Penny Ames, admissions and records coordinator, is among the eight civil service employees from across the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who have been named recipients of the 2022 Chancellor's Distinguished Staff Award. Each recipient of the Chancellor's Distinguished Staff Award receives $1,000 and a plaque. Recipients' names also are engraved on a plaque displayed in the Illinois Human Resources Office.
Ames, who has worked for the iSchool since 2006, serves three primary functions at the School—records manager, admissions support, and administrative support. According to nominator Linda C. Smith, professor emerita and interim executive associate dean, Ames is involved in the "entire life cycle of iSchool students from prospective to degree completion."
Graduate enrollment in the iSchool has grown exponentially in the past five years, and Ames has implemented new systems to support admissions and records operations, including Slate and Gradrecs. She has responsibility for supervising two staff members in admissions and one in records. Her team works with students in five different graduate degree programs, maintaining endless "grace under pressure" while being responsive to questions from on-campus and online students and navigating challenges resulting from the pandemic.
"Often serving as a back-up advisor, fielding drop-in questions, phone calls and emails, Penny juggles between many hats, often in a matter of minutes," said Smith. "Her unwavering optimism and overall good naturedness makes her approachable by students, staff, and faculty. She never turns away a student. If she does not know the answer, she finds out."
Outside of the iSchool, Ames is active in the Illinois Administrative Professionals (IAP) on the Urbana campus, where she currently serves as chair of the Scholarship Committee, and the Administrative Advisory Group (AAG) in the Graduate College.
"I am so honored and humbled to be one of the Chancellor's Distinguished Staff Award recipients this year," said Ames. "I have enjoyed my nearly 16 years with the iSchool and being one of many who have been a part of the life cycle of our amazing students. It has also been wonderful collaborating with so many colleagues within the School and beyond to assure the best experiences for our students."