Named for long-time UK Libraries director Paul A. Willis, the Willis Award is given annually to a UK Libraries faculty member who stands out amongst their colleagues through outstanding achievements in their primary assignment and exemplary leadership, creativity, and spirit of service.
Faculty members are nominated by their colleagues and selected by the National Advisory Board. Winners receive a cash award and are recognized at the annual UK Libraries National Advisory Board’s Spring Celebration.
View all of our past Willis Award recipients, and learn more about our most recent winners below.
Reinette Jones has served UK Libraries since 1988 and is currently a member of the Special Collections Research Center and an affiliate with the Program in African American & Africana Studies. Jones has developed several vital library resources, including the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (NKAA), which shares the untold stories of African Americans in and from Kentucky. With 450,000 annual visits, the NKAA is a major resource for researchers across Kentucky and around the world. Jones has also worked extensively with the LGBTQ* community, and has been recognized with lifetime achievement and service awards from Kentucky LGBTQ* groups. Jones is the creator of the Lesbian Studies Research Guide, one of few academic guides devoted to the subject, and is widely published in both academic work and fiction.
Since joining UK Libraries in 2004, Deirdre Scaggs has made an indelible impact across the organization through her many leadership roles. The current associate dean of Research & Discovery Services, she is also director of Archives, director of the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, and project archivist for John C. Wyatt Lexington Herald-Leader Photographs. Scaggs has encouraged experimentation, innovation, and collaboration across the Libraries, and under her leadership the SCRC has modernized its workflows and increased organizational effectiveness and efficiency. Scaggs served as the interim Dean of Libraries from 2017 to 2019. She is the author of multiple books, including Our Rightful Place: A History of Women at the University of Kentucky, 1880-1945, co-authored with Terry Birdwhistell.
Beth Kraemer has worked with UK Libraries since 1999 and her career has been marked by a notable attention to innovative technological trends and a willingness to experiment with new technologies. Kraemer was a leader in UK Libraries’ adoption of Electronic Theses and Dissertations and one of the primary developers of the Libraries’ first website content management system. She boasts a long record of service at the university level, especially with technology-related projects, including a long term as manager and organizer of the UK Virtual World Project. Kraemer served as the chair of UK’s Information Technology Coordinating Committee and helped fulfill the Libraries’ teaching mission by developing an online information literacy course that was made available to all UK students. Kraemer was also fundamental to UK Libraries’ shift to online service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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