Outstanding Supervisor Award

Outstanding Supervisor Award, Nominations due July 31. worklife.msu.edu/supervisor-award

Nominations are accepted from through July 31 each year. Please complete this form to begin your nomination.

About the Award

The Outstanding Supervisor Award honors Michigan State University supervisors who have consistently demonstrated worklife sensitivity and support of the professional/personal needs of the employees in their unit. The award is significant for the following reasons:

The managerial style of a supervisor has a direct impact on the quality of the employees’ work and their loyalty to MSU. Any supervisor, at any employment level, from all staff and academic units may be nominated.

There is a strong “business case” for offering support and flexibility to enhance employees’ worklife balance. When sincere consideration is given to an individual’s personal responsibilities outside the job, absenteeism may be reduced and morale and productivity are improved.

By recognizing outstanding supervisors, we are setting an example of “what makes a good supervisor.” This will serve as a model for others to illustrate what it means to be sensitive to worklife and family circumstances. These outstanding supervisor role models make a positive impact on managerial practices across campus!

How to Nominate Your Supervisor

Members of the MSU community are invited to nominate a supervisor/administrator who consistently supports the worklife (professional/personal) needs of their employees/staff through positive leadership and managerial practices. If the following characteristics fit YOUR supervisor, please complete the nomination package. All staff, faculty and students may nominate their supervisors who have been in the position for more than two years. The nomination package must include the nomination form, nomination letter, plus two to four letters of support.

Nominations should include specific examples of how and why the supervisor is outstanding. Past winners' nomination letters have been genuine with various authentic descriptions of how the supervisor is exceptional. Make sure you clearly explain how your supervisor's actions specifically impact employees in your work group.

What Makes an Outstanding Supervisor?

Listen to the WorkLife Podcast! Find episodes where we talked with past winners of the Outstanding Supervisor Award. Hear the answer to this question straight from the experts!

An outstanding supervisor...

  • Establishes, cultivates, and sustains an inclusive, diverse, equitable workplace
  • Understand worklife fit
  • Allow flexible schedules
  • Treat everyone with dignity, respect, and integrity
  • Promote teamwork, while supporting individuals’ well-being
  • Humanize the work environment and treat employees as people first
  • Have a positive leadership style which empowers others
  • Familiar with MSU worklife policies and procedures
  • Sensitive to individual needs
  • Familiar with the MSU WorkLife Office’s services and other campus support programs
  • Responds well to stressful circumstances and extreme worklife situations (e.g. COVID-19)

Outstanding Supervisors establish, cultivate, and sustain a workplace free from discrimination and harassment based on age, color, gender, gender identity, disability status, height, marital status, national origin, political persuasion, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, and weight under the University's Anti-Discrimination Policy (ADP)

Outstanding Supervisors promote a workplace environment that is free from relationship violence and sexual misconduct in accordance with the Policy on Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM)

Outstanding Supervisors represent the values and norms that contribute to a supportive workplace culture at MSU. These individuals go above and beyond their typical supervisory role to enhance the Spartan workplace.

About the Committee



  • Chair: Member of the WorkLife Office; perpetual
  • Secretary: Any member; annual nomination
  • Membership
  • Member from CTU, APA, APSA
  • Member from at least one of the following
    • Police Officers Association of Michigan (Non-Supervisory) (POAM)
    • Spartan Skilled Trades Union (SSTU)
    • Local 1585
    • 324
    • Local 274
  • Member from at least one of the following
    • Academic Specialist
    • Faculty (any rank, includes Union of Nontenure-Track Faculty)
    • Post-Doc
    • Graduate Employees Union (GEU)
  • Emeritus members (past winners) are welcome and encouraged on the committee but not required
  • MSU Health Team and Nurses are welcome and encouraged on the committee but not required

Membership can range from a minimum of 5 individuals to a maximum of 10 individuals. Chair and/or Secretary can fulfill a representative membership category. These categories are intended to solicit a diverse group of MSU staff and faculty members on the committee.


Each committee member agrees to fulfill a 1-year commitment. Members can withdraw from the committee at any time and have the option re-commit to service each year during the annual debrief meeting that occurs directly after the awards are distributed. Should membership fall under 5 members, the Chair and committee will recruit members.


  • Attend at least 3 of 4 scheduled meetings annually
    • Meetings occur on or around Aug (selection), Oct (awards), Nov (debrief), Apr (check-in/launch)
    • Attending the selection meeting, or providing a complete review of the application packages with comprehensive feedback, is a requirement of membership
  • Attend at least 1 of the award ceremonies in Oct and provide logistical support
    • Examples of logistical support: “emcee” overview of the history of the award, bring banners, certificates, cake, read letters of support, audio/visual including taking photos and playing the MSU fight song
  • Promote the award to their unit and others at the university when possible
  • Serve as a representative of the award, e.g. name listed on WorkLife website and other material

Current Committee Members

Jaimie Hutchinson
Joined in 2018, WorkLife Office (APA)

Sue Brandt
Sue gives an overview of the history of this award
Joined in 2001, Residential and Hospitality Services (APA)

