Outstanding Maverick Awards

Service Audience:
  • Current Employee
  • Supervisor
  • Faculty

Each year the Outstanding Maverick Award Selection Committee chooses 8 individuals and 1 team for making an impact on the university through belonging and engagement, community outreach, service excellence or sustainability. The winners are honored in March with a celebration hosted by the Office of Talent, Culture and Engagement (TCE).

2023 Award Winners by Category and Nomination Entry

Category: Belonging & Engagement

Blake has made a tremendously positive impact in the lives of students, staff, and faculty over his 25+ years of service at UTA. I have had the privilege of working with him over my 13+ years here. He shares his "Food for Thought" with an email list of employees that has continued to grow over the years. He sends these encouraging emails each morning that provide personal anecdotes, words of wisdom, and well wishes for a great day to impact student success. He has touched countless lives as an instructor in Modern Languages and as a Manager in University Analytics. His positivity is contagious, and one needs only a few minutes of conversation with him to see his passion for students and the mission of higher education. He is genuinely a good person who embodies the spirit of inclusion, belonging and engagement in the UTA community. He is known by many across campus, and he is beloved by all. As he nears retirement in a few years, I believe that this is the ideal time to recognize his impact on the campus community.

Patrick Jackson brings strong assets to his role and our group is incredibly fortunate to have him at The University of Texas at Arlington. First, Mr. Jackson is dedicated and focused on continuously learning and developing best practices to bring a positive college experience to all the students at UTA. Over the past two years, Mr. Jackson has focused on helping our first-generation students that thoroughly impressed me.

Mr. Jackson brings true professional attributes to UTA and genuinely care about delivering excellent service for our students. Over the last few years, his supervisors have approached him with an idea in my mind of what was needed or wanted to do. He took the initiative to figure out what students needed with minimal guidance, and then delivered on the task. He facilitated an outreach program to over 1,000 first gen and transfer students. The program focused on connecting students with peers to help them adjust in their transition to UTA. The program allowed students to receive one-on-one virtual appointments with current mavericks and exclusive communication via email and text message that centered around tips for a smooth transition to college.

Mr. Jackson also always go above and beyond the call of duty in pursuing excellence. For example, in supporting the first gen initiative, he collaborated with departments throughout campus and found creative ways to support the vision of growing the First-Gen Brunch & Alumni Mixer which kicks off the new academic year and welcomes students and staff to campus. The event received rave reviews by all and helped build the culture of our university.

My nominee does so much more for students, staff, and alumni to feel a sense of belonging at the university. He truly embodies what it means to be a Maverick.

Category: Community Outreach

Carole Coleman's devotion to students and her connections and partnerships with alumni and business in the engineering filed make her an ideal candidate for this award.  Her efforts promote success in many different areas across the College of Engineering, UTA, and the community as a whole.

Carole is the Coordinator of Engineering Career Readiness Initiatives and currently handles this role single-handedly.  She consistently coordinates employer spotlight events, alumni connection nights, resume review events, and multiple visits from major employers from around the DFW Metroplex throughout the semester.

She also organizes, implements, and runs a semi-annual College of Engineering Career Fair, and each one is bigger and better than the previous one!  This past fall, she arranged 192 companies to attend, and had over 3,000 students visit the fair.  She also runs a program through Canvas to help students with resume writing, and the course has over 4,000 views.

As a member of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Advising Office, we have many students asking about internships opportunities and career advice.  I know when I refer them to Carole, they will be provided with exceptional customer service and a wealth of information to help them achieve their goals. 

She is such an important resource, and the College and students are all better because of her and the efforts she has made for years and continues to make each semester.

Ashley Smith, our esteemed Special Program Coordinator, stands as a vibrant ambassador for our university through her multifaceted commitment to service and volunteering. Beyond the routine tasks of ordering supplies, account reconciliation, and event organization, Ashley brings an infectious enthusiasm to her role, consistently executing her responsibilities with unwavering dedication and a contagious smile. As the welcoming face of our department, she embodies the spirit of service that resonates with the university's values.

Notably, Ashley serves as an active member of the Staff Advisory Council (SAC), playing a pivotal role in fostering communication and collaboration within our office. Her proactive engagement extends beyond mere attendance at SAC meetings; she diligently disseminates crucial information, ensuring that our team is well-informed and connected. Moreover, Ashley's commitment to the university's mission is exemplified by her extensive volunteer work for various SAC events, showcasing her passion for enhancing the university community.

Prior to joining the Office of Internal Audit, Ashley contributed significantly to the university's vibrant atmosphere through her role in the Office of Student Affairs under Student Governance. Her seamless transition to the current position has not dampened her spirit of involvement; instead, she has seamlessly woven her expertise into the fabric of our department's success.

In essence, Ashley's journey reflects a continuous thread of dedication to the university's values and community. Her service-oriented mindset and active involvement make her a true ambassador, leaving an indelible mark on our institution. As the heartbeat of our department, Ashley embodies the ethos of service and collaboration that defines our university community.

