Employees Making a Difference: Annette Blanchette
On any given day, more than 100 pieces of cleaning equipment are spread across the UW-River Falls campus. From the Falcon’s Nest in the University Center to the halls of Hagestad, the staff of Custodial Services are working to keep 1.3 million square feet of building space shining bright and clean. And it falls to Melissa Davis, the department’s lead worker, to keep track of everything.
So when she realized that with more training in computer spreadsheet programs she could design a better tracking system for the vacuums, carpet cleaners and other equipment on campus, Davis applied for the Sally Margis University Staff Development Award.
“It’s a great asset for University staff here on campus,” said Davis, who received the award last year. “It lets full-time workers take courses they otherwise couldn’t and helps them keep up-to-date with new technology.”
Davis used the money to buy new computer equipment and to take online training in spreadsheets. Now she’s better able to track the location of equipment and log repairs.
“It helps us to understand the usage of the equipment and when to replace it,” she said.
This kind of campus-wide benefit is exactly what the Sally Margis University Staff Development Award was designed to do. The fund’s namesake was a program assistant in the UWRF Chancellor’s Office for a decade before she passed away from cancer in 1998. Her colleague, Annette Blanchette along with the Margis family, established an endowment fund in her honor and was designed to provide university staff career development support. Blanchette, whose career at UW-River Falls spanned 33 years, passed away in 2015. She had further included a provision in her estate plan to ensure additional support of the fund.
To receive the award, staff members must write a letter of intent that outlines the training or workshop they plan to attend, explain how it will further their development and explain what costs the award will cover.
To Davis, the award was a boon for herself and UW-River Falls, increasing her knowledge base and creating improved efficiencies in the custodial department.
“By tracking things better, we are able to budget for repairs and replacement better, and save time and money by planning ahead,” she said.