Valerie Dratwick, Wayne North and Jason Wagstaff receive UMSL Hero Awards

May 2022 Hero Award honorees Valerie Dratwick, Wayne North and Jason Wagstaff

This month’s UMSL Hero Award honorees are (from left) Valerie Dratwick, senior lab technician: studios and FABlab; Wayne North, Information Technology Services project manager; and Jason Wagstaff, Information Technology Services chief technology officer. (Photos by August Jennewein)

University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and her cabinet continue to recognize the exemplary efforts of staff and faculty members from across campus by bestowing the UMSL Hero Award on up to three individuals each month.

This month’s honorees are Valerie Dratwick, senior lab technician: studios and FABlab; Wayne North, Information Technology Services project manager; and Jason Wagstaff, Information Technology Services chief technology officer.

Valerie Dratwick

Valerie Dratwick first came to UMSL as a student, graduating with a BFA in studio art in 2005. A printmaker and photographer by trade, Dratwick has showcased her work in galleries and institutions throughout the region and is currently working toward her MFA.

In 2015, she returned to UMSL to take a role as senior lab technician in the Department of Art and Design.

In her position, Dratwick assists Jeffrey Sippel, professor of art, printmaking, in the printmaking lab, where she maintains the presses and assists students. She also works in the department’s computer lab, helping students with the printers and photo printers.

Maureen Quigley, department chair and teaching professor of art history and ancient and Medieval art, noted that Dratwick has become an integral part of the art and design team and has taken on duties and responsibilities beyond her job description.

“She is likewise serving as a leader with the redesign, refurbishment and safety practices of the Fine Arts Building during Covid,” Quigley wrote in nominating Dratwick. “She is a friendly, consistent staff leader who has created an environment of positivity in the last several years. She has moved beyond what is expected.”

The revamp of the Fine Arts Building was an organizational puzzle that Dratwick spearheaded.

“I did a lot of reorganization in storage rooms to classrooms,” Dratwick said. “Every building goes through this, where things have been piled up for 20-plus years. A lot of cleaning, organizing and making sure chemicals are properly stored.”

She’s thankful not only for the recognition, but also for the opportunity to work with Quigley and Sippel over the years.

“It is flattering to be a hero, especially working with two really big deals, Maureen Quigley and Jeffrey Sippel,” she said.

Wayne North

Wayne North didn’t know much about the UMSL Hero Awards before he found out he’d be receiving one, but he felt appreciative.

“I’m honored to receive the award,” he said.

North has been with UMSL nearly 10 years, serving as a project manager with ITS. He came to the university with about 17 years of project management experience in the IT industry. Through contacts in the industry, he heard the department had gone through a reorganization and thought it would a good career opportunity and match for his skillset.

“Typically, after those types of things – in my history, my career – are a good time to get into departments,” he said. “A lot of what I deal with is change and change management, things around that. Those are things that fit within the project management role.”

His expertise in that area has been particularly valuable to University Advancement as the department updates some old processes and software. North recently built efficiencies to streamline data requests.

“I took a process that they had gotten to rather organically and that was being managed in older systems and modernized it in a way that brings in some newer tools that allow them a lot more options for everybody,” he explained.

He also helped Advancement upgrade its CRM system from an older technology platform to a modern relational database driven platform. Chancellor Kristin Sobolik commended his work on the project.

“Wayne went above and beyond to help out in our Alumni Advancement Services area by meeting all of their reporting and data needs,” Sobolik wrote in her nomination.

North said he’s doing what he can to pitch in.

“We’re all wearing a lot of hats, but while that can be a little bit stressful, in some cases, you can turn that into an opportunity,” he said.

Jason Wagstaff

As chief technology officer for ITS, Jason Wagstaff has also been instrumental in transitioning Advancement to new technologies and processes.

“I’m told the old system had been around for 20 years, and it was in bad shape,” he said, referring to the CRM upgrade. “We worked with the four campuses to identify a new solution and then worked to implement that for the last year.”

The new system went live at the beginning of the month, which was a major milestone for Advancement and ITS.

In her nomination, Rebecca Cole, interim vice chancellor for Advancement, thanked Wagstaff for his efforts and noted his support has helped the department meet its goals during a challenging period.

“Jason has been immediately responsive to our requests for assistance and has worked tirelessly to make sure the situation is addressed,” Cole wrote. “He has kept us functioning and moving forward in a sometimes-stressful environment. He manages interactions by providing data and walking us through how we might anticipate what’s next. He has been a calming expert in an environment where most of us do not have expertise to make independent decisions. If ever there was a leader in an adjacent department to Advancement, it would be Jason as he has led us and continues to mentor us through a difficult transition.”

Wagstaff has led ITS as CTO since 2020, but he’s been with UMSL for 22 years. He started his career in the College of Education as a developer working on grant projects and then moved to ITS, where he held various positions including system administrator, developer and director.

He said the best thing about his latest role is the ability to help shape the future of UMSL.

“It’s good,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to work with the other four campuses and choose technologies for the future of where IT is moving.”

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