SLU Stars Recognized for Living the Mission
SLU Stars is a peer-to-peer recognition award that recognizes colleagues who demonstrate
professionalism and behavior congruent with the University's Ignatian ideals, and
whose accomplishments further the mission of Saint Louis University.
Eleven members of the University community were recognized as the fall 2016 SLU Stars
in a ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 17. The awardees are as follows:
- Debra Blanquart, School for Professional Studies
- Kari Elbe, School of Nursing
- Peter Garvin, Department of Public Safety
- Jay Haugen, Office of the Registrar
- Susan Hoffstetter, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Patrick Holt, Transportation Services
- Lisa Israel, Retention and Academic Success
- Karen Janiak, Student Financial Services
- Jennifer Popiel, Department of History
- Joanne Salas, Department of Family and Community Medicine
- Leah Sweetman, Center for Service and Community Engagement
This year, Chris Collins, S.J., assistant to the president for mission and identity,
and Mickey Luna, J.D., vice president of human resources, offered remarks at the awards
“During each award cycle, the committee receives numerous nominations, which in itself
is a tribute to the regard SLU colleagues have for one another," Luna said. "Not only
do these tributes tell the story of our mission one SLU Star at a time, but they also
reflect how ardently the nominators admire and support their colleagues.”
Collins remarked that it is wonderful to learn about the unique contributions of each
SLU Star, who demonstrate the wide variety of activities and departments of Saint
“The SLU Stars event is a time to build community, with many individuals you typically
would not interact with,” Collins said.
SLU Stars are those unheralded faculty and staff members who regularly go above and
beyond to touch the lives of the colleagues, students, clients and patients with whom
they interact on a daily basis. Their commitment to the mission is not a singular
event, but a continuous story of the mission in action. As an initiative within the
Cura program, SLU Stars support a culture of understanding, respect and appreciation for
everyone, and they inspire a collaborative and collegial working, learning, and social
Each nomination cycle, the SLU Stars Committee reviews nominations and selects those
that best speak to the criteria of the award. The SLU Stars Committee includes:
- Alexis Bruce-Staudt, College for Public Health and Social Justice
- Judi Buncher, Office of Mission and Identity
- Peter Garvin, Department of Public Safety
- Cathy Happa, Department of Internal Medicine
- Katie Hoff (chair), Learning and Development
- Maddie O’Connell, Learning and Development
- Rita Stites, Department of Pediatrics
- Cathy Zimmer, College of Arts and Sciences
"It is an honor to be nominated, and an even greater honor to be chosen as a SLU Star,”
said Maddie O'Connell, SLU Stars Committee member.
Learn more about the SLU Stars award
The following is a summarized version of the nominations of each SLU Star:
- Debra Blanquart, senior academic advisor in the School for Professional Studies –
"Deb exemplifies what it means to live by the Ignatian ideals in her daily interactions.
There have been several instances when Deb handled a situation involving a deeply
upset student and managed to turn it from a negative to positive through her compassionate
communication and respect for them as an individual. With her can-do attitude and
optimism, she continues to contribute positively towards maintaining the morale of
all her colleagues."
- Kari Elbe, contract coordinator for the School of Nursing – "In Kari’s role, she interacts
daily with the School of Nursing’s clinical partners and has built strong relationships
with them. In addition to building strong relationships with key partners, she also
takes the time to know her School of Nursing colleagues on a personal level and will
stop what she is going to listen to a coworker in need of some words of encouragement,
which sometimes take the form of song lyrics. Faculty and staff also come to Kari
for her excellent knowledge of technology and how to utilize it for effective record
keeping; she has a gift for taking large amounts of data and organizing it in a meaningful
- Peter Garvin, officer for the Department of Public Safety – "Pete brightens up a room,
and more often SLU’s campus, while treating everyone with kindness. Pete is a person
that is professional at all times; mindful of his position; lives the SLU mission,
embraces Cura and what it stands for, and does not just hope for a change but actively
takes part in fostering positive change to make SLU a better place for all of us in
the years to come. He will stand up and identify an injustice when all around him
will choose to look down or look away."
- Jay Haugen, University registrar – "Over the past several years, drastic systematic
changes were implemented across the university, in large part, due to the leadership
and dedication of Jay and his team. Jay’s respectful and kind approach to addressing
various concerns has continued to allow him to brainstorm with the users. He offers
proposed solutions to problems or needs and reflects on the issue at a later date
to ensure the process is as seamless as possible."
- Susan Hoffstetter, associate professor for urological gynecology – "Susan is committed
to Saint Louis University’s philosophy as evidenced by the exceptional care she provides
to her patients and her steadfast dedication to the mission. She is sensitive to cultural
and ethnic diversity as seen in the individualized care plans she provides for her
patients. Susan’s integrity and honesty are all-encompassing, and she treats her colleagues
with the same amount of respect and dignity as she does her patients."
- Patrick Holt, assistant for transportation services – "Patrick is a shining example
of serving others while skillfully completing the many diverse and challenging duties
related to his position. He works to ensure the transportation for the Micah program
is coordinated as easily and efficiently as possible, always in a professional and
positive manner. Patrick positively impacts those he works with through his sense
of humor, can-do attitude, and willingness to reach out and do more than is expected."
- Lisa Israel, director of retention and academic success for the Student Success Center
– "Lisa has not only been an exceptional leader and contributor to the Division of
Student Development, but additionally an active member in service to the larger SLU
community. She is a collaborative leader throughout campus - maximizing her relationships
to advance the work to support student success. Lisa consistently fosters a spirit
of excellence in her own work, and in her expectations and accountability of the staff
who report to her."
- Karen Janiak, assistant director of student accounts for Student Financial Services
– "Karen has been instrumental in developing the Banner system to charge student accounts.
The rules that go into charging tuition are very complex, and she has mastered how
to input the information so it makes it look like a simple puzzle she’s worked on.
Karen always has an open ear and is easily approachable; whether it be a tense phone
call or even a personal matter she always makes you feel comfortable going to her
- Jennifer Popiel, associate professor of history – "The Department of History’s go-to
person on any question related to SLU’s mission, Jennifer has led workshops on Ignatian
pedagogy, taken part in discussions of the Jesuit core and participated in week-long
seminars on SLU’s mission. Jennifer is a person of utter integrity, one willing to
speak her mind for the sake of the higher good, even risking unpopularity if necessary.
She has been responsible for helping instill a sense of community not only in the
History Department but at the University, all the result of her commitment to Jesuit
- Joanne Salas, senior biostatistician in the Department of Family and Community Medicine
– "Joanne always goes above and beyond expectations by learning new biostatistical
methods to support her team’s research. She does not simply generate results, but
she ensures researchers understand the logic of her decisions and helps others express
the technical aspects of advanced data analysis in their scholarly presentations and
papers. Joanne’s commitment to the Ignatian ideals of learning, serving, generosity,
respect and concern for others has greatly increased morale and a sense of common
purpose in the Department of Family and Community Medicine."
- Leah Sweetman, assistant director for the Center for Service and Community Engagement –
"At a University that prides itself for service and volunteerism, Leah is the sole
service-learning coordinator for faculty on the entire campus. Leah works collaboratively
with SLU’s faculty, staff and students, as well as with stakeholders in the greater
St. Louis area, in developing programs and events supporting social change and justice
initiatives. In addition to many leadership roles in support of the University mission,
Leah also participates frequently in professional development opportunities to enrich
her own understanding of SLU’s Jesuit identity."