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Jenny Meslow holding her award, with President Bruininks at Eastcliff

Civil service staff member Jenny Meslow received a President's Outstanding Service Award in 2006. She and the other recipients were honored by President Bruininks at Eastcliff.

Honoring all kinds of great service

Nominate a colleague for the President's Outstanding Service Award

By Heather Powell and Gayla Marty

Brief, Feb. 21, 2007

If you work at the U--or even if you don't--you may recognize the Relay for Life and the Turtle Derby as fun fund-raisers for great causes. And there's a civil service employee behind those names: Jenny Meslow chaired the derby for 10 years, and in 2004 she brought the relay to raise funds for cancer-related research to Minnesota.

Meslow was one of two civil service staff members who won the President's Outstanding Service Award in 2006. She's a great example of why it's important to take the time to nominate a colleague for the award.

"I've been at the U for 25 years, and I love the U," says Meslow. "I feel like I put my heart and soul into my job. I didn't do those 25 years to get a pat on the back, but"--she laughs--"it's really nice to get that pat on the back!"

She says the award recognizes how hard she works and how much she cares, and it continues to "cement that dedication."

Read more about the Turtle Derby and the Relay for Life, two of Meslow's projects at the AHC.

History of medicine faculty member Jennifer Gunn says she had the idea of nominating Meslow for an award the same year that a group of health sciences students did. The timing was good, Gunn says, because Meslow was changing hats at the Academic Health Center. Meslow was joining the AHC communications office after many years directing the student organization CHIP--the Center for Health Interprofessional Programs--and making a big impact on students in every health sciences major.

"Everybody would nominate Jenny for that award every single year because of the things she does to build community and make connections," says Gunn. "And she is highly effective. We all wanted to honor her."

Not every award winner has worked on such public projects as Meslow. The other civil service award winner in 2006 was Debbie Nelson in the Law School, special assistant to the associate dean and director of curriculum development.

Nelson is the one who plans retirement parties, potlucks, and care packages to the Law School's extended family in Iraq.

Debbie Nelson
The Law School's Debbie Nelson celebrated her 2006 award at Eastcliff. See more photos.

"And if there's a crisis, she's the first one picking up a shovel to dig out," says assistant dean of students Erin Keyes. "She gives a lot of herself, and she knows how to communicate effectively. She's a professional in many, many areas."

Professor Stephen Befort agrees. While serving as associate dean for academic curriculum for four years, he worked closely with Nelson.

"She has this great institutional wisdom," says Befort. "I'd go to Debbie and ask, 'How did we do this before?' She would answer always with the best interests of the school in mind.

"Another thing about Debbie is that, as she's moved up the ladder, she's always been willing to help those in her former positions," Befort adds. "She's the ultimate team player."

Nelson's strong role in fostering a sense of community in and beyond the Law School and her example of inclusion and respect are attributes her nominators wanted to honor because they exemplify outstanding service at the U--even though Nelson is not the kind of person who wants public recognition or accolades.

So nominate a colleague! It's not too late. Download the form today and aim for March 9 to submit your nomination.

Heather Powell works at the U Card Office in Coffman Union and is a member of the Civil Service Committee.