Melissa Congleton
Melissa has co-hosted the podcast
Joined in 2019, MSU Police (POAM)

Karla Bauer
Joined in 2022, Center For Bioethics And Social Justice (APSA)

Chris Slater
Joined in 2020, IPF (1585)

Diann Wilson
Joined in 2008, Dining Services (APSA)

Marcell King
Marcell handles audio/visual including taking photos and playing the MSU fight song
Joined in 2017, Broad College of Business (Academic Specialist [non-union, non-tenure])

Janae Lawler
Joined in 2021, College of Natural Science (Academic Specialist [non-union, continuing])

Deb Bittner
Joined in 2021, Human Resources (CTU)

Mike Gardner
Mike is a past award winner and frequent podcast co-host
Joined in 2008, Dining Services (Retired [Past Winner])

Past Committee Members

We are so thankful for the selfless service given to the Spartan community by our former committee members!

Laraine Walton
Served 2006 - 2020
Student Parent Resource Center (CTU)

Angela Matlock
Joined in 2018, Office of the Controller (APSA)

Award Ceremonies

Nominators will be notified by late September if their supervisor has been selected. Celebrations will occur around National Bosses Day, October 16. Remember, the process is more fun for everyone if you KEEP IT A SECRET!

Questions? Contact the MSU WorkLife Office via phone at (517) 353-1635 or via email at worklife@msu.edu

Quotes from Past Recipients:

We asked past recipients why they thought their departments nominated them and why they were selected for the award. Here's what they had to say...

She empowers others by consistent, authentic, inclusive, and empathetic leadership practices, each of which… I profoundly encourage my MSU colleagues to acknowledge and integrate into their personal and professional lives

When MSU’s workforce went remote… she improvised with new ways of working together that made us feel connected and supported from home.

She models work-life balance and encourages and supports all of us in taking care of ourselves.

Her empathy for my single-parent status enabled and supported my flexible responsibilities in my faculty role and additional professional development opportunities. She ensured my schedule remained consistent so I was able to take my child to school and pick her up every day after extra-curricular activities, flexibility many of my single-parent friends struggled with.

…Her authentic, empathy-based leadership provided the guidance and emotional sustenance I needed to properly grieve [the loss of a close family member] while I maintained my professional self with students and colleagues.

His approach to the profession begins and ends with a truly unconditional and unbounded commitment to the well-being and best interest of everyone in his life.

Past Recipients

2021 Recipients

Chris Hogan, Department Chairperson, Eli Broad College of Business

“Chris’ work ethic inspires all of us to do our very best. She sets a positive example for all levels of faculty and staff in the department. She is always present and available to us even at the busiest of times.” -Lynne Zelenski, Director of Academic Services, Department of Accounting and Information Systems

Joyce Meier, Associate Director, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures

“In her administrative and supervisory role, Joyce has been an exemplary citizen not only of the department, but also of the larger university community. She has created innovative learning opportunities for new and returning teachers to address various pedagogical needs and problems, has created ways to make the work we do in FYW ‘travel’ outward into other public beyond the department and university, and has initiated projects to inquire into what has emerged as the needs of our various constituents of learners (in particular, multilingual and international students).” -Julie Lindquist, Professor of Rhetoric and Writing, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures

Michael Kroth, Associate Dean, College of Music

“Michael’s responsibilities in the college of music are vast. He is not only Professor of Bassoon with a full teaching studio, but his duties as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Operations have him involved in a myriad of different administrative tasks necessary in keeping the college of music running smoothly. With all of his diverse responsibilities, Michael is able to be equitable in all things and to everyone he serves and supervises. He is sensitive to individual needs specific to a person and for specific situations.” -Mary Lapprand, Head Piano Technician, College of Music

Gabe Ording, Director/Associate Professor, Center for Integrative Studies

“Gabe is a leader and supervisor who knows his task is to promote not his success but the success of his employees. He actively mentors’ employees to develop their own leadership skills, empowering them to be the best they can be. I have seen him many times believe in an employee’s potential even more than the employee believes in their potential.” -Jane Rice, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Jeannie Patrick, Director, Office of Research Administration

“Dr. Patrick organizes the ORA office to be highly collaborative, so that the staff are encouraged to offer assistance to each other when needed. A collaborative team spirit is a pervasive characteristic of the office. Jeannie models what it means to be a supportive and interested colleague; if a staff member has a challenge in their personal lives, I have observed that they feel welcome to share the situation with Jeannie and she offers her support in practical ways.” -Ann Austin, University Distinguished Professor and Interim Dean, College of Education


Outstanding Supervisor Podcast

MSU WorkLife Podcast: This special episode is part of our series of talks with: Outstanding Supervisors!

Listen to special episodes of our Outstanding Supervisor podcast series. Click on any name below to listen to a podcast episode (audio interview) and learn more about how each individual is outstanding!

Very special thanks to Outstanding Supervisor Award Winner and Committee Member Mike Gardner for serving as guest host on many episodes!