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Pawvluk, Casani Earn Awards for Excellence at the University Level

Katrina Pawvluk of University Housing and Dr. Julie Casani of Student Health Services have earned NC State’s highest award for non-faculty employees.

The Belltower on a sunny summer day

Last week, two NC State Division of Academic and Student Affairs employees were recognized for their outstanding work and crucial contributions in managing the university’s COVID-19 response in the past year. Katrina Pawvluk, director of administration and occupancy management for University Housing, and Dr. Julie Casani, director and medical director of Student Health Services, received Awards for Excellence at the university level at a ceremony on June 8.

The Award for Excellence is the most prestigious honor bestowed upon non-faculty employees. This award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of individual employees, above and beyond an employee’s normal job responsibilities. Pawvluk was recognized in the Customer Service category, and Casani received the Outstanding State Government Service award.


Katrina Pawvluk 

Katrina Pawvluk (center) receives the 2022 Award for Excellence in Customer Service from Lisa Zapata and Chancellor Randy Woodson

Pawvluk was nominated for the award by Donna McGalliard, assistant vice chancellor and executive director of University Housing. In her letter, McGalliard noted that Pawvluk’s unselfish dedication to the students served by University Housing and her work managing quarantine and isolation housing on campus exceeded expectations.

“Katrina has served as one of the leaders in University Housing’s efforts to manage over 200 spaces of quarantine and isolation housing for students who needed a safe place to stay while they recovered from or had been exposed to the COVID-19 virus,” McGalliard wrote. “Katrina has managed logistics for quarantine/isolation housing from ensuring we have processes to assign students to the rooms, ensuring the rooms are prepared with the supplies the university can provide the students while they are staying there and managing the communication process between multiple departments who also serve the needs of the students.”

In addition to her work within University Housing, Pawvluk met and regularly coordinated with other departments like dining, housekeeping, transportation and Student Health to ensure quality service and care for students in isolation and quarantine housing. Pawvluk also led communication efforts with students and families regarding quarantine and isolation housing, including countless personal phone calls and emails to connect them to helpful resources.

“These emails and phone calls often had Katrina several hours after the close of business and over the weekend when a majority of the staff on campus get to unplug from our work,” McGalliard noted. “This constant attention to communication during non-work hours is for sure going above and beyond to provide service and when I think about the fact that Katrina has done this regularly over the past year — and more — demonstrates an unselfish commitment to ensure our students are supported.” 

These tasks fall outside Pawvluk’s primary responsibilities, which include implementing the regular housing occupancy processes for on-campus residential communities. Pawvluk manages the creation of all applications, room assignment and selection procedures and communication to residents about their housing on campus. She also works closely with the Disability Resources Office to support students with specific housing needs.

“Katrina is the primary example of how a staff member expands the services the university provides to meet the needs our students and their families expect,” McGalliard wrote. “Not once did Katrina complain, ask to be given different responsibilities or try to pass off this additional work to a broader team of staff. While Katrina would be the first to remind us that these processes take everyone in University Housing and many others in campus units to work successfully, her leadership has been pivotal in helping us find success and navigate calmly through the ever-changing public health situation we find ourselves in.”

Dr. Julie Casani

Casani was nominated by Lisa Zapata, senior associate vice chancellor for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. Casani has served as chief medical advisor to Chancellor Randy Woodson and the entire NC State community since early 2020 and throughout the global pandemic. In her nomination letter, Zapata praised Casani as a “spokesperson, an advisor, a content expert and a voice of reason, calm and compassion.” Zapata also commended Casani for leading the university’s efforts to establish ongoing COVID-19 test sites, train staff, conduct testing, administer vaccines, implement a contact tracing program, establish quarantine and isolation protocols, track data and much more. 

Zapata noted that under Casani’s leadership, NC State has managed COVID-19 vaccine administration or record review of over 35,000 individuals, more than 320,000 tests (not including all return to campus testing), and over 3,000 students in isolation/quarantine on-campus housing. 

“Despite the grueling schedule, Dr. Casani has consistently made time to support and advise faculty members and staff as they have navigated this dynamic and complex crisis in their classrooms and in their workspaces,” Zapata wrote. “She has managed the financial challenges created by the pandemic, she has checked labs night after night after night, and she has answered more emails, phone calls and inquiries from students, parents, faculty, staff, administrators and media than anyone can imagine. She has done this consistently and with unwavering commitment throughout the pandemic, and she has done this with patience, insight, grace and good humor.” 

Zapata noted that Casani’s background in public health prepared her for the challenges that have arisen over the past few years. Prior to her current role, she served as the director of public health preparedness and response at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She also served as an emergency room doctor at John Hopkins for 13 years. 

“Dr. Casani has used all of this experience and accumulated wisdom to brilliantly lead us through this pandemic, keeping us focused on tasks, best practices, data, clear communication and compassion,” Zapata wrote. “While many employees worked from home for a large part of the pandemic, Dr. Casani and her colleagues never stayed home. They have always been on the front lines. Dr. Casani has worked through weekend after weekend, without any breaks for months at a time. The coronavirus did not stop every Friday at 5 p.m. and begin again on Monday at 8 a.m., and neither did Dr. Casani.” 

“Dr. Casani’s work is all the more impressive as she and her colleagues do not have the support of a medical school,” Zapata continued. “Yet, what is so amazing, is that for all intents and purposes, what Dr. Casani essentially did was to establish a local health department for our 36,000 students and 10,000 employees.” 

In addition to her extraordinary service to NC State, Casani has also been a critical leader at the county and state levels, throughout the UNC System and beyond. She was even asked to serve on the Atlantic Coast Conference COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group. 

“While providing broad and sustained leadership at all of these levels throughout the pandemic, Julie has continued to run Student Health Services, to serve as the coordinator for the global health minor and to teach in her role as adjunct associate professor in biological sciences,” Zapata said. “NC State will forever be grateful for Julie’s leadership throughout this national pandemic.”

Other Nominees

Other nominees for the 2022 Awards for Excellence at the division level included:

  • Tiffany Coggins, Student Health Services
  • Katherine Fuller, Arts NC State Ticket Central
  • Michelle Garoutte, Exploratory Studies
  • Tom Hardiman, Student Conduct
  • Kasey Harris, University College
  • Jeff Holt, University Housing Facilities
  • Muriel Hood, Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes
  • Michael Horton, University Housing Facilities
  • Meghan Luzader, University Housing
  • Kim Nguyen-Dinh, Counseling Services
  • Scott O’Leary, University Housing
  • Jeffrey Parks, Counseling Services
  • Dawn Speas, TRIO Programs
  • Loi Tran, Exploratory Studies
  • Rebecca Woskoff, TRIO Programs
  • Vickie Youngblood, University College