Stories of Success

Excellence in Service Winners

Northern Michigan University congratulates Excellence in Service Award recipients at the annual Faculty & Staff Recognition Luncheon.  The Excellence in Service awards are presented to individuals who demonstrate a sustained high level of performance and an exceptional commitment to NMU’s mission, vision, strategic outcomes, and core values.


2017 Honorees:



Hans Ahlstrom, Continuity Coordinator/Program Producer, Learning Resources Division

Nominated for Community, Opportunity and Connections

Hans is one of those people who go above and beyond what is expected of him. Hans is WNMU-FM’s primary station liaison working with University faculty and staff and the local music community to bring in musicians for live in-studio performances and interviews and for other special projects and activities. He continuously seeks out opportunities to partner with NMU faculty to provide hands-on practical experience for our NMU students and enhance our listener experience as well.  Hans has taken on the additional responsibilities of leading a major hardware and software upgrade, responding to after-hours calls to fix system issues, as well as stepping in to fill in as an on-air radio host responsible for several hours of programming each week.  In addition to his regular work responsibilities, Hans also supervises at least one NMU student intern every semester, and has done so for the past 16 years. Students receive credit towards graduation for their internship activities, which provide the students with valuable resume material. Hans is a strong proponent of Academic Service Learning providing practical hands-on experience to NMU students that they’ll be able to utilize in their future careers. Hans is an example of the excellent personal touch that NMU staff give our students, helping them to become well-rounded successful adults.



Molly Anderson, Senior Library Assistant, AIS - Library

In 2016 Molly actively sought out ways to assist the Circulation unit to cover critical roles and was made Interim Circulation Manager in mid-November. Molly embraced the challenge and represented the unit in the Library and Archives' strategic planning process and on the Library's Implementation Team. She took on the daily scheduling of 20-25 student workers, and provided needed leadership. By providing leadership at a critical time, Molly improved morale in her unit.  Molly accepted the additional leadership responsibilities with friendliness, professionalism, and intelligence. Molly’s work ethic and integrity support Olson Library’s mission to inspire scholarship and creativity by partnering with our University community. Molly's colleagues supported her and increased their support of one another due to her leadership. The librarians, who rely on the Circulation unit for a great deal of support, found that they could continue to do so because of Molly's efforts. Her desire to assist her colleagues and to continue to serve NMU's students, faculty, and staff required "discipline, courage, pride, sisu (determination), perseverance, and the desire to help others succeed."



Peter Holliday, Director, Student Support Services

Nominated for Community and Inclusion

Peter should be recognized for many reasons, but most importantly for his contributions to the core values of community and inclusion. As Director of Student Support Services, Peter consistently goes above and beyond to create a warm, friendly, caring and helpful university where students feel safe and welcome. There appears to be no limit to what Peter will do to help a student.  This includes everything from hosting students for a holiday meal, giving away bikes to students in need, and even helping students move.  Peter holds students to a very high standard, and they strive to meet his expectations.  Peter consistently challenges students to think independently, develop career skills and become productive citizens.  It comes as no surprise that the students Peter serves come back to see him years, and even decades, later.  Peter Holliday does not just provide services to NMU students; he affects their lives and is a safety net when they are most vulnerable.  In a recent satisfaction survey a student wrote, “Peter Holliday has been hands-down the most helpful and supportive person I have encountered at NMU. I feel like Peter is my friend and a great role model. […] He is the best.” 




Hannah Lewis Assistant Director, Center for Student Enrichment

Nominated for Community, Inclusion and Innovation

Hannah’s warm and caring personality contributes to her ability to build community. Hannah coordinates services for 335 student organizations.  She was instrumental in creating the popular “student organization of the month” award. Hannah understands how much the student organizations contribute to the student experience and looks for ways to assist and recognize their achievements. Hannah actively advises the Special Events Committee, Northern Arts & Entertainment, and Greek Council. Hannah coordinated a major sold out concert (Waka Flaka Flame) this semester which is an enormous undertaking involving sound, lights, production, security, promotion, opening acts, rigging, barricades, etc. Hannah also coordinates the recruitment, matching, and training of 60 mentors each year for the Student Leader Fellowship Program. She has developed excellent relationships with members of the community. Hannah has played a leadership role in helping to establish the Cat Packs program.  Cat Packs is a weekend food program that feeds 70 students at North Star Academy on the weekend. She has applied for and received several grants, and has been involved in creating all the systems in developing and operating the program. Cat Packs not only helps feed hungry children every weekend, it teaches our students about a community need and gives them the opportunity to volunteer and support a worthwhile program at a grassroots level. Hannah’s commitment, dedication, and service to NMU and the community is outstanding.


