Kim Bullington, who works for Interdisciplinary Studies programs as an academic department associate at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, has been named the recipient of the October 2018 STAR Award.
She was nominated by Misty McPhee, associate professor for environmental studies.
Bullington’s nomination follows:
“This is one of those, “Where do I begin?” moments. Kim Bullington deserves this award and much, much more for all that she does for the interdisciplinary studies. Her job is monumental as she supports and manages four separate programs: African American studies (AAS), environmental studies (ES), social justice (SJ), and women’s and gender atudies (WAGS). As if this were not enough, Kim goes above and beyond to support students, help organize campus events, collaborate with other ADAs on campus, and provide a fun and supportive atmosphere in the office.
Managing four programs
“It’s often said that working two half-time jobs is far more difficult and time-consuming than working a single job full-time. Kim Bullington, in a sense, works four different half-time jobs. This means that she handles the budget, the cycle of course building, and sets of student needs for each of the four programs, and they all require management in a slightly different way. Kim individualizes her support for each program. For example, for AAS, she is the editor of the monthly newsletter; for ES, she helps students plan the Free School; for SJ, she assists with Social Justice Week; for WAGS, she plans the annual graduation banquet. We all trust her judgment to manage these competing tasks in a way that makes the most sense for her and allows her to keep the office running smoothly and efficiently. A crucial part of this is Kim’s ability to work independently, without needing to be micromanaged.
“It is impossible to quantify or explain the myriad difficulties of coordinating work for four program administrators and four different sets of students (with their four different program requirements). Kim meets these challenges through her amazing ability to manage numerous tasks at once with surprising efficiency. Kim is aware of deadlines and expectations by the College of Letters and Science and keeps all four directors on pace to complete tasks by those deadlines, and she offers friendly reminders here and there to support them. She takes thorough notes for the minutes in steering committee and department meetings and often invests extra time in the evenings and occasionally on weekends to support all four programs. Her ability to organize the budgets is particularly noteworthy. In some areas, the four programs share a budget; in other areas, they function independently. Kim keeps all of the accounts for all four programs in good shape. Her organizational abilities are also evident in her time management skills.
“Not only does she meet the programs’ academic and logistical needs, she helps with planning and implementing a wide array of co-curricular activities throughout the academic year, all of which require intensive, time-consuming work on Kim’s part—reserving rooms; creating and disseminating publicity; processing and coordinating payments. For example, she is an integral part of planning Free School, a sprawling event that requires scheduling dozens of rooms, food, speakers, transportation, and other events. Kim is a primary adviser to the students in the planning and logistics of this event. She also works tirelessly to help plan events associated with Earth Charter, Earth Week and Social Justice Week. Last fall, her work to navigate the bureaucracy to bring in Annie Leonard, a globally important speaker, was indispensable.
“Kim also has particularly effective communication skills. She has built relationships with ADAs and administrative staff from across the college and the university, and these relationships have led to smoother operations in our programs. For example, she regularly works with ADAs from other departments on the building of cross-listed courses, again recognizing that different departmental ADAs have different preferences on how to most effectively collaborate. Other examples include the planning of speakers and events and the scheduling of rooms and equipment. Kim also navigates relationships with the COLS office, Administrative Services, and students in ways that facilitate the effective operation of the office. Further evidence of Kim’s strong communication skills can be found in the excellent working relationships that she maintains with all the faculty and staff connected with our programs.
In addition to supporting faculty and other ADAs, Kim supports students. From my experience at UWO and at other institutions, Kim’s level of interaction with and support of students is extraordinary and clearly outside of her normal job responsibilities. For example, her work with Student Environmental Action Coalition to plan and execute Free School takes a significant personal investment on Kim’s part. In another instance, she taught a student how to use the Qualtrics program to develop a survey for the student’s research—again, clearly above and beyond the standard description of a departmental ADA. As a result of Kim’s willingness to help students, they see her as a valuable resource and appreciate her beyond measure. Kim is very open and welcoming and the students (maybe to Kim’s detriment) do not hesitate to talk to Kim when they need something, whether it be a room reservation or just some encouragement to make it through the day. Providing such support is surely not in Kim’s job description but it shows how much she cares about our students and goes above and beyond to serve them and our program.
“Finally, Kim is just an amazing person and a joy to work with. The students aren’t the only ones who see Kim as a friendly ear. When I am feeling down and stressed, I will often go in just to get a shot of Kim’s good cheer. I know that others do the same. (Yet, she still successfully manages an overwhelming workload!) Kim will often bring in cookies or other treats which, while bad for my waistline, have done wonders for our individual and collective mental health. Amazingly, while she supports numerous faculty and students, she treats us all as if we were her only responsibility. She often pops into faculty offices before she prepares to leave at the end of the day, asking if we need anything from her before she leaves. That is what I call individualized care.
“I asked my colleagues to provide their perception of Kim and their responses were heartfelt and emphatic that Kim receive this award. Much of the text in this letter was adopted from their comments. I will sum, however, by quoting directly from various emails I received about Kim:”
“Not only does she complete her tasks with speed, competence, and pleasantness; she also adds her warmth, compassion and good cheer to our office environment, benefiting students and faculty alike. We are deeply, amazingly blessed to receive the gift of her time and talents in interdisciplinary studies. I know no one else more deserving of this… award: Kim is a shining star:” Laura Hartman
“In these fiscally desperate times when everyone on campus has been asked to do more with less, it is quite possible that Kim Bullington has been doing the most with the least. That Kim is able to juggle the complex work of four different programs is worthy enough, it seems to me, of (a STAR) award. That she does so with grace, good humor, and aplomb and at such a consistently high level of skill and accomplishment is testament to her commitment and dedication, and this nomination reflects our desire to see that recognized:” Ron Rindo
“She conducts herself with professionalism and a spirit of collaboration and has a good sense of humor to get us through some of the challenging days. Kim is an asset to our programs and deserves special recognition and acknowledgement:” Courtney Bauder
“Kim truly is a one-of-a-kind person and colleague. None of us could do what we do without her.”