President’s Exceptional Effort Awards

The President’s Exceptional Effort Awards are presented to up to eight Professional or Classified employees, across all five divisions, who have demonstrated an exceptional effort in support of one or more of the three core themes of the strategic plan: Advancing Inclusive Success, Increasing Washington Impact, and/or Enhancing Academic Excellence. 

Thank you for taking the time to nominate a colleague!

Selection Criteria

Nominees must be either a permanent classified employee or a permanent professional staff employee that have clearly demonstrated an exceptional effort supporting the strategic plan through the following:

  • Excellence of Performance: Performance that consistently throughout the year exceeds the quality that is expected, and has resulted in important and significant contributions to their work unit and the University.
  • Personal Interaction: Performance that demonstrates exceptional ability and willingness to work positively and effectively with others.
  • Initiative and Creativity: Performance that demonstrates an innovative approach to the job and a willingness to manage changes in work priorities, procedures, and organization.
  • Outstanding Achievement: Performance that has resulted in important and significant contributions to the work unit and thus has furthered Western`s mission and strategic goals.


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

Award Administration

President’s Office (Michele Anderson,

Nomination Process

Nominations may be made by any WWU faculty or staff member and open in the fall.

Each Vice President will review the nominations of employees nominated in their division and forward all nominations, in ranked order, to the President, who will personally select eight final award recipients.

The nomination process for the 2024 award is CLOSED. Thank you to those that took the time to nominate a colleague that is doing great things!


Zach McGrew smiling and wearing a WWU medallion award on a neck ribbon with trees in the background

Zach McGrew - Computer Science

Zach McGrew, the Computational Science administrator in the Computer Science Department, began at Western as an undergrad in Computer Science where he went on to complete his master’s degree in 2018. After a short stint teaching as a non-tenure track faculty member, he helped create his position, which runs the high-performance computer clusters serving the Computer Science Department and seven other departments in the College of Science and Engineering. McGrew supports faculty and student researchers to build, run, and optimize their research environments and projects. By working directly with faculty and students, he has been able to ensure that academic classes can utilize the cluster environments and that researchers can get access to the computer resources that they need.

In addition to working as the cluster administrator, McGrew helps the Computer Science Support group to run the computer science infrastructure and the environments for their academic and research labs. By leveraging his experience as a student, he provides insight into the problems that students may encounter. McGrew is known in the department for his knowledge and expertise, his skill in explaining complex issues in understandable terms, and his consistently friendly and professional demeanor. 

Stephanie Norsby smiling proudly in front of Old Main wearing a WWU award medallion on a neck ribbon

Stephanie Norsby - Human Resources

Assistant Director Human Resources Stephanie Norsby has been a source of continuity in during a period of dramatic transition in HR. Her colleagues admire her for her wealth of HR and institutional knowledge, and the tremendous amount of work she accomplishes, all with a factual, positive, solutions-oriented approach. She recently took on the additional role of the HR liaison to Academic Affairs, which supports nearly 75 percent of employees on campus. Norsby meets regularly with college operations managers to solve a wide array of daily and critical issues, such as emergent medical leaves, priority hiring to fill crucial vacancies, and tricky personnel issues. 

Colleagues who awarded her the Professional Staff Award for Excellence put it like this: “With the loss of so many HR staff members in 2022, Stephanie took on extra work tasks, including communicating directly with all the colleges in Academic Affairs to help keep the human resource needs met and moving forward. Stephanie has shown incredible dedication and remains positive in all her interactions. She makes sure we feel we are heard. She is caring and is easy to approach, as she welcomes anyone with a big smile always. The professionalism that she has displayed, coupled with her ability to problem-solve our time-sensitive issues, contributes to Western’s mission and values that include pursuing excellence, and displaying integrity, responsibility, and accountability in all our work. She is just an amazing employee for Western, and we are very lucky to have her in HR.”

Past Awardees

6 awardee(s) for this year

2022 Awardees

Byron Gouette wearing a WWU award medallion

Byron Gouette - Facilities Management

Byron Gouette started his WWU employment as an ACS student worker in 2009 acquiring the skills that led to his current position as an ACS Supervisor for the Project Crew, Repair Shop, Supply Delivery team, Shannon Point Marine Center team, and Old Main/Humanities team.  After graduating from WWU with a BA in English and Film Studies, he made it a mission to inspire and promote inclusion and equity; and  to further his knowledge and to better communicate with the deaf members of his team, Byron took ASL classes and continues to provide assistance.

When asked to join the Water Damage Response Team, Byron jumped at the opportunity; quickly becoming instrumental with tackling large and small-scale floods campus-wide.

Byron serves as one of the four members of the ISOQ Transport and Response Team relocating sick students (off and on campus) to isolation/quarantine areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. This high-risk task has been a challenge that he has graciously accepted despite being on call after-hours and during weekends.

Outside of WWU, he works in film and photography and has utilized these skills to create videos highlighting the WWU Facilities Management team and all of their hard work.

