CU Innovation and Efficiency Awards: A winning orientation

Launch of mobile app at UCCS among efforts honored at expo
By Staff

CU Innovation and Efficiency Awards: A winning orientation

Employee-designed improvements in a variety of areas – business, finance, environmental, research, and humanitarian – inspired attendees at the annual CU Innovation and Efficiency Awards Expo.

The 2019 program’s 10 finalists showcased their diverse, wide-ranging array of submissions May 7 at 1800 Grant St.

Developing the UCCS Mobile Orientation App took first place and the $1,500 University Controller’s Award for Excellence. Hailey Santonastaso, UCCS orientation program coordinator, and Nick Lockwood, director of orientation and new student outreach, noticed that new students were heavily reliant on their phones, and deduced that a mobile app might be a more accessible way to guide new students through the orientation process. Their experiment proved quite successful, both for the students and for Hailey and Nick.

Other award-winning submissions were:

Commercial Paper to Fund Construction Projects – Treasurer Dan Wilson, Associate Treasurer Charles Cook and Associate Director of Treasury Michelle Travis reduced the dollar amount and cost of CU’s long-term borrowings by taking advantage of lower-interest commercial paper to finance the initial phases of construction. They estimate that this use of commercial paper has reduced overall borrowing by $5 million to $8 million per $100 million borrowed for university capital construction projects.

Advancing Scholarship Through an In-House Research Support Center – With financial support from Douglas Novins, director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, employees of the Department of Psychiatry – including Merlin Ariefdjohan, Emmaly Perks and Melissa Sinclair – improved morale and promoted the research efforts of early career clinical faculty by establishing an in-house research support center dedicated to assisting with research design, development and coordination for these overburdened faculty/clinicians.

CU Non-Employee Reimbursements – A collaborative effort among employees from the Office of University Controller, UIS and the Procurement Service Center (Cal Anderson, Linda Warren, Adam Rodriguez and Jaime Mendez) resulted in an automated process for reimbursing non-employees that significantly reduced paperwork, processing time and administrative burden.

Autoclave Program for Managing Biohazardous Waste – Past CU Innovation and Efficiency winners Denise Donnelly and Mark Garcia from the CU Denver biological waste management team continued their award-winning efforts at improving sustainability and reducing costs with their new program for treating biohazardous waste using existing campus autoclaves.

Five other groups or individuals with meritorious submissions made it to the finals and received recognition at the expo this year. They were:

Nick Lockwood, Greg Williams and Koroush Iranpanah of UCCS, who conducted a thorough analysis of available technology to find the perfect tool (Chromebooks) to speed up the student registration and orientation process on campus, resulting in time saved for students and staff, as well as significant cost reductions all-around.

UCCS Wellness Center employees Melissa Kuykendall and Chrissie Bailey, who employed a new software (Medicat) system to simplify and expedite the process for collecting and loading student immunization records into the campus medical systems.

System employees Cal Anderson, Linda Warren, Brad Rieke and CU Denver asset accountant Tom Johnston, who combined efforts to develop a previously unused PeopleSoft module into a centralized asset inventory management system that all CU campuses can use to record and track capital assets.

CU Denver research assistant Coby Wikselaar, program assistant Kelly Stritzinger and Tony Robinson, chair of the CU Denver political science department, who conceived of the much-admired Student Hunger and Homelessness Initiative, which raises awareness of homelessness and hunger on the Auraria Campus and works to alleviate those issues.

Mariana Vieira, a laboratory coordinator on the CU Boulder campus, who created a “green darkroom” by identifying and purchasing more environmentally friendly chemicals and taking meaningful steps to reduce water usage in the Visual Arts Complex photography lab.

The display of creativity and ingenuity at this year’s expo was truly impressive, and it was exciting to be a part of it all. Kudos go out to all 10 finalists and to the other 10 teams or individuals who submitted ideas in the 2019 program year. We appreciate your participation, we admire your dedication and we thank you all for making CU a better place to work and study.

If you couldn’t make the expo, we invite you to share in the inspiration by viewing all of our 2019 submissions at .

We hope to hear from you next year!

  • Submitted by Fran Chapman, Office of University Controller