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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering
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  5. Lynn Neis


The 2012 College of Engineering
Classified Staff Award


Lynn Neis.

Lynn Neis
Materials Science and Engineering

She started her career 36 years ago as a typist. Today, she is a university services program associate. But titles do little to explain all that is Lynn Neis.

In her many years of service to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Neis has expanded her skills and contributions, not only as a result of an explosion in office technology, but in response to the evolving needs of the department’s faculty, staff and students. Neis continuously learned new organizational skills, applied them to new problems, and took on new responsibilities.

Just two permanent staff and a half-time limited-term employee provide all of the department’s support services. Their responsibilities include personnel support, grant support, student support, and support for faculty activities. Support staff must be creative, flexible self-starters who can work on many different types of projects, switch between them effectively, prioritize responsibilities and requests, and problem solve on their own on a daily basis.

Neis not only meets these challenges, she sets an exemplary standard.

She constantly asks, “How can we do this better?” For example, Neis recognized that support for the college director of user facilities, an activity that is not specified in her job description, was in the best interest of the department and the college as a whole. She offered her support.

Neis also has provided excellent support for faculty searches. She set up a convenient and familiar way to present candidate materials to faculty on line, helping enormously in the review of applications. Throughout the search and screen process, she tracked applicants, kept candidates informed as to their status and made sure that each candidate was informed of a decision. She also organized candidate visits, scheduled meetings, arranged lodging and meals and served as first point of contact for travel details.

Neis always made sure the candidate felt welcome. She then translated these skills to graduate student-recruiting efforts. Her contributions to this important function have been a major key to its success.

Her disposition is friendly and her concern is genuine. It is very clear she recognizes the value of, works hard at, and excels in maintaining good relationships with coworkers, as well as with members of the broader university community.

Her commitment is most evident in her service to undergraduate students. Her attention to an individual student’s progress many times helped momentarily struggling — but solid — students graduate with an understanding of the fundamentals of the field and get off to a good start in their careers.

Her often-immediate attention to off-hour requests and concerns from students, staff and faculty alike is another example of her above-and-beyond dedication and performance. Neis is extremely devoted to the university, believes deeply in its missions, and is proud to be a part of it.