Engineering staffer to receive Candace J. Johnson award


Candy Ellis, unit administrator for the Department of Industrial & Operations Engineering, College of Engineering, has been selected to receive the 10th annual Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence.

Ellis will receive the award at a reception from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday in the Lurie Engineering Center Johnson Rooms.

Candy Ellis

In nomination letters, those who work with Ellis spoke of how she demonstrates strong work qualities, such as initiative, dependability and commitment.

“Candy is, simply put, an outstanding employee and a key member of the IOE community,” said Mark Daskin, Clyde W. Johnson Collegiate Professor of Industrial & Operations Engineering and department chair for IOE. “She is the glue that holds the faculty and staff together.”

“Candy has a breadth of knowledge spanning all areas of the department,” said Brian Denton, associate professor of industrial and operations engineering. “She is extremely proactive, organized and committed to excellence in her own work, as well as creating an environment for her staff that promotes excellence.”

Many of Ellis’ colleagues said she encourages others to collaborate and strive for excellence in all aspects of work.

“Candy uses imagination and initiative to make mundane tasks interesting and even fun,” said Tina Picano Blay, administrative assistant senior at IOE.

“She is an excellent role model for others … dependable, proactive, knowledgeable,” said Jon Lee, G. Lawton and Louise G. Johnson Professor of Engineering and professor of industrial and operations engineering.

IOE Administrative Assistant Leslei Cypert considers Ellis a mentor.

“Instead of being a micromanager, Candy gave me ownership as she explained the various expectations,” Cypert said. “She also did it with a great sense of humor and patience as we would go through the procedures manual. Her door and heart were always open to anyone that needed her help or guidance.”

“Candy is excellent at recognizing people’s strengths and helping them to excel in those areas — taking on new challenges for personal growth and personal satisfaction,” said Amy Cohn, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, associate professor of industrial and operations engineering, and associate professor of health management and policy, School of Public Health. “She works hard to be sure that the people working for and around her have the opportunity to shine.”

Ellis also shows a willingness to help others, and often makes an extra effort to take on additional responsibilities.

“Candy never backs down from a request for help or guidance,” Cypert said.

“Operationally, the department now runs more smoothly than anyone can remember,” said Lawrence Seiford, co-director of Tauber Institute, professor of industrial and operations engineering, director of academic programs, CoE, and former chair of the department. “Processes, procedures, etc. have all improved yet she continues to identify new tasks to take on.”

Ellis exemplifies the award by making a difference in the lives of others by displaying a positive outlook and strong compassion, colleagues say.

“Candy is a pleasure to work with,” Denton said. “Even though she has a great amount of responsibility and a lot of work to do, she is consistently available to help on short notice. … She has a great attitude.”

“Candy is always professional and respectful of people’s time and of their circumstances,” Cypert said. “As long as I have known Candy, I have never seen her overreact to be condescending. She is the epitome of grace.”

The Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence was established in 2004 as a memorial to Johnson, a staff member from the Office of the Provost who died in 2003. The Provost’s Office created the award to recognize staff members on campus who, like Johnson, have a positive influence in the workplace through their professionalism and personality.



  1. Suzanne Taylor
    on January 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Candy, I don’t know if you remember me but I was the Dept. Mgr. at NA&ME until I retired in July of 2011. Re your Award . . . I can’t think of a better recipient of the Candace Johnson Award than YOU. I worked with Candace when I was employed at the School of Education. Although the circumstances under which I knew her were difficult, Candace (as a representative of the President’s Office) was pivotal in making a bad situation workable. She was an incredible person. And so are you. Congratulations!

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