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About the Award

An important part of our Operational Excellence culture is recognizing and celebrating the individuals who are the driving force of the University’s administrative functions. The Operational Excellence Award recognizes outstanding contributions by staff members to the advancement of Operational Excellence’s mission to create a high-functioning administrative operation at UNC-Chapel Hill.


Nominees must be UNC-Chapel Hill staff members who have been involved with
Operational Excellence
 at the University level (design) or in their school, department or unit

(Implementation) and have demonstrated excellence in one or more of the following areas:

  • Improvement: Advancing continuous improvement in administrative operations through the design or implementation of tools, processes and services
  • Collaboration: Establishing partnerships and contributing to an environment of collaboration to effectively solve problems by sharing knowledge, ideas and solutions
  • Leadership: Building and leading enthusiastic and skillful teams and/or championing innovative initiatives


Please stay tuned for more details about the next Operational Excellence Award nomination cycle. If you have any questions about the award or nomination process, please contact Nick Sengstaken at

Past Winners

OE Award for Improvement

2019 – Rich Arnold (Early Impact: Staff Hiring), Senior Director, HR Information Management

OE Award for Leadership

2019 – Sara Reese (Early Impact: Staff Hiring), Senior Talent Acquisition Partner, OHR, and John Medlin (Early Impact: Procurement), Senior Purchasing Agent, Procurement Services Operations

OE Award for Collaboration

2019 – Dani Burns (Research Design Team), Budget Analyst, School of Medicine


The winners of the inaugural Operational Excellence Award were announced at the One Year of Operational Excellence event on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, which celebrated the progress that has been made on the initiative’s goals since it launched in September 2018 and the people from our Carolina community who made it happen. An award was given in each of the three categories for which we solicited nominations: improvement, collaboration and leadership.

From left to right: Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations Rick Wernoski, John Medlin, Dani Burns, Rich Arnold, Sara Reese, Executive VIce Chancellor Robert A. Blouin.

Photo by Jon Gardiner (UNC-Chapel Hill)