Category: Service Excellence

Jennifer Hill provides Maverick excellence through her outstanding service to not only her academic department but to the College of Business (COB) as a whole.  She is quick to jump in and volunteer to assist when other administrative assistants are out of the office or when someone is leaving their position.  Jennifer has done this the entire eight and a half years she has been employed with the College of Business.  This summer she approached the Dean’s office with the idea of creating a Canvas course to help the admins with various areas of their jobs.  She developed a job aide that covers 18 different areas from using UT Share, to faculty hiring to semester assignments.  This has proven extremely effective and useful for our administrative staff.  The administrative staff in the college respect and seek out Jennifer when they are dealing with other than routine assignments because she has proven time and again that she has the knowledge, skills and is happy to assist others.  She has served on administrative staff hiring committees and then ensures the new employee is appropriately trained and feels welcome to the college.  Jennifer represents the college on the University Staff Advisory Council. She has taken on recurring special assignments like handling the award payments for the MAV Pitch contest and duties associated with the Ericsson Business Analytics certificate program. Jennifer truly takes ownership of her job and serves as an example to others on how to be an engaged team member.  She is quick to point out areas we can improve on and suggest how to accomplish them.  She does all of this with a smile and is genuinely one of the nicest people to work with.  Jennifer is the epitome of Maverick Excellence and should be recognized as such.

Joe Zschiesche is the embodiment of an unsung hero. After serving in the military and in the Dept. of Transportation, Joe transitioned his career to UTA to begin working in the University's Compliance Services department 5 years ago. When Joe started at UTA aside from doing his job well, he wanted to become an active member in the Maverick community - which he loves. Joe's extra mile service includes providing encouragement to staff and faculty who may need a kind word after a difficult and/or busy day. He doesn't have to know the person; Joe has the innate ability to know when a person could use some support. Joe also enjoys giving back and as a result loves volunteering for graduation, move-in, and participating in the UTA blood drives. During Covid, Joe volunteered to deliver meals to students who needed to be isolated in another residence hall. Joe did this because he embraces servant leadership. Joe also remembers special days and is one of the first ones to offer a congratulations or praise (along with a token of appreciation) to people who are celebrating birthdays, promotions, or the accomplishment of goals. His friendly demeanor and infectious spirit are also well appreciated in his service to the UTA Staff Advisory Council. Finally, and most importantly, Joe shares knowledge that he's gained over time with other employees to help make their job that much easier. These tidbits of data provide information on who to call, where to find documents, and how to effectively navigate UTA. That level of leadership is why I believe Mr. Joe Zschiesche deserves to be honored for the Maverick Excellence award.

Category: Sustainability

I am writing to enthusiastically nominate Morgan Chivers for the Outstanding Maverick Award in recognition of his outstanding commitment and in the area of sustainability. Morgan has consistently demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment by serving as Chair of the campus Sustainability Committee the past couple years, co-chairing the Bicycle Co-ordinating Committee, spearheading the Bicycle Library initiative, coordinating the weekly bike rides, serving as faculty advisor for Walkable Arlington, setting up the campus habitat data collection process/organizing BioBlitzes, hosting Libraries Sustainability events such as worm composting and cooking with foraged greens, engaging with the focus groups for the campus master plan, etc. He also supports the Composting program on campus by volunteering to help at the site.

He is very passionate about sustainability programs on campus and has supported the Office Of Sustainability the past years with his expertise and commitment. Morgan has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to sustainability, going above and beyond to create positive change for the environment and the campus community.  I highly recommend him for this Maverick Award.

As part of an EPA Region 6 Pollution Prevention grant providing onsite assistance to Food & Beverage manufacturers, TMAC engineer Cyrus Rahimzadeh worked with NPIC to provide training to their staff on how to identify opportunities to reduce waste throughout their facility. NPIC is an industry leader in pet treats and manufactures high-quality, nutritious, and functional produces to ensure the wellness, happiness, and longevity of all pets.

Cyrus identified an opportunity to reduce NPIC's natural gas usage in their 17 drying rooms to help lower heating costs and also lower its green house gas emissions.  Cyrus sourced a wireless temperature and humidity sensor to determine how long products should dry in their natural gas ovens. Data collected by the sensors indicated that time spent in the ovens can be reduced by 17% reducing natural gas usage and greenhouse gas emissions. The data collected by this sensor gave NPIC a better understanding of the actual temperatures and humidity readings occurring during the 24-hour drying process.  This practical application of wireless sensor technology was instrumental to the success of this pollution prevention project which was awarded the "Best Pollution Project in 2023" by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable. “This project helped our team find new ways to improve our commitment to environmental sustainability as we strive to ensure that pet owners around the world have the healthiest and happiest pets.” -Josh Liu Executive Vice President NPIC.

Category: Team

In an environment where parking issues often lead to heightened emotions, our customer service team has excelled in transforming these moments into opportunities for positive engagement and education about our new and innovative parking solutions, including Daily Upgrades, AI-enabled Parking Finder App, recycled plastic lots, expanded self-driving shuttles, and an improved safety escort service.

