University Staff Excellence Award winner maintains buildings and the student experience
When Jackie Lee notices a facilities problem in Reuter Hall, she knows who to call, regardless if it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. “Never once has Randy expressed annoyance or frustration about needing to come to campus that early,” says Lee.
And she’s not alone. That reputation is one small reason that Randy Otto was selected as this year’s University Staff Excellence Award winner.
Otto started working at UWL in 1983, five years after he started as a student. He’s currently the Facility Maintenance Specialist in Residence Life. “I grew up in the physical plant,” says Otto. “I felt like I could make a difference and that was far more important than making more money.”
When his colleagues talk about him, they know he’s making a difference and making a difference for the students. “If you ask him who he works for, he says the students are his boss,” says Doug Kuenn, assistant director of Residence Life.
Lee will tell you that Otto always walks the talk. When he’s helping solve a problem, particularly in a students room, Otto will take the time to teach the students how he’s fixing whatever’s damaged.
On top of that, Otto has found ways to save the university thousands of dollars. “That number could actually be in the millions,” notes Troy Richter, assistant director of Residence Life. For example, he spearheaded the initiative to change the shower heads on campus that save 13.2 million gallons of water every year.
Presenting the award
Otto prides himself on always knowing what’s going on, but when he was presented with the award by Chancellor Joe Gow in June, he hadn’t seen it coming — even with his wife in the room. “I was clueless and they were happy to fool me,” remembered Otto.
Upon hearing the news, Otto turned and instantly thanked the housekeepers. “without them and their hard work, I couldn’t perform as quickly as I do,” says Otto. “This is a shared award and I’m glad to be part of this team.”
About the award
The University Staff Excellence Award started in 2015 to recognize outstanding university staff members. A committee selects a winner from nominations put forward by all campus employees. Previous winners are Dave Anderson in 2015 and Laurie Collison in 2016.
Other nominees for the 2017 award include Sheri Craig, Susanne Koehler, Ronald Klinski, Karen Daniel, Mike Olson, Cullen Oldenburg, Richard Moilien and Mary Grattan.