Staff member brainstorms recognized with cash prizes

Shared Practices Awards lead to new efficiencies across CU system
By Staff

Employee creativity and innovation were recognized and rewarded at the second annual CU Shared Practices (CUSP) Awards Presentation, held Nov. 1 at 1800 Grant St., Denver.

Contenders, many working in teams, represented all University of Colorado campuses. They submitted ideas for innovative work processes through CUSP, the university’s best practices initiative. After an idea is successfully reviewed and vetted, it is published on the shared practices website. All submissions are then judged by the campus controllers, who currently form the voting body for the awards.

With six very worthy submissions in 2012, the votes were very close, but in the end, the submissions were ranked as follows:

Taking first place, and splitting a $2,000 cash prize, were Bryn Quintana of CU Denver and Melissa Wait of CU-Boulder, who worked together to create a secure electronic system for storing receipts and conducting monthly expense reconciliations. The system not only cut paper and printing costs for their department, but also significantly reduced the amount of time needed to complete expense reconciliations and file/locate the associated records.

A team of four from the Procurement Service Center (Charlene Lydick, Michael Fox, Will James and Duane Tucker) were awarded second place, splitting a cash prize of $1,500, for their responsiveness and initiative in putting together a task force to consolidate campus purchases of “green” cleaning and paper supplies. Upon learning that facilities management from the various campuses were looking for guidance in purchasing these products, the PSC team identified the stakeholders and brought them all together in a unique way  to review RFPs, test the products and work together to choose a single supplier, thereby saving the university an estimated $400,000 over the first 15 months of implementation.

A customer service training presentation created by Susan Szpyrka, Tamara Moore and Gary Reynolds from UCCS garnered third place honors, and a cash prize of $1,000, as well as some very favorable attention from other departments, who have asked the team to present the training to org units on the Boulder and Denver campuses, and various system administration offices.

CPE for CPAs (Continuing Professional Education for Certified Public Accountants) brought fourth place honors (and a $500 award) to Lisa Vallad, Travis Chillemi and Normandy Roden from the Office of University Controller. Inspired by the vision of a university officer, this team developed a roster of courses, accredited by the National Association for the State Boards of Accountancy, which allow participating university employees with CPA licenses to obtain the professional development credits needed to maintain their licenses. These courses, many of which are specifically tailored to the university's business and finance processes, are available at no cost to all CU employees.

Also receiving recognition for their submissions were Jill Rogers from the School of Pharmacy on the Anschutz Medical Campus, who submitted a sponsored project checklist, and a team consisting of Treasurer’s office employees (Joe Tinucci and Alexis Kelly), along with UIS (Sean Myers) and information security (Chirag Joshi) professionals whose combined efforts led to the development of a Web-based security assessment process required for all university departments working with credit card merchants.

For more information on CU Shared Practices, including changes to the 2013 CUSP program that kicks off Jan. 1, go to: and submit your ideas.