From the series President’s Awards for Excellence 2022

2022 Excellence in Human Relations (Unclassified)

Heather Casto

Heather Casto

Heather Casto, academic programming director in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, received the 2022 President’s Award for Excellence in Human Relations (Unclassified) for her professional, efficient and fruitful performance.

Her colleagues say she is an indispensable part of the department.

Since Casto joined the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering in 2013, she has become known as the glue that holds the department together. She has served through three chair changes and multiple restructurings of staff.

“Heather is the face of the department for our students and visitors, and the liaison for me and the faculty with the administrative branches of the university — the bursar, Graduate School, registrar and the Lake Campus,” said Raghu Srinivasan, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department. “As someone who has historical knowledge teaching performance, and likes and dislikes of instructors, Heather has been an invaluable resource to me for scheduling classes and staffing them appropriate with both full-time and adjunct faculty.”

Casto is responsible for onboarding adjunct faculty members and hiring new student workers. Her colleagues commend her excellent work in managing teaching schedules that avoid potential conflicts or tension among faculty members.

She serves the faculty by making herself available to answer questions on a day-to-day basis and always has an answer or knows the faculty member who would know the answer. She is the record keeper for the department and external advisory board meetings and keeps detailed records of decision-making.

“This is of utmost importance to the smooth functioning of the department,” Srinivasan said.

Casto is the first person who interacts with new graduate students by advising them on course selection, employment and other academic opportunities. She also works extensively with international students who have little knowledge of American academic systems. Her work with these students has contributed greatly to the retention and graduation statistics in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

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