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Sheila Bannister-Gross – Carolyn Rolfson Sargis Award

July 22, 2022
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Sheila Bannister-Gross has spent more than 37 years with the Continuing Education (CE) program at UW-Stevens Point, helping people “grow and go,” she said.

Sheila Bannister-Gross
Sheila Bannister-Gross won the 2022 Carolyn Rolfson Sargis Award.

“I’ve been involved in every aspect of that process,” she said. “That is what Continuing Education is about. Continually educating, continually growing, continually building relationships. That has always been a value in my life.”

Her dedication to the university and those who have benefited through Continuing Education earned her the 2022 Carolyn Rolfson Sargis Award. The honor is given annually to a university staff member to recognize notable accomplishments throughout a 20-plus-year career.

“Sheila is a beloved member of the UW-Stevens Point community and beyond,” said Susan Barrett, CE program manager. “An outstanding example of all UWSP stands for on and off campus, she has acted as an exceptional liaison to the wider community on countless occasions and supports every member of the Continuing Education team.”

Sheila began working in Continuing Education in 1985, first offering support to programs that served inmates at the Oxford Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wis.

“I loved doing that…giving people a chance,” she said. She credits her parents for telling her to never turn people away. “You never know who is the angel at the door. You should take everyone as they are and try to help them if you can – you try to find a way to make them better.”

Her work in CE also included helping the College of Menominee Nation earn accreditation, assisting with credit and non-credit programming and the Learning is Forever program and serving as interim program manager. She also worked in the CE conferences unit on event coordination and was the resources manager.

Her nomination for the Sargis Award garnered her 22 letters of support. Among those recommending her were co-workers, campus administrators and professionals from across the state.

“Sheila is a shining star for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point,” said Don Wadewitz, a section manager with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services who worked closely with her on several conferences. “I always know that when I look at Sheila, I’m going to get a smile and a positive attitude that puts me and others at ease. Her support is why they continue to use UWSP Continuing Education for conference planning, he said.

When she learned she had won the prestigious Sargis Award, Sheila said she felt like she was truly a part of the university where she has worked for so many years.

According to Barrett, Sheila truly embodies the spirit of the Sargis Award, which honors those working behind-the- scenes to keep the university running.

“Sheila embodies the notion that we should all work together to accomplish the goals we set forward,” said Barrett. “All jobs are important and should be taken seriously. Sheila consistently takes notice of the personnel that are behind-the-scenes, quietly and attentively, taking time and energy to notice their commitment to their job. She epitomizes the concept of servant leadership.”