- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Hack won an award in the highly competitive Individual Service Award category, announced Lauren Thomas and Darolyn Striley, co-chairs of the Staff Assembly's Citations of Excellence Committee.
Lisa Papagni, assistant director of Student Housing and Dining Services, won the Individual Service Award in the campuswide competition. Hack, a student academic advisor II, received an honorable mention along with Jaqueline Dyson, administrative assistant III in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
The annual Citation for Excellence Program singles out outstanding staff for their exemplary work in one of four areas: innovation, research, supervision and service. They all receive monetary prizes and certificates.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter will present the awards to seven individuals and four teams. All are nominated confidentially. Also celebrated at the invitation-only event will be winners of staff scholarships and staff dependent scholarships.
Three affiliates of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology nominated Hack for the award: forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, master advisor for the animal biology major; chief administrative officer Nora Orozco, her supervisor; and communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey.
They wrote that Hack, a 17-year academic advisor at UC Davis, goes above and beyond to advocate for and mentor students. Hack empathizes with the needs of others, an empathy honed by her own life experiences and the desire to “pay it forward.” As a youth--the daughter of farmworkers--she toiled in agricultural fields in Dixon, picking bell peppers and sorting tomatoes. And as a single parent/high school dropout, she cleaned houses for a living. Her life took a sharp career turn when two of her clients, a UC Davis professor and his wife, encouraged her to finish high school and attend business college. They loaned her money for an electric typewriter. Ever since then, Hack, the beneficiary of a good deed never forgotten, has vowed to “pay it forward”--to help others as others have helped her.
Kimsey, the master faculty advisor of the animal biology program, says “Elvira is likely the best academic advisor ever. Not only is she completely conversant with all the rules and regulations of the major, but understands the latitude of flexibility built into their application in a very human way. She is connected with all the administrative functionaries necessary to efficiently accomplish any task in a timely manner. For the confused or troubled student, she is the first and last resort for the solution of problems not only of an academic or administrative kind but those of a deeply personal nature as well. She keeps them on track, outlining their options, helping them decide on their future professions, and the direction their life should take. She has been invaluable to me as the master advisor. She really does care about a student's fate. Moreover we have had great fun doing these tasks together.”
Orozco related that Hack creates a welcoming environment, meeting individually with students to help them through the many hurdles at UC Davis. She is warm, caring and compassionate, she wrote. When a student comes in with serious issues, Hack calms them, encouraging them to be the best you can. She tells them: “If you are doing the best you can, you're doing great.”
Hack “provides resources to help them,” her nominators wrote. If they're feeling depressed, she will encourage them with “Look at everything you've accomplished!”
Her students describe her as kind, generous, trustworthy and helpful. They seek assistance on issues ranging from homesickness, roommate discord, financial strife and food insecurities, to sexual assault, domestic abuse and suicidal thoughts.
“During my first quarter as a transfer student, I went through some extreme life changes and emotional rollercoasters,” wrote one student. “I would end up in her office crying my eyes out and in distraught, but she always calmed me down and helped me reach out for other help to get me through my rough patch.”
Another student described Hack “as by far the most helpful, kind and encouraging adviser I have met at UC Davis. Being a first generation college student, I require extra help in understanding and executing graduation requirements and other criteria for my future career goals.”
Elvira Galvan Hack was hired in October 2007 as the new undergraduate staff advisor for the animal biology major, then located in the Department of Nematology. "In 2007 we were the Department of Plant Pathology and Nematology," Hack recalled, "and Professor Ed Lewis (now with the University of Idaho) was the master advisor. Plant Pathology and Nematology had never had an undergraduate major--only graduate programs."
"In 2007 when I was hired, I was given the opportunity to start our undergraduate advising office from scratch," she said. "I worked on putting procedures together for our new advising practices. I contacted students and we put a new list serve together. I contacted each of our students and introduced myself, letting them know where their new advising office was located." She engaged in "one-on-one advising with each of our students in order to get to know them and to get information on how we as a department, and I as their advisor, could serve them better."
Hack held an open house in the winter and spring quarters. She designed an information seminar about the major requirements; explained academic planning changes; and redesigned the order in which they should take classes to enable them to complete their degree in the standard time.
The awards ceremony also will honor four other individual winners of Citation for Excellence awards:
Innovation: Laura Young, student affairs officer, Graduate Studies
Honorable Mention: Shawn DeArmond, web architect, Information and Educational Technology (IET) Enterprise Applications and Infrastructure Services
Research: Jennie Konsella-Norene, assistant director of Global Professional Programs, Global Affairs
Supervision: Bradley Harding, interim director of Enterprise Student Applications, IET Enterprise Student Applications
Winners of the four team awards—all equal winners—are Veteran Self-Identification Campaign Working Group; Dairy Teaching and Research Staff Team; Financial Aid and Scholarships Information Technology (IT) Team; and UC Davis Library Human Library Committee Services (See list of team members)