
Business administrator and assistant to the chair in the Department of Music, Dusti Dean is known for her administrative excellence, support for faculty and students, and dedicated service to UB. Her multi-faceted skills have guided the department in areas of budgeting, personnel appointments, office operations, search committees, emergency preparedness and interdepartmental coordination. Maintaining the necessary records for numerous faculty, instructors, artists and guests—along with departmental events, concerts and festivals—Ms. Dean has far-reaching responsibilities. Recognized for her commitment to students, she ensures that every student contacting the department can access the resources available to them at UB.
As director of Technology Transfer, Jeff Dunbar, MBA, leads a professional team to commercialize technology emerging from the research activity conducted at UB to benefit the public good, and to facilitate research and development and clinical trial activity with industry. Consistently seeking ways to improve processes, Mr. Dunbar utilizes each team member’s specialized expertise for every project. Numerous startups—including Athenex, now a global pharmaceutical company—have succeeded thanks in part to the support of Mr. Dunbar and his office. He also played an instrumental role in developing UB’s Innovation Hub, which helps launch and grow startups.
Creative director in the Division of University Communications, Rebecca Farnham leads a team of graphic designers and photographers responsible for developing and overseeing UB’s visual identity on the web, in social media, in print and digital communications, and in environmental applications, including many high-profile university initiatives. Ms. Farnham, who enjoys a well-earned reputation as the consummate communications professional, expertly uses visual communications to tell the university's story. She has developed a comprehensive and strategic communications approach and provides thoughtful oversight and guidance to help shape the wide variety of visual creative activity that occurs daily across the university.
As director of student engagement, Phyllis Floro provides students with opportunities to develop an understanding of themselves, others and their community. Known for her ability to build and maintain relationships with students, faculty, staff and community constituents, Ms. Floro successfully oversaw the creation of the Office of Student Engagement. She is responsible for overall management, program development and budget for various areas of student involvement that support student learning and leadership development. She has provided extensive support to students in crisis and demonstrated impressive leadership in managing student activism in a manner that supports all students.
As the chief sustainability officer at UB, Ryan McPherson has positioned the university as a sustainability leader in the community, state, nation, world and across higher education. Through the implementation of the university’s climate action plan, Mr. McPherson has worked to reduce UB’s carbon footprint by 35 percent, putting the university on the path to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. By engaging with community partners, advancing the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals across campus and New York, and helping create the next generation of change agents, Mr. McPherson’s work is helping build the future we collectively seek.
Sharon Mitchell, PhD, has worked as a counseling center administrator, staff psychologist and faculty in higher education for more than 25 years. As director of Counseling Services and senior director of Student Wellness, Dr. Mitchell has positively impacted UB’s ability to provide wellness resources to the university community. She has a wide scope of responsibilities requiring sophisticated administrative leadership and innovative resource strategies to effectively serve the greatest number of students, all while placing a priority on diversity and inclusion. Dr. Mitchell’s scholarship and national leadership has focused on college student mental health.
Department of Biochemistry
Assistant to the chair of biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Elizabeth O’Brocta is an innovative leader and a mentor within the academic support staff community. She is praised by both the former and current department chairs for her critical role in faculty searches—in particular for her ability to shepherd recruitment efforts to highly successful outcomes. Dedicated to the academic success of her department and its students, Ms. O’Brocta works closely with the directors of undergraduate and graduate education on issues pertaining to program and curricular development, recruitment and student advisement.