Steven Bermingham and Helen Zhou Awarded 2024 CSEA

The University Library is pleased to announce that two of its employees have been recognized at the campus level. Steven Bermingham, Facility Operations Specialist, and Helen Zhou, Senior Web Applications Developer, have both been awarded the Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award (CSEA). The CSEA is designed to “recognize the importance of the outstanding work of all university staff members who perform a wide range of critical functions for our university.” This prestigious award highlights the outstanding performance of Zhou and Bermingham.

CSEA nominees must meet the criteria of at least three qualities valued by the university. Valued attributes include:

  • Demonstrating excellence in overall work performance
  • Promoting positive morale
  • Self-improvement, development, and recognition of others
  • Exhibiting initiative and creativity
  • Enhancing the image of the department and/or university

The selection committee evaluates each nominee based on these criteria, and Chancellor Robert Jones approves the recommended finalists. Winners of the CSEA award are honored at a reception hosted by the Chancellor, where they receive $1,500, a commemorative award, and a feature in a podcast or video. 

Steve Bermingham

Tim Newman, Assistant Dean of Facilities, commented, “Steve is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure the continued operations of the University Library, comprising 31 departmental libraries and units in 800,000 square feet across 16 facilities around campus. He is instrumental in monitoring humidity and temperature conditions in spaces that house some of the Library’s most delicate, unique, and historic collections, including the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, Archives Research Center, and Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.”

Janelle Sander, Patron Services Manager, remarked, “Steve is one of the most observant and motivated people I have met. He constantly looks for ways to improve the experience of staff and students at the University Library by responding to smaller situations before they are even reported. He is the go-to person for all types of shelving questions in the Main Stacks…he has demonstrated his skills in this area time and time again, often giving library staff tips and tricks for operating the shelving.”

Associate University Librarian for Fulfillment Mary Laskowski noted, “Steve works across all our library units and has a positive impact on the ability of individual library units to keep the doors open, the lights on, and ensure that library facilities issues are handled efficiently and effectively. He contributes not only to the necessary upkeep of our facilities but also in terms of promoting a positive work environment.”

University Archivist and Head of Archival Programs Joanne Kaczmarek wrote, “Without a doubt, Steve embodies the qualities this award is built around and demonstrates them every day through his work for the Library and the university. I have known Steve nearly as long as I have worked at the Library and throughout that time, I have never seen him falter in his steady-handed approach to problem-solving or in his kind and helpful demeanor.”

Helen Zhou

Tracy Tolliver, Director of IT, shared, “Helen was instrumental in enabling the Library to pioneer Google Analytics 4 technology and then provided over 25 presentations and sessions to other colleges and units to help ensure a smooth campus transition to this important technology. She is a natural teacher and a voracious student, and in just a few short years has become a leading expert in digital accessibility and currently serves on two World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) community groups to continue the University of Illinois’ global reputation in the area of accessibility.”

Associate Dean for Digital Strategies Chris Prom noted, “Helen is generous in time and spirit, modeling effective work habits to peers, while shaping broader strategic directions. She stands out for her overall compassion, empathy, and service…and inspires others to action through her example, top-notch work, and supportive ethic.”

John Laskowski, User Experience & Web Strategy Coordinator, remarked “I can think of no one who better exemplifies the Library’s mission statement of “striving to ensure unfettered access to information” than Helen. Helen’s dedication and knowledge have strengthened the Library’s position as an “accessibility-first” web content provider and reinforced the university’s long-standing reputation as a leader in accessibility in higher education.”

Lori Lane, Specialist in Universal Design for Learning at CITL and Chair of the Web Con Accessibility Subcommittee, wrote, “Helen is an initiator and creative…her reputation shines, and she is well-respected for the work she does for the university.”

The full list of 2024 CDSA Award Winners can be found on the Illinois Human Resources website. Congratulations to Helen and Steve on this achievement!

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