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Employees honored for dedication and service

Princeton NJ -- Five University staff members were recognized for their exceptional performance during the annual Service Recognition Luncheon March 2 at Jadwin Gymnasium.

Those honored as recipients of the 2004 President’s Achievement Award were: David Cylinder, technical associate at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab; Jeffrey Graydon, assistant director of facilities in the Department of Athletics; Ronnie Hanley, manager in the Department of Classics; Michael Morris, maintenance supervisor in the facilities department; and Alex Trosko, senior maintenance technician in the facilities department.

Photo of: President Tilghman and winners

President Tilghman (from left) congratulated the winners of the President’s Achievement Award honored at the March 2 luncheon: Jeffrey Graydon, Ronnie Hanley, David Cylinder, Michael Morris and Alex Trosko.

The award was established in 1997 to recognize members of the support and administrative staff with five or more years of service whose dedication, excellent work and special efforts have contributed significantly to the success of their departments and the University. The winners receive a framed certificate and a $2,000 award and have their names inscribed on a plaque that is displayed in the Office of Human Resources.

The President’s Achievement Awards are part of the University’s Staff Recognition Program administered by the Office of Human Resources. Staff members with 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service were presented with a certificate during the luncheon; those with 25 or more years of service also received commemorative gifts. A total of 321 University staff members with a collective 6,080 years of service were honored for their dedication this year (see “By the numbers” on page 2).

In introducing the award winners at the luncheon, President Tilghman said, “One of my most happy tasks as University president is to recognize professional excellence. The President’s Achievement Awards are conferred on employees who have made an outstanding contribution to our University community by using their skills and talents to their fullest. Princeton is blessed with an exceptional staff, which makes the task of the selection committee on which I sit a truly daunting one, but I think you will agree that our five honorees have fully earned their ‘tiger stripes.’”

David Cylinder

Cylinder, who joined the staff in 1980, is well known around the Plasma Physics Lab for his inventive genius. He was the chief technician building the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), which has become one of the most important plasma physics projects in the country. Rob Goldston, director of the lab, has called Cylinder “arguably the world’s most ingenious designer of tiny probes for high-frequency signals in plasmas.”

Cylinder also designs and constructs miniature flying machines using birds, insects and falling seeds as models. His flapping-wing machines can fly, hover and crawl. His work in this area is supported by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has credited Cylinder with creating “an entirely new family of aircraft.”

Cylinder shares his knowledge with a wide circle of students, faculty, researchers and members of the public. He has worked closely with undergraduate and graduate students in the departments of astrophysical sciences and mechanical and aerospace engineering. He also has reached out to school-age students. In her remarks, Tilghman quoted Andrew Post-Zwicker, head of science education at the Plasma Physics Lab: “Dave’s enthusiasm is contagious, his pursuit of excellence is inspiring, his creativity limitless.”

Jeffrey Graydon

Graydon joined the athletics department in 1990 and is legendary for his dedication, high standards and attention to detail. His duties include managing capital projects, ensuring that vendors and contractors neither overcharge nor underperform.

His efforts have resulted in extraordinary savings — from the football practice fields in the 1990s to the newly completed baseball pit. When Princeton Stadium was built, Graydon provided quality control, discovering a problem with the steps in the upper grandstand that saved the University roughly a million dollars and a month of labor. Stadium architect Rafael Viñoly once said, “If God is in the details, Jeff is God!”

Graydon also is considered a master at meeting the facilities needs of diverse constituents, including 38 varsity sports, an almost equal number of club sports and the community at large. “His ‘can do’ attitude as well as his patience, wisdom and creativity have been a critical element in the success of the June Fete, Community Day and the Independence Day fireworks,” Tilghman said. “Employees like Jeff are few and far between.”

Ronnie Hanley

Hanley joined the Princeton staff 20 years ago and, for the last 12 years, has served as the department manager in classics. She has worked with four chairs, including Denis Feeney, the current chair, who said: “She is not just someone who does her job with unfailing efficiency and courtesy, and she is not just someone who takes on extra responsibilities outside her immediate departmental commitments, but she sets a tone of professional and friendly collegiality which helps maintain such an atmosphere at every level of the department’s operation.”

During the recent renovation of East Pyne, Hanley successfully planned and executed the department’s move to and from 58 Prospect Ave. Now back in renovated space, she has assumed a coordinating role within East Pyne, drawing department managers together to discuss matters of common concern, including the ever sensitive subject of space allocation.

“Ronnie brings out the best in the men and women with whom she works by doing her best to support them, whether this means mentoring other staff, serving as the department’s institutional memory, anticipating deadlines or finding the most effective way to achieve collective goals,” Tilghman said, calling Hanley’s presence in the department “one of the keys to its success.”

Michael Morris

Since 1985, Morris has been a member of the Guyot-Moffett Special Facilities Group, a team of multi-talented maintenance workers who ensure that some of Princeton’s most important buildings are kept in top shape. He has headed this group for the past 10 years, earning praise for his diligence and attentiveness.

“We have a tendency, I think, to take the buildings in which we work for granted, assuming that we will always have the light, heat, water and other basic amenities that enable us to function,” Tilghman said. “This complacency is a tribute to maintenance supervisors like Mike, who keep an ever watchful eye on the buildings in their care.”

Morris has developed a very successful automated preventive maintenance program in his department. He also is known for his sensitivity to the unique needs of each of his customers, keeping an eye out for areas in which improvements can be made.

Alex Trosko

For the past 15 years, Trosko has dedicated himself to ensuring that Princeton’s fire and security and access control systems perform the critical functions expected of them. Besides maintaining these systems, he is constantly looking for ways to make improvements, sometimes taking on the project himself despite its technical complexity.

“Alex’s contribution to the newest iteration of central alarm reporting is a case in point,” Tilghman said. “The adoption of this system, which channels detailed information from fire and security alarm panels to computers in the Department of Public Safety, was plagued by data discrepancies, making it difficult for officers to pinpoint the site of an alarm within a building. While solutions were debated, Alex took it on himself to correlate the data for every dormitory, an exacting process that involved more than 15,000 alarm points.” As a result of his initiative, response times were maximized far sooner.

Trosko also has played an instrumental role in the development of access control systems on the campus, designing and installing systems that have greatly enhanced security in both dormitories and administrative buildings.