Six Princeton staff members were recognized for their commitment to excellence and exceptional performance during the University's annual Service Recognition Luncheon on March 16 in Jadwin Gymnasium. In addition, two staff members were honored for their leadership potential.
Those honored as recipients of the President's Achievement Award were: Kathleen Applegate, Department of Mathematics; Lynn Durgin, University Library; Eileen Fowler, Department of Molecular Biology; Duncan Harrison Sr., Department of Public Safety; Matthew Parker, Department of Economics; and Brenda Wood, Campus Dining, University Services.
The award was established in 1997 to recognize members of the support and administrative staffs 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 received a framed certificate and a $2,500 award and their names are inscribed on a plaque displayed in the Office of Human Resources. The President's Achievement Award is part of the University's Staff Recognition Program administered by the Office of Human Resources.
Staff members with 50, 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 15 and 10 years of service were honored during the luncheon; those with 25 or more years of service also received commemorative gifts. Some employees shared their thoughts about working at Princeton in the video "Heart of Princeton: Our Employees' Perspectives." A total of 404 University staff members with a collective 7,515 years of service were honored for their dedication this year (see "By the numbers" at right and watch the full ceremony on Media Central).
Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber recognized both the award recipients and the long-serving staff members, praising their dedication, work ethic and loyalty. He concluded by stating, "Your commitment to this University is truly inspiring — and I thank you, again, for all that you do." What follows are excerpts from his remarks.
Applegate spent 15 years in the Office of the General Counsel, the Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA), and the Program in Teacher Preparation before she became manager of the Department of Mathematics in 2012. She has had an enormous impact on every aspect of the department. Faculty and staff in mathematics praise Applegate's multifaceted expertise in keeping operations running at peak performance; her morale-boosting combination of professionalism and kindness; and her commitment to ensuring that all of her staff members are challenged and gratified by their work. David Gabai, chair of the department and the Hughes-Rogers Professor of Mathematics, said, "Kathy has the phenomenal ability to bring out the best in people, due in large part to her honesty, authenticity and generosity of spirit." Faculty assistant Will Crow added, "Kathy understands that our first job as staff at Princeton is to advance its teaching and research activities, and she instills in the staff not just this mission, but also a pride in fulfilling it." Applegate's dedication extends beyond her home department — she has long been active in the campus-wide Academic Managers Group, which honored her with its Leadership Award in 2007; she has led staff training sessions through Human Resources; and she has volunteered her time for activities such as the Special Olympics and holiday charity drives.
Durgin, special collections assistant at the Mudd Manuscript Library since 2008, is one of the most dedicated caretakers of Princeton's story. In a typical year, she assists more than 250 patrons with requests for information from Mudd's collections, and helps scores of University personnel with archiving academic and administrative records. She is unfailingly persistent and helpful in handling these important duties, earning the gratitude and esteem of Mudd's patrons and her colleagues in the library and across campus. In one of her most significant contributions, Durgin has been a leader in key initiatives to digitize collections of doctoral dissertations and senior theses. These were large, complex endeavors that involved close collaboration with colleagues in multiple campus departments as well as an outside vendor, and they resulted in higher use of the collections and reduced cost for students. University Archivist Dan Linke said Durgin's "dedication to excellence" brought these benefits to fruition, noting, "She is an intelligent, creative and conscientious employee who is comfortable not only with adapting to change, but implementing change and helping others transition through the changes."
Fowler, in the Department of Molecular Biology, is the linchpin of the massive efforts involved in helping faculty obtain and manage their research grants. The department's grants manager since 2007, Fowler oversees 150 to 200 new applications per year, supervises a team of four assistant grants managers, and provides vital support for a department of more than 30 faculty members. She handles her complex and demanding duties with exceptional attention to detail, remarkable commitment and a demeanor that is — according to Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology and department chair Bonnie Bassler — "gentle and perfectly professional." Fowler's work has become even more critical and challenging in recent years, as government research funding has diminished, compliance regulations have changed, and faculty have needed to apply to more agencies and foundations for support. She also is a valued colleague and role model for others across campus who are involved in grants management. Marcia Black, assistant director for grants and contracts in the Office of Research and Project Administration, said, "Eileen's strong leadership is complemented by her appreciation of others' views and always having a kind word after a difficult day or situation. She inspires all of us to bring our 'A' game."
