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Online SUN Awards program sends nomination numbers soaring

March 15, 2007

Has one of your colleagues had a burst of creativity lately, or worked hard at continuous improvement? Perhaps it's time to reward your co-worker with a SUN Award. But wait. Where did you file those certificates? Was it under “S” or “A”? Or are they at the bottom of that huge pile of paper?

ASU employees now can send SUN (Serving University Needs) Awards to their colleagues with the ease of sending an e-mail, thanks to staff members Sandy Plentzas and Steffany Knirsch. The online Sun Awards can be found at

SUN Awards -
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SUN Award for Individual Excellence?
This peer recognition award provides all ASU employees the opportunity to give specific and immediate recognition to fellow employees for demonstrations of individual excellence.

Who may receive SUN Awards?
Any ASU employee may be presented with a SUN Award certificate.

Who may submit SUN Awards?
Any ASU employee may submit a SUN Award by either accessing the new online SUN Award at or by completing a paper SUN Award certificate. Employees may request additional paper SUN Award certificates by calling the Office of Human Resources at (480) 965-4751 or at (602) 543-8400 on West campus.

When can SUN Awards be given?
Individual employees can be presented with SUN Award certificates throughout the year. All recipients are entered in the annual SUN Award gift drawing which occurs in the spring. This is a calendar year award, so SUN Award certificates presented during 2006 will be entered in the spring 2007 drawing.

Plentzas, a technology support analyst for Administrative Affairs, says the online component was added to the peer-presented SUN Awards, which previously were paper certificates, “to add convenience for those wishing to recognize their co-workers, to increase the number of awards presented, and to reduce costs by saving paper.”

“The electronic version offers a more convenient way to store historical information about the awards, which will be beneficial in administering the program as well as reporting program statistics,” Plentzas says. “The new system also will enable Human Resources to provide feedback to vice-presidential areas on the recognition occurring in their areas.”

Plentzas says she was thrilled to have the opportunity to automate the SUN Awards program.

“I spent six years as an analyst, programmer and software engineer before coming to ASU, so when Steffany Knirsch, director of Human Resources, approached me about the possibility of automating the awards, I jumped at the chance to come up with a solution,” she says.

Plentzas says she enjoyed the opportunity to coordinate and interact with all the people involved in the project.

The SUN Award Online application was launched for a trial run for West campus users Nov. 30, and opened to all of ASU March 9.

So how has the electronic form been received?

Plentzas says that from January through Nov. 30, 2006, before the online form was launched, 185 paper SUN Awards were presented on the West campus. In just the first month after the launch, 122 electronic SUN Awards were presented to West campus employees, an increase of 72 percent per month.

Matthew McElrath, associate vice president and chief human resources officer, values and supports employee recognition at ASU.

“I am impressed with the automated SUN Award,” he says. “There are many ASU employees who provide exceptional service, and we need to recognize them for their contributions.

“The automated SUN Award now makes it easier to do just that. Sandy Plentzas deserves recognition for her role in developing it. In fact, I just sent her an online SUN Award saying so.”