Strange's Florists Superheroes of the Game

With the help from Richmond Athletics Corporate Partner Strange’s Florists, Spider Athletics recognized University staff members who have been superheroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following is adapted from nominations by the winners’ peers. The superheroes have been and will continue to be recognized during select home games on the Robins Center videoboards, select TV broadcasts of our men’s basketball games, and on Richmond Athletics’ social media pages.

Patrick Benner

Director, Residence Life & Housing

Patrick ensured that residence halls meet the requirements for COVID safety. He oversaw the multiple student move-outs for students, arranged for student belongings to be shipped home, and found housing for students who could not leave campus. He also set up practices for a safe residential environment upon students’ return. He has had to make difficult decisions that keep the entire campus and surrounding community safe.

"Patrick Benner has been amazing during this crisis which began way back in March. Though none of us have ever been through something of this nature, Patrick stepped in and developed detailed strategies for complex initiatives such as; shipping emergency items to students who could not return to campus from spring break, returning student belongings for over 200 students, scheduling COVID testing for all returning and new fall students, arranging prevalence testing, and much more.

His work has required long hours many of which have been in the evenings and on weekends/holidays. work has required long hours. I can tell he is in part motivated by his love of the University of Richmond. He has been guided by our communities health and safety some who become disgruntled or frustrated.

Remember, we are talking about over 2500 students when you are developing strategies for move-in, testing, move-out or shipping items. I am proud to have worked with Patrick for many years. He is exceptional at his work. His dedication is amazing." - Steve Bisese

Tishelle Cosby

Line Service Associate – Heilman Dining Center

Tishelle was "instrumental in the setup of the servery and gave lots of input how it would best work from a practical aspect. [Her] suggestions were implemented with great success." She worked extra shifts to cover staffing shortages, "readily volunteering starting in March."

Tishelle also helps both the student workers and her entire team adhere to COVID-19 standards and protocols and helps them "feel comfortable with all best practices."

Lauren Foligno

Assistant Director of Programming – Center of Student Involvement

Lauren developed programming for students during the pandemic, creating fun, engaging, and safe programs to engage the student body. Her efforts were instrumental in ensuring an engaged campus during a difficult and isolating time.

“Lauren has tirelessly and passionately worked within the CSI team and the community to collaboratively develop creative and new programming for students. Her “can-do”, “glass ½ full” approach to most any idea allows for infectious enthusiasm, even in the world of a COVID pandemic. We are proud of her as a member of the CSI team and also share in congratulating her!" - Alison Keller

Mauricio Lopez

Recycling & Custodial Support Associate – University Facilities/Recycling

"Mauricio has set the example for his peers and he clearly make safety a priority. He values hospitality while focusing on quality and he takes the time to provide feedback regarding more efficient practices. As an advocate and supporter of department initiatives, he drives them forward while constantly thinking of our customer and works towards accommodating their needs. Mauricio sets the example by ensuring those around them support and follow all COVID related policies and procedures. His positivity is contagious and he is a pleasure to work with. Mauricio has been the go to member of his team with assembling and installing hundreds of hand sanitizing and disinfecting wipe stations across campus. He continues to support COVID-19 procedures by monitoring our inventory and providing appropriate supplies to our team."

Jon Mykich

Lead Stores Associate – Heilman Dining Center

Jon covered multiple job areas and processes during the pandemic, including filling in for his supervisor and training two new hires. Throughout, his coworkers said he remained positive and focused on solutions that assured our continuous improvement.

"Jon has done an amazing job in the Lead Stores Associate position, which is a fairly new position. He has been an huge asset to the Stores and Requisitions Manager and the Stores team during this last year with Covid-19 and all of the changes that have taken place within the department." - Megan Freeman

Shannon Sinclair

Vice President and General Counsel - Office of the President

"Shannon navigated the dual roles of legal guru and public health guide, managing UR's COVID-19 response to ensure legal, ethical, and medical compliance was in place with solid guidelines based on sound principles. She fielded questions adroitly, shifting between roles easily and effectively to provide calm and assured responses in all situations with grace and clarity. UR would have been lost in this situation without her steady and wise counsel."

"She has been working tirelessly to implement policies to keep all of us safe while at the same time working with the Title IX changes that were made close to the official opening of the fall semester. She has led one of the major team for COVID policy and response with grace and excellent communication."

Vessela Stefanova

Administrative Assistant – University Facilities/Support Services

Vessela filled in not only as a Warehouse Clerk and an Administrative Assistant but also as the primary Health Screener for Facilities staff and contractors. In her role in the Isolation/Quarantine Response Protocol, she tracks the daily occupancy, work order history, and assignments of the rooms of students moved to isolation/quarantine.

"She is always greeting you with a smile in the morning as you are screened for the day, as well as always willing to help you with answering questions or directing you to who can help during this COVID craziness!" - Sara Card

Wendy Sheppard

Assistant Director, Sports & Risk Management – University Recreation

Wendy was key to organizing and managing both student daily health screenings, as well as all COVID-19 testing. She continuously updates the health and safety policies for the Weinstein Center for Recreation.

"With all of the additional responsibilities assigned to Wendy since the start of COVID, she has never complained, and strives to make improvements/decisions that are in the best interest of our students and our campus. Our department, and this campus, would not being moving in the forward direction that we are if Wendy was not helping to guide and lead us. She has been a friend, mentor, and support to many and she is so deserving of recognition for her hard work." - Marti Tomlin

Robin Walinski

Administrative Assistant – Health & Well Being Operations

Robin supported the clinical team at the Student Health Center and responded to student and parent concerns. Answering the phones was a “monumental” job during the fall 2020 semester, but her coworkers noted “she always has a smile.” She responds to the SHC COVID Hotline, manages all encrypted communication with the Virginia Department of Health, tracks test results, and takes weekend calls for administrative services.

"[Robin has provided] excellent support to our clinical team during the pandemic." - Lynne Watson

"She has been reporting (on site) to the SHC for duty throughout the pandemic. Most importantly, she does it all with a smile and a positive attitude. The SHC has been slammed by the COVID Express and we are most grateful Robin is a on Team SHC! She is most deserving of armloads of flowers!" - Lynne Deane