UA Little Rock Honors Weigel, Loftus, Willis with 2022 Staff Achievement Awards

UA Little Rock Staff Senate has honored three of the university’s outstanding staff members for excellence in the areas of service to the university, personal growth, and community service.

UA Little Rock Staff Senate has honored three of the university’s outstanding staff members for excellence in the areas of service to the university, personal growth, and community service.

“The three staff members who won these awards represent staff dedication and commitment to our institution and our community,” said Ross Bradley, president-elect of Staff Senate and web and provost office manager. “Their contributions have benefited faculty, students, fellow staff, and our community members in countless ways. Without staff contributions like the ones highlighted in these three staff members, it would be impossible for the institution to meet its goals.”

Melody Weigel, admissions and records specialist for the William H. Bowen School of Law, has received the Ben Fry Service to UA Little Rock Award. The award recipient is described to be an individual who is distinctive in service through committees, special events, implementation of creative ideas or support and encouragement of others.

Additionally, Ashi Loftus, user interface and user experience designer for the Office of Communications and Marketing, has received the Personal Growth Award. The award winner is described as an individual whose scholarship, research, or creative talent has been particularly outstanding.

Jacqueline Willis, administrative specialist III for the Department of Chemistry, has received the Service to the Community Award. This award recipient is described as an individual who has been particularly successful in organizing community events or had major achievements in civic, service, or specialty organizations/events.

The three winners will receive a $3,000 award distributed via payroll distributions.

More information about the Staff Achievement Award winners:

Ben Fry Service to UA Little Rock Award

Ever since Weigel joined UA Little Rock in 2016, she has been dedicated to promoting and advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Since 2017, Weigel has served as advisor of the OutLaw Legal Society at the Bowen School of Law, whose mission includes promoting diversity, raising awareness of legal issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, and maintaining an open atmosphere of respect, equality, and justice for all.

The OutLaw Legal Society has grown into an influential student organization that has helped attract students who support the local LGBTQ+ community. Since 2016, LGBTQ+ enrollment has increased nearly 60 percent at the Bowen School of Law.

Last year, Weigel joined the UA Little Rock Safe Zone Committee, which is committed to improving the overall campus climate for LGBTQ+ individuals. She advocated for the inclusion of students to Safe Zone, and there are now two trained student members.

“Melody looks to champion the success of each project large and small,” said Ashley Nipp, an accountant for the Office of Alumni and Development. “Managing the work of exceptional campus and community student leaders is a time commitment. Melody’s office is more than a safe zone for law school students. She is the default mentor to many law school students who use her office as a place to share their concerns, celebrate their victories, or learn of new campus resources.”

An active staff leader, Weigel has also served for four years on the Staff Senate, including president-elect, president, and past president.

Staff Achievement Award for Personal Growth

While a dedicated member of the Communications and Marketing team, Loftus is also committed to completing her education and to learn new skills to excel at her career. During the fall 2021 semester, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Web Design and Development and a minor in information technology. In addition to her graduation, she also married Liz Loftus in November 2021.

Her educational aspirations are far from over. Loftus also plans to graduate from UA Little Rock a second time in 2023 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, a minor in digital graphics, a minor in art history, and a graphic design technical certificate

Once she has completed her undergraduate education, Loftus plans to enter a graduate program to earn either a Master of Arts in Art History or a Master of Fine Arts. Her ultimate goal is to become a college professor and give back to college students like the many professors who have inspired her at UA Little Rock. She gets plenty of practice as a future professor by giving presentations every year to design and development classes at UA Little Rock and National Park College.

In her professional role, Loftus is highly involved in the redesign and relaunch of UA Little Rock’s website, a project that will last at least three years. She is currently using her user experience design skills to improve the overall usability and functionality of the website.

“In the past few years, I’ve really seen Ashi grow both professionally and personally,” said Meaghan Milliorn, Loftus’ supervisor and director of digital strategy. “She recently completed her degree and is working on a second one. She has been able to successfully juggle her classes while working full-time as a UI/UX designer on the university web team. Ashi has created countless noteworthy designs that support our digital marketing efforts and her dedication to web accessibility and inclusion is essential as we work to create a better online experience. Ashi is an excellent example of how a degree can change your life and strengthen your career.”

While at UA Little Rock, Ashi has been a member of the UA Little Rock Safe Zone Committee since 2017. She also served as a committee co-chair of the Safety, Equity, and Inclusion Committee as well as an accessibility coordinator for the Accessibility Summit Committee and the HighEdWeb Conference Committee.

Staff Achievement Award for Community Service

Jacqueline Willis is a longtime UA Little Rock staff member who has worked at the university since 1995. She started off her career as an administrative assistant in the Department of Biology and has also worked as the higher educational institutional program coordinator for the former College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences (CALS).

“Jackie joined the Chemistry department around two years ago,” said Dr. Anindya Ghosh, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “In a short period, with her vast experiences, caring attitude, and strong work ethic, she has become a vital part of the Chemistry family. Chemistry faculty and students are surely thankful to her.”

Dr. Shanzhi Wang, assistant professor of chemistry, described Willis as someone who is always willing to help someone with any project. When both the biology and chemistry departments needed administrative assistance in 2019, Willis volunteered to help out both departments while she was already working in the CALS dean’s office. She also assisted the biology department with administrative work when the need arose again in 2021.

“Ms. Willis’s service has significantly benefited the chemistry department and UA Little Rock in recruitment, faculty, and student success.

Willis has also been highly involved in service to Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Christway Missionary Baptist Church, and the UA Little Rock Staff Senate.

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