The Civil Service Council is proud to announce the winners of the Civil Service Distinguished Service Awards and the Civil Service Esprit de Corps recognition for 2021.
Walter “Lee” Fox of Building Services/Grounds Management, Stephanie Kohl Ringle of the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts, Tracy Widergren of University Marketing and Communications, and Jeffrey A. Withey of Facilities Management have each been awarded a Civil Service Distinguished Service Award. Lois Soeldner of Admissions was named the Civil Service Esprit de Corps winner. Congratulations to each of the award recipients and thank you for your outstanding support and service at Illinois State University!
Civil Service Distinguished Service Awards
Walter “Lee” Fox, Building Services/Grounds Management
Walter “Lee” Fox has spent over 28 years working for Illinois State University. Lee began his career as a Building Service worker intern in 1993, then worked his way up through the ranks to assistant superintendent of Building Services. Lee provides direction for all Building Services and Laundry staff, totaling approximately 220 employees. He serves on interview teams, committees, and meets with people across campus to better maintain spaces. Lee enjoys the family-friendly work environment; the services his department provides for the campus every day; and making Illinois State an exciting experience for all students, employees, and guests.
Fox has volunteered and worked with committees and organizations around campus as well as outside of the University. On campus, Fox is involved with the Association of Black Academic Employees (ABAE), the Health & Safety Committee, the Labor Management Team, New Employee Training, and Temporary Upgrade Foremen Training. He is the current president of the Association of College and University Building Service Supervisors (ACUBSS), having previously served as treasurer and president-elect. Lee keeps the member universities connected by hosting annual conferences, inviting vendors to attend, networking to learn best practices, and staying informed with the latest trends in the custodial field. In addition to ACUBSS, Lee is active with the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) and has received a GBAC Fundamentals Online Course certificate. He is also an active member of Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA), the premiere educational facilities organization. He is a graduate of the Supervisor Toolkit, APPA Institute, and APPA Leadership. Fox has a love of sports. He enjoys training and has been involved in coaching and officiating youth football and basketball games in the community for several years.
Fox have been married for over 26 years to his beautiful wife, Michelle, and they have a daughter named Danielle. Fox is also a proud U-High graduate and his daughter continued the legacy as a graduate as well. Fox enjoys spending time with his wife and playing sports when he’s not at work.
Stephanie Kohl Ringle, Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts
Stephanie Kohl Ringle is the assistant to the dean and communications associate for the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts. She has been a member of the dean’s staff since 2014 when she joined the Illinois State University campus community. In her current role, Kohl Ringle assists with the daily operations of the college; writes and edits for the college’s News Hub, website, and social media as well as collaborates with other college and university partners on communication initiatives; organizes events and plans visits for alumni and other guests; coordinates Homecoming activities; serves as the college liaison to the Friends of the Arts Board and Alumni Engagement Office; works with University Advancement on giving initiatives such as Birds Give Back; and is the co-host for the annual New York Theatre Trip, which has a 40-year history at the college.
Kohl Ringle is a 2013 graduate of the Multicultural Leadership Program where she has served on the Marketing Committee and as a Group Project Advisor; is an active member of the Association for Women in Communications (AWC) where she is currently in her third year on the Board and second year as co-vice president of membership; and is a member of the Communications Professionals group of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD). Kohl Ringle’s life-long passion for philanthropy and mentorship has led to numerous community service opportunities with various organizations.
Tracy Widergren, University Marketing and Communications
Tracy Widergren (’03, M.S. ’15) joined Illinois State University (ISU) in 2009 as the marketing and assessment coordinator for what was then known as Campus Dining Services. In 2013, she joined University Marketing and Communications (UMC) as the associate director of operations, overseeing project management and the daily operations of the department. In 2016, she assumed management of the multimedia team, and in 2019, of the photography team. Today, she works with clients across campus and her colleagues in UMC to coordinate, advise, facilitate, and produce a variety of print, digital, video, and photo projects. In addition to working full-time at UMC, Widergren joined the School of Communication in 2016 as a lecturer and has taught Communication as Critical Inquiry and Organizational and Professional Speaking.
