Left to right: Wil Zeilinger (grandson), Jean Nguyen, and Christel Zeilinger

Wil Zeilinger Staff Excellence Award

This prestigious award is presented annually to a staff member of Berkeley EECS or the Engineering Research Support Organization (ERSO) who exemplifies a spirit of service cheerfully given for the general good.

Submit a nomination

The 2024 nomination period is open

Please review the award guidelines and submit your nomination using this form:  Zeilinger Nomination 2024The nomination deadline is Friday, August 2, 2024.

Every year, the EECS/ERSO Team 2 community recognizes and celebrates a staff member who has served with excellence for more than three years and who exemplifies a spirit of service cheerfully given for the general good.  The award comes with a framed certificate and a cash prize, and the winner is unveiled and feted at an annual event.

The EECS Wil Zeilinger Staff Excellence Award was established in 1992 to honor the memory of  Wil Zeilinger, Cory Hall’s first department engineer.  Wil oversaw a number of building projects for the expanding department in the 1970s and ’80s, and took the initiative to implement model safety and energy-savings programs.  He was known for his fairness, objectivity, and a desire to achieve the best possible outcome–and he always gave his time and energy wherever they were needed most to further the general good.

The ceremony will take place in October 2024 at the Wozniak Lounge in Soda Hall.


Year Recipient(s) Affil.
2023 Jean Nguyen EECS CSA
2022 Roxana Infante ERSO BAIR/BDD
2021 Jean Richter EECS Admin
2020 Josephine Williamson EECS Admin
2019 Ming Wong EECS ESG
2018 Audrey Sillers EECS CSA
2017 Angie Abbatecola ERSO BAIR/BDD
2016 Shirley Salanio EECS CSA
2015 Jessica Gamble ERSO TRUST
2014 Lars Rohrbach EECS IRIS
2013 Heather Levien EECS Admin
2012 Rosita Alvarez-Croft ERSO PATH
2011 Fred Archibald EECS IRIS
2010 Marilyn Kushner ERSO Micro/Nanolab
2009 Gladys Khoury ERSO CHESS
2008 Ferenc Kovac EECS ESG
2007 Magdalene Crowley EECS ACG
2006 Benjamin Lake ERSO Machine Shop
2005 Gus Monino ERL/ERSO Tech
2004 Ruth Gjerde and Eleta Cook EECS CSA/Admin
2003 Xiao-Fan Meng ERL Microlab
2002 Margie Berger ERL Admin
2001 James Parrish ERL Microlab
2000 Mary Byrnes EECS CSA
1999 Tom Boot ERL BWRC
1998 Kevin Mullally EECS ISG
1997 Phil Guillory ERL Microlab
1996 Rosemary Spivey ERL Microlab
1995 Linda Pratt ERL Admin
1994 Terry Lessard Smith ERL NOW
1993 Robert Hamilton ERL Microlab
1992 Genevieve Thiebaut EECS CSA

Wil Zeilinger


Wil Zeilinger emigrated from his native war-ravaged Europe to the United States in the mid 1950’s. He never forgot his Austrian roots, but his heart and soul were filled with pride for his adopted homeland, which sent him back across the Atlantic (in the U. S. Army) shortly after his arrival in the Bay Area. While on service duty, Wil met and courted his lifelong love, Christel, bringing her from her native Germany to set up their home and ultimately, to rise their two sons, Mark and Scott, in California.

Wil had been educated in mechanical engineering, machinery design and fabrication at the technical school in Graz, Austria. In 1958, after using this training for a short time at a private firm in Berkeley, he joined the staff of the EECS Department at the University of California. Wil advanced steadily through the job rankings from his initial position as a Senior Lab Mechanician until, 16 years later, he had become the Senior Superintendent of the EECS Mechanical Shop.

