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Staff Spotlights, 2018-19

Each month, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences shares tributes to staff and how their efforts make a difference across our many departments, programs and centers.


Ally Smith, Office Manager, Departments of Atmospheric Science, Environmental Studies, Geography and Geology

Ally Smith

Promoted from administrative assistant to office manager at the start of Fall 2018, Ally has been handling both the duties of her new role and her old as the department searches for an administrative assistant. She’s also been handling the administrative assistant tasks for the Department of Geology after their administrative assistant took a different position at KU. “She's doing three people's duties, is able to delegate where needed, takes care of four units, and maintains a huge smile on her face,” said facility coordinator Ramia Whitecotton. “She's a light to this side of campus and we are the luckiest people on campus to have her leading the Lindley Hall Welcome Center staff and being the right hand woman to our chairs and directors.”


Susan Teague, Business Manager, Department of Chemistry

Susan Teague

With 40 years serving the Department of Chemistry and its students, Business Manager Susan Teague has more than earned her place in the staff spotlight. “Susan goes out of her way to make sure things move smoothly in the department,” said graduate student and ChemGSO President Ezekiel Piskulich. “She has worked closely with the Chemistry Graduate Student Organization to support its events and takes an active role in the leadership of the department for events such as the holiday party and Graduate Student Recruitment Weekend. I believe that Susan is a leader in the Department of Chemistry and am personally thankful for the support she has given ChemGSO over the years.”


Lauren Chaney, Graduate Academic Advisor Senior, College Office of Graduate Affairs

Lauren Chaney

In her two and a half years on the job serving as a Graduate Academic Advisor to African & African American Studies, American Studies, History of Art, Indigenous Studies, and Museum Studies, Lauren Chaney has made her mark. Lauren has helped to streamline processes involved with admissions and advising for Indigenous Studies and Museum Studies, update out-of-date handbooks, clean up websites, and more. “She dives into projects proactively when she sees a more efficient or effective way to doing things, and she does so with a smile,” said Brandy Ernzen, program coordinator for Indigenous Studies and Museum Studies. “Lauren meets with current students regularly, as well as prospective students visiting campus, and is someone who is seen as more than an academic advisor. She is a wonderful ambassador for KU and our programs. We definitely run much smoother with Lauren here!”


Nicole Reiz, Graduate Professional Development Coordinator, College Office of Graduate Affairs

Nicole Reiz

As the College's first professional development coordinator, Nicole has helped expand the College's support of graduate students as they make the transition from student to professional. Nicole has created the College's professional development website as well as other resources for students. "Nicole has gone above and beyond for hundreds of graduate students and their professional development," said Casey Keel, graduate teaching and communications assistant for the Department of English. "She organizes events that provide graduate students with the opportunity to network with Ph.D. graduates that are not employed in higher education. Nicole has had such a significant influence on me as a person and as a professional."

Kristine Latta, Director of College Office of Graduate Affairs, adds, "Nicole has accomplished so much in such a short time, developing a range of programming and offering one-on-one support to students across the College. She is truly committed to working with students to help them explore and prepare for a range of careers."


Sarah Thomas, administrative assistant, Department of Visual Art

Sarah Thomas

Visual Art has experienced a tumultuous year, but Sarah has provided a steady hand in navigating through two flooded facilities, a tragic faculty death and challenges within the department’s complex scholarship awarding process. She helped shape thoughtful responses to each of these needs and challenges, and she was present and accountable in offering creative action and solutions, even in the face of her busy life as a part-time, degree-seeking student. “As a new chair, I've greatly relied on Sarah for institutional memory and for feedback on my newly forming approach to being chair,” said Chair of Visual Art Matthew Burke. “Sarah is perennially dependable and treats all staff, students and faculty with respect and compassion.”