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By University Communications, Thursday, April 25th, 2024

Massey Award winners 2024 portraits on a blue backgroud: Linc Butler; Khin Su Su Kyi; Robin Lee; Summer Montgomery; Desirée Rieckenberg; Nicholas Siedentop

Six Carolina employees will receive the 2024 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Awards, one of the most prestigious distinctions for faculty and staff. One employee will also be honored posthumously.

Established in 1980 by the late C. Knox Massey ’25, the awards recognize “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions” by University employees. The awards will be presented at a luncheon April 27.

“Our extraordinary employees are at the heart of Carolina’s excellence,” said Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts. “Each year, the Massey Awards highlight the remarkable and superior ways our employees contribute to our community, and the seven individuals being recognized this year are superb examples. Their hard work and dedication truly stand out. I’m honored to celebrate and acknowledge all they do for our great University.”

The winners, selected through a campus-wide nomination process, each receive a $10,000 stipend and award citation.

This year’s recipients are:

Linc Butler, associate vice chancellor, Human Resources

Butler, who came to Carolina in 1997, developed a deep knowledge of HR policies and is a go-to person for many colleagues. He served on the University’s Emergency Response Team, leads the inclement weather policy and sits on countless UNC System task forces in support of improved efficiency. Beyond Carolina, Butler also assisted other campuses in the UNC System. More than one colleague appreciated “his willingness to roll up his sleeves and inspire positive change that motivates others, and thus makes the University a better place.”

Khin Su Su Kyi, housekeeper, Facilities Services

Kyi keeps all 10 floors and 343,000 square feet of Marsico Hall in tiptop shape. She’s worked in the medical research building since it opened, taking care of the lobby and coffee shop, cleaning restrooms, mopping up spills and washing windows. Kyi was instrumental in addressing pipe issues in December 2022 and cleaning up after a fire in March 2023. Nominators celebrated Kyi, a single mother and refugee from Myanmar who came to the United States speaking limited English, for her generous optimism, extraordinary work ethic and resilient spirit.

Robin Lee, housekeeper, Facilities Services

Lee is the reason that Kenan Residence Hall isn’t just a building to live in for 120 Carolina students but their home. Lee, or Miss Robin to the students, arrives at 7 a.m. each day and begins cleaning before the residents are awake. Nominators celebrated Lee’s willingness to go above and beyond while being cognizant of safety, accessibility and comfort for all students. She’s been instrumental in advocating for higher wages for Carolina’s housekeepers. Lee greets everyone with a smile and does everything she can to make students feel at home.

Summer Montgomery, student services manager, College of Arts and Sciences’ biology department

Montgomery, who’s worked at Carolina for nearly 30 years, oversees logistics like registrations, class schedules, classrooms, applications and safety approvals for the University’s largest major. Colleagues call her organized, attentive and able to head off crises before they happen. She played a pivotal role in handling operations through the pandemic and the rollout of the biology department’s new undergraduate curriculum. Montgomery elevated the Koeppe Biology Honors Symposium by making it a weeklong celebration and has managed the department’s commencement ceremony since 2011.

Desirée Rieckenberg, dean of students, Student Affairs

Rieckenberg’s work means she’s as likely to get a call at 3 a.m. as 3 p.m. concerning a student health or safety issue. She’s at the forefront of responding to some of the most difficult situations, including mental health crises, natural disasters or housing and food insecurity issues. Rieckenberg was the visionary behind the creation of the CARE team, a group that meets weekly to review cases of students experiencing distress or challenges that threaten their academic progress. She also led the creation of the University Approved-Absence Office, was a “relentless champion” of the Carolina Veterans’ Resource Center and partnered with the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid to hire the University’s first director of financial well-being.

Nicholas Siedentop, curriculum director, College of Arts and Sciences

Siedentop’s work may “be invisible to the wider university community,” but it has a huge impact on every undergraduate seeking a degree at Carolina. He oversees efforts to modernize and digitize the University’s curriculum processes, including the introduction of the online undergraduate catalog, academic policies and review of all aspects of Carolina’s majors and minors. Siedentop helped plan and implement the IDEAS in Action curriculum, the Transfer Course Re-Evaluation System and Curriculum Inventory Manager. Nominators noted his “unwavering integrity” and called him a “valued and trusted colleague and a wonderful supervisor and leader.”

Elizabeth Williams (posthumous winner), executive assistant, Office of the Chancellor

Williams was a “keeper of light and joy” in South Building before her sudden passing in November. Her tenure at Carolina began after a career in banking, raising her children and serving as guardian ad litem to many more children. Before serving as executive assistant to Chancellors Carol Folt and Kevin Guskiewicz, Williams worked in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Morehead-Cain Foundation as an admissions essay reader. Colleagues noted how she treated everyone with respect, created an environment where you felt valued and could balance a calendar like an expert Tetris player. To many, “she was truly the heart of the University.”

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