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Laura Yurco
Laura Yurco

Laura Yurco in the department of chemistry has been named 2020 Manager of the Year. Sponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill’s University Managers Association, the Manager of the Year award is based on University career accomplishments, both within and beyond normal job responsibilities, or a specific accomplishment made within the previous 12 months that has been of major significance.

“It is an absolute honor to have received this award and I am thankful for those that took the time to write a nomination for me. It would not have been possible without the guidance of several great managers and the support of those I work with now,” Yurco said. “To celebrate I did a little celebration dance and song with my daughter after I found out!”

Yurco joined the department of chemistry in 2017 with over 13 years of experience with the University.

“I started at the University in 2004 as a wide-eyed new graduate not knowing the experience I would gain over the next 15 years at the University,” she said. “I worked my way up from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the UNC School of Medicine’s department of otolaryngology and then on to the College of Arts & Sciences, in psychology, the Dean’s Office and now chemistry. The variety of jobs, bosses and areas of the University has given me a diversity of experiences to help me more effectively deal with many different situations and personalities. These experiences have served me well in guiding my role as a manager and leader, very important aspects of my job.”

Yurco has now worked with the department for over two years as associate chair for business administration.

“I have been in the department of chemistry almost two and a half years and enjoy being surrounded by such a collaborative and intelligent group of people,” Yurco said. “My role is responsible for overseeing the administration of the department. I oversee current business processes, provide recommendations and implement process improvements, determine cost saving strategies, maximize resources and lead organizational strategic initiatives.

“My favorite part of my job is being able to make strategic changes that result in positive improvements to the department. I really enjoy opportunities to make things better!”

The chemistry department is housed in seven buildings on campus with six divisions of research. Faculty and staff in the department shared their experiences working with Yurco:

“The word that has always stuck with me from a recommendation letter at the time we interviewed Laura is unflappable. That trait has been on display constantly from day 1.  Surprise deadline in three hours? No problem. Administrative miracle needed? Think Flutie to Phelan as the clock expires. High functioning team needed for complex, multifaceted tasks? Check.

“Laura simply gets it done and with a smile and unhurried demeanor that never gives away how quickly she’s chipping away at the problems and moving the needle. She’s fun and easy to work with, and it’s wonderful to see her get this well-deserved recognition” — Jeff Johnson, A. Ronald Gallant Distinguished Professor and department chair

“Having Laura as my manager for the last couple years of my work time is sending me out on a high note. Her willingness to continue to teach me new things, stretch to be even better and appreciation of my input has been extremely satisfying.” — Debbie Norton, clerical team leader and manager

“Laura’s commitment to excellence is unparalleled — she has helped restructure our department, improved its operations efficiency tremendously and brought creative solutions to the table.” — Jillian Dempsey, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies

“Laura’s the best manager, and now the whole University knows! She really deserves the recognition, and I’m very lucky to have been able to work with her.” — Mandy Melton, administrative support associate

“Laura has been a tremendous asset to our department. She is always very upbeat and looking for ways to make the experience in our department a better one. She is extremely helpful and in many ways has helped us to understand various aspects of ‘behind the scenes’ things that always seemed like a black box before.” — Kathleen Nevins, lecturer and supervisor of Undergraduate Teaching Labs

“Laura has certainly helped in making my transition to UNC a smooth one! I’m very thankful for Laura’s hands on approach. She has such a wonderfully warm and pleasant demeanor and makes it such a joy to work under her leadership.” — Gail Harris, administrative support associate

“It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Laura. She brings a positive attitude that goes a long way to making lasting, value-added changes to a lot of the challenges the department faces, sometimes on a daily basis.” — Ralph House, associate chair for research

“Laura lends her support and guidance to staff by showing a sincere interest in what they do. Laura also supports personal growth and opportunities and is willing to share ideas and techniques.” — Laura Condie, grant proposal specialist

By Alice Zhao, department of chemistry




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