CJ Seitz wearing WWU award medallion

CJ Seitz - Small Business Development Center

CJ’s relationship with Western began with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1993. After working in the private sector, CJ returned to Western to earn a Masters degree in Business Administration in 2006. Her passion for business kept her at Western, where CJ was appointed as a Certified Business Advisor at Western’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), that same year.  

After executive roles in the public and private sectors, CJ came back to Western in 2015 to serve as the Center Director for the SBDC. Established in 1989, the SBDC is a grant supported center and as its director, CJ has raised over seven million dollars to sustain center operations.

CJ is a leading partner in Whatcom County’s economic development strategy and works closely with the Port of Bellingham, Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham to support our small businesses and community growth.  Much of this work falls outside the mandate defined for SBDCs by the federal Small Business Administration.  Another area of unmet need that CJ and team have identified is the lack of tailored technical assistance for emerging Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and Black-owned businesses in Whatcom County.

Jeff Osthimer wearing a WWU award medallion

Jeffery Osthimer - Facilities Management

Jeff Osthimer has been a critical member of the Western Washington University’s ISOQ Transport Team since September 2020. Jeff is one of only four team members that have volunteered for the responsibility of safely transporting students to and from the isolation spaces in Ridgeway Beta and Ridgeway Gamma. This work requires Jeff and the team to interact at close proximity to students who are positive with the COVID-19 virus during the transport process. Jeff has shown a high level of empathy and compassion for the students who are needing the isolation support services. This attention to the student’s emotional needs has garnered multiple compliments from the students and their parents. Jeff has willingly participated in the ISOQ transports afterhours, weekends, and even holidays with a positive attitude. Jeff has also cleaned and disinfected the Student COVID-19 Testing Center daily since it opened and shows deep care for the students and staff who are utilizing the College Hall Testing Center. Jeff is an eight-year army veteran and has worked at Western for 12 years.

Julie Weisgerber wearing a WWU award medallion

Julie Weisgerber - Athletics

Julie is currently in her 20th year at WWU as an athletic trainer in the Department of Athletics, serving the last two as the head athletic trainer for the Vikings. She earned a B.A. in Physical Education from San Diego State University and an MS in Education from Southern Illinois University. Julie is certified member of the National Athletic Trainers Association and a member of National Strength and Conditioning Association. A diligent worker that always has a positive attitude, Weisgerber helped the department through the difficult time during the pandemic, coordinating the various needs of student-athletes across all sports while meeting the demands of keeping everyone safe while returning to play. She logged extra hours without complaint balancing the ever-changing testing protocols and was in constant communication with coaches, administrators, and student-athletes. Julie always places the health and safety of WWU’s student-athletes at the very front of her priority list and does it with professionalism and dedication. She is not only well-respected by her peers across the nation, but our coaches and student-athletes value her expertise and trust her in every situation.

Melinda Assink wearing a WWU award medallion

Melinda Assink - Provost Office

Melinda Assink is the Assistant to the Provost at Western Washington University.  Before joining the Provost’s Office in 2012, she spent four years teaching middle and high school Social Studies and English Language Arts.  Melinda earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Social Studies and a Secondary Education teaching certificate from WWU. She is currently working on a Masters of Education in Adult and Higher Education.

While much of her job involves supporting the Provost administratively, she works closely with Academic Deans, Vice Presidents, faculty, and staff. Along with her  incredible colleagues, Hannah Okotcha and Casey Garboden, during Academic Year 2020 - 2021, she built a new workshop on academic integrity for students who have violated the Academic Honesty Policy at Western. The Academic Integrity Program (AIP) was designed as an informative, interactive, and positive learning experience for students going through this process. The team, along with the Western Coalition for Integrity, is currently developing a proactive workshop for new students to learn about Western’s academic integrity expectations, and compiling resources and education for all community members regarding this important issue.

Melinda’s work is integral to creating and maintaining an academic integrity culture at Western, and directly impacts students’ success. Her passion lies in helping support students and faculty within our university community.

Peter Thut wearing a WWU award medallion

Peter Thut - Biology

Peter first came to Western in the mid-1990s as a graduate student in Biology. He returned in 2005 as the Biology Stockroom Manager supporting teaching and research. During his career, Peter has created a supportive and effective team of dedicated lab techs who facilitate the highest caliber of student learning and experiences.

Peter has been instrumental in many important renovations, including Western’s first cadaver teaching labs, culminating in the new Interdisciplinary Science Building. He has taken on a leadership role acting a liaison between contractors, facilities management, architects, and ends users from five different departments. The additional duties have led to a revision of his job description and a new job title: Biology and ISB Laboratory Manager.

Peter’s greatest pride comes from his connections with the people at Western. He enjoys working throughout the University, chaired the Central Health and Safety Committee, and advocating for staff. Peter has served on search committees across multiple divisions and departments. He actively seeks out collaboration and cooperation with people across campus from ATUS and FM to Business Services and Academic Affairs. Above all, Peter works to create a supportive community in which people love to work.