In the 1960s and 70s, EECS at Berkeley was growing rapidly in personnel, facilities, and complexity. To manage this growth effectively, it became apparent that new procedures were necessary. Specifically, there needed to be an engineer in charge of the technical facilities and operations in the department. Those working with him knew that Wil was the person who could most effectively handle that job, and in 1974 he was appointed Cory Hall’s first Department Engineer just in time to confront two important construction projects: building the architecturally unique student meeting room that was made possible by a gift from the Joseph Moore family, and extending the first-floor mezzanine over a complex research laboratory. Wil carried these projects out with the “can-do” spirit that soon became his trademark. Responsible for the physical operation of Cory Hall from the mid 1970s, Wil helped to transform the building to keep ahead of the complex needs imposed by the fast-changing technology of EECS. He was guided always by a desire to achieve the best possible outcome and gave of his time and energies whatever was needed to further the general good. Two major challenges met by Wil were the complete reconstruction of the 4th-floor Microlab in the early 1980s and the addition of the 5th floor shortly thereafter. Wil thrived on complicated and challenging projects and was known for his knack in cutting through red tape, finding funding, and getting past myriads of detail in order to accomplish his well-considered goals.

Wil instituted a model safety program in Cory Hall, and set up disaster procedures. He implemented an energy-saving program that has resulted in campus savings of over $100,000 annually. As Department Engineer, Wil handled administration matters for the entire Cory Hall technical staff. His fairness and even-handed judgment in these matters has been praised by many who worked with him. In 1991, shortly after his health had begun to decline as a result of a tragic brain infection that followed an injury on the job, Wil was awarded the Berkeley Citation for his outstanding service and loyalty to the campus. He was justly proud of receiving this highest honor bestowed by the Berkeley campus.

Away from his work, Wil had a deep love for nature and spent many happy hours in the high Sierra. From his youthful days as a racer and instructor in the Alps, Wil carried great skill and enthusiasm for skiing to the mountains of California. He gave freely of his time and talent to further the aims of goodly fellowship with nature through his organization, The Nature Friends of California. He served in several high offices in this organization as did his wife Christel. He loved river rafting and the thrill of daring nature in fun-filled competition. He smiled easily and was always ready to share a funny story. He lives on in the hearts of many who knew him– his work and his love for his fellow man are his most fitting monuments.

Nomination Guidelines


  • Must be a member of the EECS department or have a primary affiliation with EECS as a member of ERSO Team2
  • Must be a member of one of these three groups:
    1. Faculty (including emeriti)
    2. Students
    3. Staff (including managers and supervisors)
  • May nominate one candidate per year.

Other things to know:

  • The nomination period is open.
  • The Awards Committee is comprised solely of previous winners of the award.
  • Selection takes place once a year.
  • Questions may be directed to the Award Administrator: staff-award@eecs.berkeley.edu

Your Candidate:

  • Must be career staff in EECS or ERSO Team2 with a primary affiliation in EECS.  All managers at all levels are eligible.
  • Must have provided a sustained level of performance in EECS/ERSO Team2 for a minimum of THREE years
  • Must have a primary office in Cory, Soda, Sutardja Dai Hall, or BWW (i.e. associated with the EECS Department)
  • May NOT be a previous winner

Previous winners who are no longer eligible include:

Roxana Infante
Angie Abbatecola
Maggie Crowley
Jessica Gamble
Ben Lake
Heather Levien
Gus Monino
Lars Rohrbach
Shirley Salanio
Audrey Sillers
Ming Wong
Josephine Williamson
Jean Richter
Jean Nguyen

Tips for nominating a winning candidate:

  • DO find other people who might also want to nominate your candidate and encourage them to participate! Each person must nominate the candidate separately, using their own words.
  • DO encourage nominations from a variety of people.  Candidates who are nominated by people in all three groups (staff, students and faculty) are viewed more favorably.  However, if the candidate does not come into specific contact with a particular group during the performance of their job, it will not be held against them.
  • DO put some time and thought into your submission. A nomination containing one or two sentences does not carry much weight.
  • DO specify:
    • how the nominee has performed with excellence
    • what they have done in the spirit of service cheerfully given for the general good as an individual.
    • in what way they have made an outstanding contribution to the department over a sustained period of time
  • DO specify if the nominee has participated in activities that help the larger EECS/ERSO Team2 community, not just the nominee’s immediate group.
  • DO submit a nomination for your candidate regardless of whether you are aware of any other colleagues who are supporting them. Since sustained excellence over a period of time is an important criterion, your candidate may have been nominated in previous years and may have a stronger case than you think. In addition, a candidate’s position will be strengthened by your nomination in the future if they are nominated in subsequent years.
  • DO NOT copy and paste similar responses or they will cancel each other out.
  • DO NOT try to coerce your colleagues into nominating your candidate. Multiple quality nominations will make a nominee’s case much stronger, but this award is NOT a popularity contest and only the person with the best nomination letters will win.