Handling an astounding 6,594 calls, 8,869 walk-ins, 27,769 citation appeals, and thousands more emails this past year, the team consistently used these interactions as platforms to diffuse tensions and educate the campus community about these initiatives. Their approach went beyond merely addressing complaints; they skillfully utilized key data and information about our initiatives to turn upset customers into satisfied and well-informed members of our university. Each interaction was a chance to educate and reassure the customer, often converting a negative experience into a positive one.

The team's presence at every New Maverick Orientation and Activity Fair was pivotal in sharing these initiatives with students. By proactively sharing information about our initiatives, they significantly reduced confusion and frustration, fostering a more welcoming and efficient campus environment.

The team's strategy of using data points and innovative product knowledge as tools to diffuse tension and promote satisfaction has been nothing short of transformative. They have not only mastered the art of customer service under pressure but have also played a crucial role in enhancing the perception and effectiveness of our parking services.

This exceptional blend of empathy, efficiency, and educational outreach makes our customer service team the ideal candidates for the Outstanding Maverick Award. Their efforts have not just resolved issues but have also significantly contributed to a more informed, engaged, and satisfied campus community.

Please help me recognize the excellent [and often thankless] service this team does for the campus community by awarding them this much-deserved recognition.


Committee Members:

Candice Calhoun-Butts

CONHI Student Success Advising

LaTosha Carter-Mosley

Facilities Management Administration

Chris Cox

OIT Infrastructure Operations

Mari Duncan

Residence Life Division

Angel Hernandez

University Advising

Sheina Johnson

Talent, Culture, and Engagement

Cherie Keplinger

Talent, Culture, and Engagement

James Kumm

Military and Veteran Services

Amanda Nickerson

Enrollment Management Outreach


Annual Nominations

Each year you can nominate a staff member or team of staff members who deserve recognition!! 

Here at UTA we are elated to have such phenomenal employees. UTA invites you to nominate employees who exemplifies “being a Maverick” in all that they do. We are recognizing up to 8 individuals (2 per category) and 1 team from our institution for their outstanding performance, service excellence, enthusiasm, and dedication in their jobs for the academic year September 1 through August 31.

The Outstanding Maverick Award (OMA) individual honorees receive $1,000 and the Team honorees will share $2,500. Winners will be honored with a celebration hosted by Talent Culture, and Engagement. (TCE). 

Nominations are collected in the fall.  

  • Current UTA Classified and Administrative & Professional staff members who are below Director level are benefits eligible.
  • Benefits eligible employees (appointed 50% to 100%) who have been employed for a minimum of six months during September 1, 2022 through present.
  • The nominee must be in good standing from their most recent performance evaluation ("meets expectation" or higher).
  • Previous honorees who received an award more than five years ago are also eligible.
  • Self-nominations are not accepted.

Engagement & Belonging

This nominee seeks to foster partnerships with communities that value differences with respect to every individual’s exceptional contribution to society. He/she may help provide an environment that ensures unique work and educational experiences through belonging and engagement. 

Community Outreach 

The individual is committed to at least one of the following areas: public service, community service learning through UTA, and/or partnerships with other North Texas businesses and organizations. In addition, as an ambassador of UTA, the nominee may also support and/or assist with public lectures; academic symposia; and artistic, musical, and dramatic productions.  


This nominee is committed to “Going Green” in one or more of the following: environmental stewardship, purchasing, addressing energy and water conservation, transportation, and recycling.

Maverick Excellence

This nominee is someone who projects a positive image, build customer rapport and good will. The nominee has the ability of delivering excellent service; someone who finds ways to exceed the customers expressed and implied needs and also models excellence when promoting UTA.

This award recognizes unique, distinct, and outstanding contributions of employees working as a team (either within a department or cross-divisionally), beyond normal operations. Here are examples of superb teams:

  • Works effectively as part of a team to successfully accomplish a task or meet a goal advancing departmental goals and/or UTA mission.
  • Builds effective collaborative relationships across different groups of departments within the organization to define and solve problems or reach agreements on a course of action while considering multiple perspectives striving to create outstanding projects that contribute to a better UTA.
  • Creates a team environment that promotes communication, trust, cooperation, and respect for differences, meeting strategic and operational goals through an extraordinary team effort.
  • Contributes to a group effort which has a significant impact on departmental goals, fostering cooperation, collaboration, and open communication. Places team goals above personal goals while achieving a distinctive result or product (teams may constitute an entire department and can be cross-functional). 

For questions about the Maverick Award nomination process, eligibility or nomination criteria, or the Outstanding Maverick Award, please contact the Office of Talent, Culture, and Engagement or 817-272-5554.

Outstanding Maverick Award History (PDF)

Office of Talent, Culture, and Engagement
J.D. Wetsel Service Center
1225 W. Mitchell St.,
Suite 212, Box 19176
Arlington, TX 76019
Phone: 817-272-5554 - Fax: 817-272-7288

E-mail: askhr@uta.edu