The College of Engineering (CoE) at the University of Michigan has a tradition of recognizing exceptional service through the Staff Incentive Program. This year, the 2023 Staff Incentive Awards, which celebrate staff that embody CoE values, will be conferred upon three extraordinary staff members from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). We ask the CEE community to join in applauding the stellar contributions of Matt Blank, Sherry Brueger, and Tom Yavaraski, who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and unparalleled professionalism in their respective roles.
Matt Blank, the incumbent Student Services Manager at CEE, has built a legacy worth embodying since he joined the department in May 2008. From his early days as an Undergraduate Programs Coordinator to his advancement to Manager, Blank’s journey has been a testament to his steadfast dedication. Serving for over four years as the leader of the Student Services Team, Matt successfully led several initiatives to ensure efficient workflow, earning trust and respect along the way. Going beyond the realms of his designated role, he initiated creative strategies to keep on top of the team’s responsibilities, leaving no room for lapses.
Blank proved indispensable during the recent ABET Accreditation Review, leading the team towards a successful evaluation, and cementing the integral position he holds within the university. His work with undergraduate programs, financial aid, degree audits and new advisor training sessions has consistently amplified the department’s performance. His unwavering transparency and leadership, hence, have rightly earned him the 2023 Staff Incentive Award.
Sherry Brueger, another distinguished recipient of the award, is being honored for her over three decades of loyal service to U-M, including more than 15 years with CEE. As an administrative and HR assistant, Sherry has consistently demonstrated unwavering commitment and trustworthiness.
As the primary point of contact for faculty searches and new hires, Sherry leveraged her position to cultivate relationships with incoming faculty before anyone else. She spearheaded a campaign to focus on building extraordinary teams through onboarding activities, creating a warm, inclusive environment. Furthermore, she led the first icebreaker during staff meetings which has contributed to stronger relationships among the staff, showcasing her leadership, creativity, and impactful efforts.
Finally, Tom Yavaraski, the longest-serving staff member of CEE and the present Manager of the EWRE laboratories, is being awarded for his consistent embodiment of the CoE values. Since 1989, Yavaraski’s expertise has played a pivotal role in research projects, keeping faculty and graduate students at the forefront of technology and ensuring the lab’s safety and space utilization. His collegiality and collaboration efforts, such as cultivating strong ties with CoE Facilities and Employee Health Services, have greatly assisted in high-quality research projects. Rising to the occasion during a tricky phase filled with renovations, Yavaraski navigated the challenges efficiently, demonstrating exceptional leadership, collegiality, and transparency.
As we look toward the department’s future in 2024, we are excited to honor Matt Blank, Sherry Brueger, and Tom Yavaraski, who have all walked an extra mile to execute their duties and uphold the values of the University of Michigan. These accolades serve as a testament to their immense hard work and dedication and set a motivating example for the future of the CEE department.