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Laura Abing

Rick Arcuri

Thomas Pilak




Alix Riley

What are University Service Awards?
“Excellence” is exhibited in many different ways at Marquette University, including among staff and administrators. To help celebrate, and encourage, excellence among employees, Marquette University annually honors staff and administrators who exemplify excellence in the work they do.

The 2018 recipients of the Excellence in University Service Awards are Laura Abing, Rick Arcuri, Thomas Pilak and Alix Riley.



Dr. Laura Abing
University Advancement

Much of Dr. Laura Abing’s love of life has stemmed from Marquette University. Marquette is where she met her husband, Kevin, received her master’s and doctorate degrees, and has been employed for nearly 19 years.

A senior communication specialist in University Advancement, Abing brings an unbridled enthusiasm to everything she does.

“It’s easy to serve through a place I really believe in,” she says. “It’s not just a job; working on behalf of this university is a privileged vocation, allowing me to promote an institution and faith-based mission that have helped me become the person and professional I am.”

Colleagues say she takes great pride in her work, goes the extra mile to ensure that projects are completed in a quality manner and cares deeply about co-workers by expressing attentiveness, prayers, gifts and shared laughter. And she does it all with grace and humor.

Abing is active in the University Staff Senate, currently serving as secretary. She is a past chair and past vice-chair of the senate.

“Her ebullient personality lights up the University Staff Senate as well as every corner of the university,” says Brien Farley, a senior communication specialist who is one of Abing’s colleagues. “From house cleaners to faculty to deans to Dr. Lovell, ask any of them, and they’ll tell you that Laura is a critical ingredient in making Marquette a great place to be.”
She cites her service with the senate as a highlight of her career at Marquette. She also fondly recalls working with Dr. Gary Meyer, senior vice provost for faculty affairs, in writing and editing the 200-plus-page reaccreditation document for the Higher Learning Commission in 2013.

Rick Arcuri
Student Affairs

Director of Business Operations and Auxiliary Services | Student Affairs
In his 30 years of service at Marquette, Rick Arcuri has held a number of positions, including residence hall director, facilities manager, assistant and associate dean of residence life, and now executive director of business operations and auxiliary services for student affairs. But the thread that runs through all of them, according to his colleagues and co-workers, is his work ethic and his devotion to the university and its students.

When asked if he had any advice for his fellow Marquette employees, Arcuri said, “Work directly with students as often as you can. They appreciate learning from you, and you may be surprised at how much you will learn in return. Step out of your comfort zone. We sometimes become too entrenched in our daily routines, and it causes us to miss opportunities to grow. Take a moment every day to make someone smile.”
It’s this friendly and approachable attitude that led a dozen of Arcuri’s colleagues to nominate him for the Excellence in University Service Award, with comments such as, “Rick is a role model for cura personalis, in that he takes the time to get to know people as individuals,” and “Rick is an employee of strong character, morality and faith. His excellent sense of humor and a desire to see that others are recognized for their work endears him to colleagues across campus.”

“I feel very fortunate to work alongside people who felt strongly enough about the work that I do that they took time out of their busy days to support my being nominated for this award,” Arcuri says. “It was an incredibly pleasant surprise.”

Thomas Pilak
School of Dentistry

When things are running smoothly at the School of Dentistry, students, faculty and staff can typically thank Coordinator of Informatics Tom Pilak — although he would never seek such recognition.

During the times when things aren’t going quite right — such as when a card reader stops working and someone has to stand at the door to make sure students can get into the building — Pilak is there for that, too. For his 36-plus years of service to Marquette and the School of Dentistry, Pilak is a recipient of a 2018 Excellence in University Service Award.

“Tom is the kind of worker that doesn’t look for recognition,” says his supervisor, Thomas Wirtz. “Instead, he works in the background ensuring that everything is ready for another day in the classroom and clinic. I am proud and honored to work with such a fine man.”

Whether it’s arriving early or staying late, Pilak is known for doing whatever it takes to troubleshoot audio/visual issues and keep classes and events running smoothly. And, given where he works, it’s especially appropriate that he usually takes on these tasks with a smile.

“One day after failing to get a lecture to project in one of our large lecture halls, I called on Mr. Pilak,” says Clinic Director Richard Hagner. “After showing me how to correctly insert the jump drive into the computer, he smiled and made me believe this was a common occurrence. Instead of feeling foolish, he made me feel like I was doing well, and I proceeded with confidence. He works this magic with everyone he assists.”

Alix Riley
Office of Institutional Research and Analysis

If you were to comb through the dozen or more comments from her colleagues in Alexandra “Alix” Riley’s nomination for the Excellence in University Service Award, two words will surely stand out: responsive and diligent.

The director of the Office of Institutional Research and Analysis began at Marquette in 2007 as a managerial reporting specialist, and while she’s remained in IR throughout her time at the university, Riley says, “I can honestly say that no two days have been the same, and I’ve never been bored.”

As director of OIRA, Riley leads a team that is responsible for connecting university stakeholders with accurate, reliable and actionable information to enable effective decision-making in support of student success.

“In short, Alix makes the work we all do better,” says Brian Troyer, dean of undergraduate admissions. “She makes us a smarter and more data-driven institution, but her contributions go well beyond that. Alix cares deeply about her work, and the people and departments she and OIRA support.”

Provost Daniel J. Myers agrees. “Having worked with many IR staff members at different universities in my career, I can easily say that Alix is the best,” he says. “Her diligence, professionalism and efficiency are astonishing, especially given the constrained resources at her disposal.”

“Over the past 10 years, Marquette has provided me many opportunities to grow both professionally and personally, and I am very grateful to be part of the Marquette community. I am humbled and honored to receive this award,” Riley says.