Dan Lynch, Food Service Worker III, Dining Services

Nominated for Community

As a member of the Dining Services team, and manager of Fieras, Dan demonstrates a sense of community in many ways. Through his participation in various events, Dan’s student employees learn that a career can be enhanced through community involvement.  He has represented NMU in the culinary community at both local and regional competitions. Included in his achievements are being a two-time winner at the Hospitality Management’s Chili Challenge fundraiser and silver medalist at a National Association of College and University Food Service conference.  Dan has displayed his sense of community within the LRC during the five years he has been at Fieras. He has collaborated with Public Radio each year to prepare and deliver food for volunteers during the telethon. This year he participated in the Library’s fall open house as well as represented Fieras at the Children’s Museum Culinary Journey fundraiser. Dan truly cares for his student employees. He goes out of his way to work around their schedules and planned events. He senses when some may be struggling with school or personal issues and offers to do what he can at work to ease there load.  He is a kind, patient and hardworking individual who is a positive example of a productive, community-minded citizen for the many students with whom he works.




Jana Nicholls, Principal Secretary, Earth, Environmental & Geographical Sciences

Nominated for Community, Inclusion, Connections and Innovation

Jana models excellence-in-service in her successful efforts to help the Department of Earth, Environmental & Geographical Sciences be student-centered.  Many undergraduates have benefited from Jana's careful attention to detail and her wish to help them succeed.  Jana helps the department promote Community by cultivating a sense of place and belonging.  She welcomes students, colleagues, and visitors who stop by the department, and she promotes Inclusion by remembering their names and specific details so that they feel part of the group.  As a native of Marquette County, an alumna of NMU, and a Northern employee for more than 20 years, Jana has a deep understanding of the University setting and is able to facilitate Connections among people and information that help move projects forward to successful completion.  As a problem solver, Jana has demonstrated Innovation by thinking of creative ways for us to raise awareness of our Department's programs to prospective students, their parents, and high school counselors and teachers.  She has supported the environmental science summer camp that has led to more than a dozen high school students choosing to attend NMU after spending a week with us in July of 2014 and 2015.  Thanks in large part to Jana's contributions, in 2016 the Department of Earth, Environmental & Geographical Sciences exceeded the goal of increasing the number of incoming environmental students by 20.  Jana’s dedication makes this institution Distinctly Northern.




Brandon Sager, Assistant Director, Engineering and Planning

Nominated for Community, Rigor, Environment and Innovation

Brandon has successfully lead the Building Services Department’s operation transition from zone cleaning to high performance cleaning in thirteen academic and administrative buildings. This transition required a complete change in the department’s operational approach. Brandon identified both strengths and deficiencies of the department’s operation, connected with his colleagues at peer universities, visited other campuses to witness their operations, and talked with consultants – all in an effort to understand and learn about non-traditional methods for building cleaning. Based on the knowledge he gained from those connections, Brandon developed and implemented an alternate delivery method that eliminated individual area assignments for the Building and Grounds Attendants and instead provided a collaborative team approach. He worked closely with his direct line supervisors, their staff, and building occupants to explain the changes in processes and the benefits. Leading a process that improved our sustainability efforts by improving the teaching and working environment while reducing cleaning chemical decreased NMU’s impact on the environment. The transition in the service delivery of Building Services led by Brandon Sager embodied many of the University’s core values and will have a long lasting beneficial impact on the success of NMU.





Don Sibilsky, Trades Specialist II, Plant Operations

Nominated for Community, Opportunity, Rigor and Innovation

Plant Operations operates a city. There are over 50 buildings, with 3.4 million sq. ft. on campus.  There are hundreds of pieces of equipment that need work to stay operational and be efficient as possible. There is always something that needs attention everyday.  One critical piece of equipment is the Berry Events Center ice compressor –  it provides the ice in the arena for skating.  This were Don Sibilsky comes in.  He has made a personal commitment to maintain the equipment to operate efficiently and with little inconvenience to all who uses that Berry Events Center.  He takes pride to provide these services whether or not he is acknowledged for such commitment.  Don understands the effect the equipment has upon the University and the community – without the ice compressor there is no ice, no hockey, no classes that depend on ice, and no recreational skating.  The unit is over 30 years old and to replace it will be very expensive.  Don checks it daily, whether remotely or on site.  He has been called countless times to come in on days off to attend to a problem.  If he is not available to come in he knows what to do and he can help others solve problems over the phone if needed.  This is commitment beyond what is required.  Don shows the same exceptional commitment to other areas on campus as well, but the Berry Events Center is critical. Don’s knowledge, experience and remarkable commitment make him an excellent mentor to new personnel, helping us achieve a high level of service.


View the list of past award recipients

Do you know someone who carries out our core values to provide excellent service to students, co-workers, and our community?


The 2017-2018 Nomination Period is now closed.

Winners will be announced in March 2018!