Pillars of Excellence Award

Congratulations, 2024 Models of Excellence Honorees

The University is pleased to announce the Models of Excellence Program honorees for 2024. This year 52 staff members received recognition across the three award categories.

Introduced in 2014, the Pillars of Excellence Award recognizes the strong foundation and important contributions of our staff in support roles. These staff members are pillars of the institution.

Our pillars are responsible for overseeing activities that keep our environment safe and operational for Penn’s faculty, staff, and students. They provide administrative support to organizations and individuals in executing day-to-day activities. They also provide important infrastructure services, such as: maintaining facilities and outdoor spaces; overseeing our mail, our parking areas, and our safety; and providing housekeeping and dining services. These staff members support key internal and external constituencies every day. They create the foundation that helps keep the University operating successfully and smoothly, meeting the goals of the University’s mission and contributing to Penn’s prestige.

Standards of Excellence

These behaviors reflect the University’s standards for a Pillar of Excellence and are used by the Selection Committee to identify individuals who qualify for this award:


  • Demonstrate continuous excellence in their role or make a valuable one-time contribution to the mission of their department or the University
  • Provide exemplary customer service
  • Exhibit exceptional resourcefulness, innovation, or creativity to overcome challenges
  • Improve processes to save time or money
  • Contribute to a positive and collaborative work environment

2024 Pillars of Excellence

Bill Dickson, Facilities and Real Estate Services

Bill Dickson, Custodian in Facilities and Real Estate Services has been a dedicated member of the housekeeping team for 35 years. He has consistently committed to innovation and improvement and has taken a lead role in developing the Enhanced Housekeeping Program and assisted in creating Sustainability training. William has also been a dynamic presence in assisting his team members with everything from rides to work and information on the Penn Commuter Program to supporting his co-workers with Workday.

Mary Marcopul, School of Arts and Sciences

Mary Marcopul, Lecturer Demonstration Coordinator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has increased the academic support in the department, expanded the reach and scope of the lecture demonstrations, and championed the introduction of modern and inclusive pedagogical practices. Mary is a mentor and a vocal proponent of women and other underrepresented groups in physics and astronomy.

Leslie Vallhonrat, University Library

Leslie Vallhonrat, Web Developer and Designer for the Penn Libraries, shows a deep commitment to advocating for accessibility as a means towards inclusion and equitability in institutions of higher learning. She developed the Libraries-wide Accessibility Ambassadors program, coordinated time-sensitive website updates to relocate 1.5 million Van Pelt Library books, and contributed to the facilitation of the libraries’ daily operations, supporting dozens of staff members and thousands of online visitors.

Janell Wiseley, Development and Alumni Relations

Janell Wiseley, Program Coordinator for Penn Alumni Lifelong Learning in Alumni Relations, is the ultimate example of what it means to be a colleague -- generous with her expertise and time, kind, thoughtful, and encouraging. She exemplifies effectiveness, efficiency, and continuous improvement in all she does.


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