Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science
A color photo showing 3 women and 1 man. Some with awards


Cornell Bowers CIS honors exceptional staff with inaugural awards

February 8, 2024

By Patricia Waldron

Four exemplary staff members in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science received inaugural staff awards during the college's annual all-staff meeting on Feb. 6.

The four new awards will be given annually to Cornell Bowers CIS employees for "their accomplishments, performance excellence, and significant contributions to the college’s mission and community." Each winner will receive a plaque and $2,500.

"Our dean and the Bowers CIS leadership has long envisioned an awards program that would recognize and celebrate the contributions of our outstanding staff members," said Carrie Irwin, human resources director of Cornell Bowers CIS. "We are all so thrilled to finally turn that vision into reality with these inaugural awards." 

Irwin chaired the selection committee that included: Kellie Page, associate dean of administration and finance; Elizabeth Estabrook, director of administration, computer science; Eileen Grabosky, director of administration, information science; and Donna Bunce, director of administration, statistics and data science.

The 2024 winners are as follows:


Rising Star Award – Megan Adams, assistant to the chair, statistics and data science

The Rising Star Award recognizes a newer staff member who has been a part of Cornell Bowers CIS community for one to three years. 

From the nomination letter:

Megan’s performance, collegiality, and unwavering commitment to SDS have positively and significantly impacted our department. Beyond her technical skills, Megan’s contributions to the department and college are characterized by her positive attitude and exceptional collegiality. She is always ready to lend a helping hand and collaborates seamlessly with colleagues across different departments. She consistently goes above and beyond to ensure that their needs are met, often anticipating requirements, and proactively offering solutions. Megan approaches her work with an excitement that is rare and inspiring.


Exceptional Performance Award – Rebecca Stewart, associate director of M.S./Ph.D. program, computer science

A color photo of a woman smiling for a photo
Becky Stewart

The Exceptional Performance Award acknowledges and provides recognition for a staff member who consistently demonstrates superior professional achievement and the pursuit of excellence within and beyond their position.

From the nomination letter:

It seems this award was created for the nominee. She's a virtual encyclopedia of anything related to the field. She's a go-to person for and greatly valued by all Ph.D. and M.S. students (as well as for local undergraduate and M.Eng. students applying to the M.S. and Ph.D. programs), as well as the faculty. 

For three decades, she has been the administrative head of the CS Ph.D. program.  During this period, she has breezed through extreme overloads, helped students deal with all sorts of crises, weathered the Covid pandemic, and supported at least a dozen DGSs [directors of graduate students].


Staff Innovation Award – Robert Nicholl, student employment specialist and student services assistant

The Staff Innovation Award recognizes a staff member who embodies the spirit of innovation, a core component of the Cornell Bowers CIS mission. The award is given to a staff member who applies creativity to develop new or improve existing processes, methods, systems, or services, and encourages others to do the same.

From the nomination letter:

Robert goes above and beyond his job description. He consistently volunteers for college- and university-level events. He regularly helps his colleagues in student services, from problem solving to event planning. Additionally, customer service is extremely important to Robert. He sees himself as the first point of contact for undergraduates' experience of working at Cornell, and he has voiced that he wants to ensure that they have a positive experience.

The nominee's innovative thinking has improved efficiencies within the student hiring system, which benefits multiple departments.


Award for Excellence in Inclusion and Belonging – Sue Shipman, associate director of human resources

The Award for Excellence in Inclusion and Belonging recognizes an individual within Cornell Bowers CIS who has demonstrated an exceptional understanding of inclusion and belonging, a key priority for the college.

From the nomination letter:

While her efforts in support of and commitment to advancing an environment free from bias and discrimination most often take place behind the scenes and without fanfare, her work is some of the most critical, fundamental, and essential to ensuring that faculty, staff, and student employees in Bowers CIS have a workplace and an environment where all are treated equitably and with dignity and respect. 

She has a unique ability to make employees reporting concerns feel safe, supported, and heard and ensures that they understand the process and their rights. 

The nominee's efforts and dedication help to ensure that all of us working in Bowers CIS have a work environment where we feel included and that we belong.


The following Cornell Bowers CIS staff members also received nominations for one or more awards: Julia Aquadro, Carl Cornell, Lizette DeJesus, Rebecca Dillon, Janeen Orr, Melissa Osgood, Laura Schad, Caitlin Fields, Steve Gallow, Randy Hess, Joshua Hunt, Lacy Jordaens, Stacey Stone, Coralia Torres, and Lindsay Welsh.

"I'd like to thank those of you who submitted such thoughtful and compelling nominations," Page said during the ceremony. "It was really, really difficult to go through the process in selecting the winners."

Several staff members were also recognized for their years of service at Cornell:

Five years:

  • Kimberly Budd

  • Ryan Marchenese

  • Richard Valetutto

10 years

  • Eileen Grabosky

  • Ingrid Jensen

15 years

  • Chris Fouracre

  • Allen Ward

  • Scott Yoest

20 years

  • Mike Swartwout

  • Ingrid Jensen

35 years

  • Rebecca Stewart

Patricia Waldron is a writer for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.