Jon Donze, director of the Office of Grants and Contracts and Joyce Helton, department assistant in the Office of Faculty Affairs, have received the President’s Award for Distinguished Service, one of the most notable honors bestowed upon university staff members. Recommended by the Staff Advisory Council and approved by the university president, the winners of these awards are selected for the transformational impact their work has to the CWRU community.
Each year, up to three honorees are selected for the award, which comes with a $1,000 cash award.
Director, Office of Grants and Contracts
School of Medicine
Jon Donze’s work is critical to the School of Medicine’s research endeavors. A former researcher himself, Donze now manages all of the grants that support more than $400 million in research in the medical school.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve, Donze remained at the institution to begin his research career in a laboratory where he spent nine years researching DNA repair. Earning a Master of Business Administration degree from Weatherhead School of Management spurred a move from the lab to research administration. He filled various positions before being named to his current role in January.
When recommending Donze for this award, his nominator shared: “In every project, issue, and problem Jon is involved in, he never displays anything but integrity, honesty (most important, in his current position), and excellent critical thinking skills.”
Donze has been instrumental in ensuring that the office efficiently meets grant deadlines with decreased staff—from five to eight—which occurred with shifts in the job market during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I endeavor to request that this humble, kind and knowledgeable CWRU staff member be recognized for keeping the tent poles up despite a very heavy tent canvas,” wrote his nominator.
Department Assistant, Office of Faculty Affairs
School of Medicine
Joyce Helton’s smile and welcoming presence in the Office of Faculty Affairs at the School of Medicine sets a tone that makes everyone feel at home. In her role as a department assistant, Helton serves as the initial point of contact for the more than 8,900 full- and part-time faculty members at the school—and she has been characterized as the friendliest person you will ever meet.
“Joyce continues to lead by example and be an effective steward of our office, keeping everyone on track, recognizing everyone for their accomplishments, supporting them in their struggles, and overall bringing joy to the office,” said her nominator.
Helton works tirelessly, is flexible, and wears many hats, which often requires her to take on responsibilities outside her job description when the office experiences a gap in coverage. Even when she doesn’t know the answer to one of the many complex questions that come her way, her dedication to being as helpful as possible drives her to find someone who does.
Her nominator added: “Not only is she kind, but she is thoughtful and brings fun and entertainment to the office with her witty banter and jokes.”