Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm so proud of my Dad!

Six academic professionals will receive the 2008 Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence award at an April 3 reception. Now in its 20th year, the program aims to honor contributions made by academic professionals on campus. Recipients are chosen for excellence in their work, personal and professional contributions to their fields, and the positive impact they have on colleagues, students and the public. Each award winner receives $2,000, a $1,000 increase in base salary and a $1,000 one-time budget increase for their department.

Keith Erickson, manager of utility distribution in the University Office for Facilities Planning and Programs, has worked tirelessly over the past 28 years to ensure uninterrupted utility service is provided to the campus, said Mike Larson, interim director of utilities.

“In the event of a power outage, Keith is usually the first person contacted, the first person to respond and the first person to get started on the development of a solution,” Larson said. “Keith has developed relationships with both university employees and contractors that allow him to quickly identify who can best help in any given scenario and employ their services immediately. In the utility business, timing is critical, and Keith’s development of this support network make him extremely valuable when troubleshooting some of the very unique problems that are presented.”

Because the utility business is a 24-7 responsibility, Erickson is always on call. “When issues arise, they must be dealt with immediately no matter what the time or the circumstances,” Larson said. “Keith has been called out of bed, called away from dinner, even called when on vacation and has always responded. He does not do this for the publicity or reward, because at 3 a.m. on a Saturday there is usually no one around to even notice. He does it because he takes his job and responsibility to the university very seriously.”

“The utility business on campus does not directly advance the primary mission of the university as it relates to teaching, research and public service, but the support they provide is critical for the departments that do directly advance the primary mission,” Larson said. “Keith understands his role in support of this mission.”

2008 Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence

Erickson has worked at the UI since 1979, starting as an electrical engineer for Facilities and Services. He has worked in his current position since 2003.

Erickson also provided the leadership and technical insight to bring the University Electric Distribution project to a successful end, according to Lyle D. Wachtel, associate vice president for the University Office for Facilities Planning and Programs. “Keith embraced the forward-looking concepts and established the personal ownership required to guarantee a successful outcome.”

Erickson also is an ambassador for the campus. He lectures to groups of engineers visiting the campus and is involved with the mechanical science and engineering department’s program for undergraduate students. In addition, he regularly hosts tours of campus utilities and utility infrastructure for classes on campus to help provide real-world examples of what they are learning in the classroom.
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