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April 2022 Employee of the Month – Katri Swanson

It is our pleasure to announce Katri Swanson as our Employee of the Month for April 2022. According to one nomination, “Katri is the behind the scenes worker bee that keeps the hive running.” During the month of April, Katri has made the time to engage in department activities while simultaneously coordinating the on-time submission of grades and managing the chaos of the end of semester for nearly 1,000 students in general chemistry labs. Nominators provided the following commentary on behalf of Katri’s attitude and commitment, interpersonal skills, work performance, and personal traits.

Katri is a team player and engages at every level of the department and university. She is always at department meetings and contributes to the discussion, which was notable during our discussions of tactics in breakout sessions in April. She attends university events and represents the Chemistry department well across the college and across campus. She has handled illness and COVID emergencies quickly and kindly, accommodating where she can and setting boundaries where necessary.  Given the ~40 sections of general chemistry labs that Kate coordinates, the number of accommodations has been appreciable. She has handled these challenges with grace and humility.

Katri consistently attends events outside of work to make the culture friendlier for employees and staff. For instance, she coordinated an event for making enameled jewelry and volunteered to decorate cookies for the Wizarding Hat ceremony. She helped plan and coordinate the baby shower on behalf of a coworker. She attended bowling and supervisor roundtable events that contributed to strengthening ties within the department community. She works closely with the lab instructors and fellow coordinators to improve all that we do as a community and on behalf of students.

For the month of April, Katri has written, practiced, and piloted a new 212 Analytical Chemistry lab. She created a new lab that deals with things easier for students to relate to – specifically, milk! Katri consistently makes an effort to change the curriculum in ways that help students bridge chemistry with their everyday life, something that can be a big challenge in 112L and 212. Katri’s work is incredibly difficult, but she makes it look effortless. It is easy to overlook the magnitude of Katri’s position, which is the most massive coordination role in the department (~43 sections of lab and ~1000 students per semester). She has worked hard to set up the system to make 111L, 112L and 212 run so smoothly that we can depend on the system working without ever having to think about it. She has worked incredibly hard to get the labs where they are, enabling the smooth transition from semester to semester.