During her time at ISU, Widergren has been actively involved with many committees and organizations, including serving as the chair of the Dining Services Advisory Council from 2009-2013 and co-chair of the Educate Connect Elevate: Illinois State Marketing, Communication, and Engagement workgroup since 2017. She has also served as a member of the EMAS Recruitment and Retention Initiatives Committee (2017-present), the Bird Shirt Committee (2009-2013), the Student Affairs Marketing Council (2009-2014), the Homecoming Steering Committee (2012-2014), and the 2017-2018 Leadership Initiative cohort.
In 2016, Widergren was invited to join the Town of Normal’s 2040 Visioning Committee, as well as participated as part of the Town and Gown Relations Advisory Group for the Town of Normal Comprehensive Plan. In 2017, she was appointed to the Town’s Planning Commission and began her second term in 2020. She lives in Normal with her husband, Jason, and son, Caleb. In her free time, she reads cookbooks as if they were novels, enjoys traveling the country via motorcycle (as a passenger), and reading.
Jeffrey A. Withey, Facilities Management
Jeffrey Withey started at Illinois State University in September of 2000 as a baker for what was then Campus Dining Services. As the dining centers were making changes to the bakery program, Withey applied to Facilities Management and started in Facilities Stores in 2007, earning his way to the position of Stores supervisor in March of 2019. Withey has made it his goal for Stores to support the needs of the campus community in the best way possible. At Stores, it is his pleasure to find and purchase what is needed to keep buildings as a whole on-line and functioning from the wax on the floors to the lights in the ceilings and everything in between. Stores works with all the trades and departments to keep ISU students in a clean, safe environment, where they can be comfortable and confident in where they live, eat, and study.
Withey and his wife, Vickey, reside in Minier, and have three adult children and six granddaughters, for which they attend as many softball games, volleyball games, tournaments, band concerts, and family vacations as possible. Withey attends the Minier First Assembly Church and has been a board member for four years. In that role, he is the church secretary and oversees the cleaning and sanitation of the church. He volunteers with the community of churches during “The Church Has Left the Building” project where members volunteer to complete projects in communities to aid businesses, schools, parks, and churches.
Withey and his wife previously served as house parents at the Salem Children’s Home in Flanagan for 10 boys and they continue to have a love for individuals with developmental disabilities and supports them by taking them out of their nursing homes or group homes for outings and activities to provide community interaction and involvement. The couple’s favorite thing to do is having cookouts with family on their patio. With Withey’s bakery background, he has also made many wedding cakes for former students who worked with him in the bakery at ISU.
Esprit de Corps Award
Lois Soeldner, Admissions
Lois Soeldner began her career at Illinois State University in the spring of 2004, serving at the reception desk of Admissions Processing. She was quickly taught to process freshman applications and application fee waivers and eventually advanced to her current position as an admissions and records supervisor. While Soeldner’s duties and location in the Office of Admissions has changed numerous times over the years, she has always remained as a support resource for the Admissions Processing team. Her office family has proven to be as essential as her own family members.
At the urging of her then-supervisor, Stacy Ramsey, Soeldner ran for a seat on the Civil Service Council in 2009 and found herself immersed in council activities and various committees such as the annual Scholarship Raffle, the Community Food Drive, and the election committee, and also updated the council by-laws. The following year, she was elected as chairperson of the Civil Service Council and served in that role for five-and-a-half years, taking full advantage of the wonderful opportunities to serve the University that the position provided like representing the council on the Academic Senate, volunteering at the ISU Children’s Holiday Party, and serving on numerous search committees.
After her term, Soeldner continued to assist the Civil Service Council by serving on the Scholarship Committee, supporting the Civil Service Scholarship Raffle, and providing guidance to current council members on the Awards Committee and on the Election Committee. She has also served over eight years as president of the Ellsworth American Legion Auxiliary and several years as a board member of the Illinois Farmers Union. Soeldner currently serves on her church’s Pastor-Parish Relations (PPR) Committee and as a court-appointed officer for the McLean County Small Claims Court, serving as a court mediator to reach settlement of cases for those without attorney representation.