Outstanding Classified Staff Award

The Outstanding Classified Staff Award recognizes an individual who exemplifies a positive and creative approach to problem solving and innovation. Their work significantly advances departmental goals and/or the university mission through initiative, leadership, or creative problem-solving. With the support of the President, the two classified staff unions on campus (WFSE and PSE) together select members to receive this award.

Selection Criteria

To be considered, the individual must demonstrate contribution to the work unit, department, college or university that furthers the university's mission and strategic goals through any of the following ways:

  • Excellence in job performance.
  • Personal initiative and leadership that supports and builds a positive work environment.
  • Innovative approach to problem-solving that enables sustained improvement
  • Commitment to student success, critical thought, creativity, and sustainability.
  • Commitment to equity and justice, and respect for the rights and dignity of others.


The award recipient will be presented with a Western medallion award at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in May.

Award Administration

Heather Christianson, PSE Co-President and Award Committee Chair (heather.christianson@wwu.edu).

Nomination Process

- Nominations may be made by any member of the Western community.
- Nominees must be a permanent classified staff member who has completed one year of service by January 31, 2024. 

The nomination process for the 2024 award is CLOSED. Thank you for taking the time to nominate a collegeague!


Diane Brearley stands on the Old Main Lawn wearing the WWU award medallion

Diane Brearley - Economics

Diane’s journey at Western began as a student in 1979. She returned as an administrative assistant in the Equal Opportunity Office in 2006. In 2010, she joined the Economics Department as department manager.

Diane is the heart and soul of the Economics Department. She is hard working, caring, conscientious, and student-focused, and when combined with her kindness and genuine desire to help people, the result is something quite special. Diane goes above and beyond what is asked of her. She is a leader amongst the staff in CBE and is a valued resource for her fellow department managers. Diane is also one hundred percent committed to student success. Students can be assured that she has their best interests at heart and will do her utmost to help them succeed. She anticipates student needs, and they regularly turn to her for advice.

Diane arrives every day ready to take on whatever challenges are ahead and does so with a smile. She is the department organizer, photographer and historian, event planner, marketing and social media expert, newsletter author, technical adviser, and always, the department’s biggest cheerleader. She truly embodies the mission and values of Western Washington University.

Kyle Mikkelsen smiling in front of Old Main wearing a WWU award medallion

Kyle Mikkelsen - Advanced Material Science and Engineering Center

Kyle Mikkelsen is an integral part of Western’s Advanced Material Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC), where he serves as the lab manager. With over nine years of experience in this position, Kyle has played a pivotal role in the operation and management of various advanced instrumentation crucial for teaching and research activities within the university.

"Kyle maintains a high level of productivity, despite the ever-increasing demand for our instrument center and his time," says Amanda Murphy, AMSEC director. “This dedication is evident in his meticulous oversight of sophisticated lab equipment, ensuring smooth coordination of researcher schedules,” says Milton From, associate professor of physics.

Kyle collaborates with faculty and students from the departments of Environmental Science, Chemistry, Engineering, Geology, Mathematics, and Physics, fostering synergistic solutions to complex materials-related challenges. His expertise extends beyond lab management; he actively participates in planning, directing, and coordinating project requirements. "One of Kyle's key roles is to provide guidance and support to both students and faculty in research design and implementation," says another anonymous nominator. Through his leadership, expertise, and unwavering commitment to excellence, Kyle plays a crucial role in fulfilling AMSEC's mission of supporting interdisciplinary research and fostering innovation.

Past Awardees

4 awardee(s) for this year

2023 Awardees

Carrie Arrnett smiles wearing a WWU medallion on a neck ribbon with sun dappled leaves in the background

Carrie Annett - Chemistry

Chemistry Department Manager Carrie Annett leads her department’s administrative office team with a professional, collegial, and friendly approach. As one faculty member put it, “She is undeniably the heart and soul of the Chemistry department.” Annett started working at Western in 1995 as a fiscal technician in the Viking Union and has worked in several areas across campus, including Administrative Computing, Elementary Education, and Chemistry (on two separate occasions) where she began as manager in 2013.

In 2021, Chemistry experienced an unprecedented period of staff vacancies, with six of nine staff positions turning over. Annett remained positive and worked many extra hours to avoid disruption of department operations. She offered creative solutions to hire exemplary people and went above and beyond to train multiple new team members simultaneously.
Annett is an innovative leader with a wealth of institutional knowledge. Her accomplishments over the years include key contributions to the development of flow charts for summer student hiring, onboarding the Chemistry Stockroom as a Banner Store, and serving as mentor to multiple new CSE department managers. One previous mentee stated, “Carrie is an inspiration and someone you can count on to show up and go above and beyond in every situation.”

Jimmy Perigo smiling and wearing a Western shirt and an award medallion on a neck ribbon

Jimmy Perigo - Facilities

Jimmy Perigo has been a critical member of the Western’s Academic Custodial Services team since November 1998, performing higher level duty assignments in a majority of the construction trade shops at WWU. He has extensive knowledge of the university and knows how much harm building-related emergencies can cause. 

Now supervisor of the Water Damage Response Team, Perigo responds to any emergency where water has intruded into our buildings by either a leak, an overflowed sink or toilet, or an emergency flooding event. He and his team are usually one of the first WWU staff members on location to assist in eliminating the cause of the leak and in creating the clean-up plan. Perigo leads his team in evaluating whether they are able to dry the building material or if it’s better to remove the damaged or contaminated material and replace it. Perigo and his team have minimized unnecessary costs and disruption, especially in large emergency floods, and demonstrate a high level of care to those whose routines were upended by these stressful, unexpected events.

Meanwhile, Perigo has continued to lead and care for the custodial teams assigned to him to ensure the highest level of cleanliness and health for the university community. 

Kate Stevenson in a white cable knit sweater standing in front of Old Main with a WWU award medallion on a neck ribbon

Kate Stevenson - Honors College

Kate Stevenson’s involvement at Western began in 1996 as an undergraduate student employee on the Viking Union Set Crew. Cultivating relationships with staff, faculty, students, and community throughout the years provided her the opportunity to continue her career at WWU. She taught in the Dance Department for three years before starting her career as a classified staff person. Stevenson returned to the Viking Union Operations team as the Event Services manager, then to New Student Services/Family Outreach as the Family Outreach manager, and currently serves as the program manager in the Honors College. 

Stevenson’s colleagues overwhelmingly praise her enthusiastic energy, positive outlook, collaborative and supportive spirit, and ability to get things done. In addition to the great work she does for the Honors College, she is also a popular instructor in the WWU Wellness Program, whipping faculty and staff into shape and making workouts fun. One stated: “In a sea of chaos and anxiety, Kate is an island of tranquility. She is in command without being at all commanding, she exudes competence, and she is simply a delight to work with. She adds luster to any endeavor with which she is associated.”

Ryan Cullup with a broad smile in front of Old Main wearing a vivid blue shirt and a WWU medallion on a neck ribbon

Ryan Cullup - Facilities

Ryan Cullup has spent 13 years at Western serving as a custodian, a roofer, and now Facilities Services coordinator – all while working toward his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Cullup has continually contributed to Western from a servant leadership mindset while holistically assisting Facilities Development & Operations in developing the planned maintenance and asset management portfolio. Most recently, he has honed his project management skills on public works projects with a combined construction value of nearly $2 million. He is a member of Western’s Confined Space Rescue team and a former union president. 

Outside of Western, Cullup spends time in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island counties fishing, officiating high school wrestling matches, and raising a family. He is extremely dedicated to a life filled with learning and supporting his fellow employees while serving our customers, our students, and the citizens of Washington state.