2018 Zeilinger Award winner Audrey Sillers (center) with the EECS Chair, James Demmel (left), and her family

Wil Zeilinger Staff Excellence Award

This prestigious award is presented annually to a staff member of the EECS department or the Engineering Research Support Organization (ERSO) who exemplifies a spirit of service cheerfully given for the general good. The 2018 winner is Audrey Sillers.

The 2019 award nomination period is closed

The 2019 award ceremony will take place at 3 pm on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, in the Wozniak Lounge, Soda Hall

Nomination Guidelines

  • Each faculty, staff, and student nominator must submit their nomination by online form. Although you may organize your nomination as a group, you must each nominate your candidate separately.
  • You must currently work in ERSO Team2 or the EECS Department to nominate a colleague.
  • Nominee's primary office must be in Cory, Soda, or Sutardja Dai Hall.
  • Selection takes place once a year. Previous winners (see below) are not eligible.
  • Nominees must be career staff in EECS or ERSO Team2 and must have provided a sustained level of performance in EECS/ERSO Team2 for a minimum of three years.
  • Nominations can be submitted by all staff in the Department (including managers and supervisors). Eligible nominees may include management as well.
  • You may nominate one candidate per year.
  • Previous winners may not be nominated again.
  • It is most meaningful to specify how the staff member has performed with excellence and what she or he has done in the spirit of "service cheerfully given for the general good" as an individual. The nomination must show in what way the nominee has made an outstanding contribution to the department.
  • Receipt of nominations from our three groups (staff, students and faculty) reflect a greater balance in favor of the nominee. However, if the nominee has no specific contact with any particular group, this balance is not applicable. Questions may be directed to the Award Administrator (staff-award@eecs.berkeley.edu).
  • Special consideration is given if the nominee has participated in activities that help the larger EECS/ERSO Team2 community, not just the nominee's immediate group.
  • Since sustained excellence over a period of time is an important criterion, a nominee's position can be strengthened by re-nomination in subsequent years.
  • The Award Administrator will direct copies of all nominations to the award committee. The committee will scrutinize each nomination carefully and submit their vote. The Award Administrator may vote.
  • Consideration is given to total length of service, so if two candidates are considered to be closely comparable, preference would be given to the person who has sustained his or her service excellence for the longest period of time.
  • This award is not an election-type where the person with the most nominations is automatically selected. However, multiple quality nominations can make a nominee's case stronger.





Audrey Sillers


Angie Abbatecola


Shirley Salanio


Jessica Gamble


Lars Rohrbach


Heather Levien


Rosita Alvarez-Croft


Fred Archibald


Marilyn Kushner


Gladys Khoury


Ferenc Kovac


Maggie Crowley


Benjamin Lake


Gus Monino


Ruth Gjerde and Eleta Cook


Xiao-Fan Meng


Margie Berger


James Parrish


Mary Byrnes


Tom Boot


Kevin Mullally


Phil Guillory


Rosemary Spivey


Linda Pratt


Terry Lessard Smith


Robert Hamilton


Genevieve Thiebaut

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.