Harrison gets the call when — as happened this fall — the Dalai Lama and former President Jimmy Carter and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan agree to visit the Princeton campus. A 31-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety, Harrison has served for the past 10 years as associate director of support services. In this multifaceted role, he coordinates security for special events with visiting dignitaries, collaborating with many individuals and departments across campus, along with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. He handles athletic events and annual events such as Reunions and Commencement, oversees the Detective Bureau and the Art Museum and Firestone Library security teams, and coordinates our Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. Harrison manages all of these responsibilities with a profound commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our campus community members, and with a peerless sense of teamwork. He is "an exceptional community caretaker, trusted adviser and campus leader," according to Executive Vice President Treby Williams and Executive Director of Public Safety Paul Ominsky, who said: "Everyone knows Duncan, and Duncan knows everyone — staff, alumni and faculty. Duncan is a friendly face who always has a word of encouragement or sage advice for those in need of assistance. … Duncan lives the University motto of service."
Parker, a technical support analyst and manager who serves faculty, graduate students and staff of the Department of Economics and several associated research centers and programs, is in high demand. Harvey Rosen, the John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics and Business Policy and one of 60 faculty members in the department, said that Parker's ability to help self-professed "technophobes" and "computer aficionados" alike is evidence of his "absolutely indispensable contribution" to the department. Rosen said: "Whether one's question is how to deal with an appearance of the 'blue screen of death,' which new laptop to buy, how to combat the latest virus going around, or how to get one's scanner working, Matt virtually always knows the answer. In the few cases when he can't solve the problem immediately … he does the research to find a solution." Parker is also a leader in the campus computing support community, overseeing a committee that researches and recommends information security technologies, and helping to plan conferences designed to raise awareness about security issues among staff, faculty and students. As Barbara Radvany, the economics department manager, said, "Matt's dedication to his job, compassion for people and ability to juggle several projects at once, while consistently exceeding expectations with his results, make the economics department and Princeton University a better place."
Wood started working in Campus Dining while still in high school, and 25 years later she serves as the event sales manager for the department. In this role, she has a full menu of responsibilities — managing the daily catering and customer service functions and serving as the main point of contact for all catering clients. In the last fiscal year, the Campus Dining catering team handled about 3,500 events, from small lunches to huge dinners. Wood's colleagues in Dining Services and across campus appreciate her strong communication skills and marvel at her ability to take the pressure out of organizing events large and small. Laurie Bellero, the office manager in Corporate and Foundation Relations, said, "While event planning can be quite nerve-wracking, I know I can always count on Brenda to not only complete our request with the utmost professionalism, but she goes out of her way to be proactive, and [she] anticipates our needs. … Brenda's efforts make my job easier knowing I can always count on her." She consistently receives similar feedback from clients, according to Andrew Fleischer, director of retail and catering operations, who said, "Brenda exemplifies superior customer service, and performs with honesty and integrity in a very fast-paced, stressful environment. … Brenda is the ideal employee."
Griffin Management Award
In addition to the President's Achievement Award winners, two staff members were honored as recipients of the Donald Griffin '23 Management Award. They were: Christeen Griffiths of Campus Dining, University Services, and Glynis Sherard of Finance and Treasury. The award was established to honor Griffin — a 1923 alumnus who served as the longtime secretary and general secretary of Princeton's Alumni Council — through a gift from his son James, a 1955 alumnus; his granddaughter, Barbara Griffin Cole, a 1982 alumna; and her husband, Chris Cole, a 1981 alumnus. The award is given by the Office of Human Resources to recognize administrators who would like to develop their leadership and management skills. The winners receive a grant of up to $2,500 to participate in professional activities scheduled within the next year to provide new insights and perspectives, renew motivation and/or enhance skills applicable to their current responsibilities.
Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, vice president for Human Resources, spoke about each Griffin Award recipient, and excerpts of her remarks follow.
Griffiths has been working for Campus Dining since 1992 and currently is a sous chef at Butler/Wilson College. In her nomination, Griffiths' supervisor, Brad Ortega, the chef manager at Butler/Wilson, wrote, "I believe Christeen would be an excellent candidate for the Griffin award. She is a very strong manager whose skill and demeanor have enabled a higher standard to exist in our workplace." Executive Director Smitha Haneef added that Griffiths is someone who "demonstrates the core values of Campus Dining by providing a deep respect to her team, sharing a passion for food and valuing continuous learning." In receiving the Griffin Award, Griffiths will be able to attend a four-day course called the "Techniques of Healthy Cooking Boot Camp" in New Hyde Park, New York, at The Culinary Institute of America. The program will teach new techniques, alternative seasonings and nutritional principles that will enhance Campus Dining's culinary selections.
Sherard has worked in Sponsored Research Accounting since 2009. She began as an analyst and was promoted recently to be the director. Controller Ken Molinaro described Sherard in his nomination as someone who "has accomplished much in a relatively short period of time, exceeding expectations for a new director." She developed key relationships with campus grant administrators, led training sessions, and managed the transition to the new Prime system and grant suite of modules. Through the Griffin Award, Sherard will attend a two-day training program called the Grants Management Body of Knowledge, which is offered by the National Grants Management Association in Arlington, Virginia. The course will prepare her for a credentialing exam.