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PRESIDENT'S AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE

M. Jason Glover

By Clara B. Cox

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 28 - April 18, 1996

Every time patrons of Newman Library locate the materials they seek in the stacks, they owe a special thanks to M. Jason Glover, head of the shelving unit.

During the past year, Glover adopted a team-management approach in working with 50-60 students to shelve more than a million volumes quickly and efficiently and followed TQM methods and philosophies to plan and execute the move of the library's stored materials from Cheds to the new storage facility. For his success with these projects and others, Glover has been recognized with a Presidential Award of Excellence.

"One of the major complaints of users had been the atrocious state of our open stacks. Huge backlogs of volumes waiting to be shelved, uncoordinated systems, lackadaisical supervision of student shelvers, and the disorder of call numbers had led to chaos in the stacks. Finding known items was an adventure. Only those with persistence and patience left with what they wanted," said Linda Richardson, interim head of User Services.

But Glover changed all of that, she wrote in a letter supporting his nomination for the award. "This situation has been miraculously solved through shelving-process improvements under Jason's initiative. Because shelving our material forms one of the basic systems that supports almost everything else the library does, the improvement has been noticeable.

Further, she said, "Mr. Glover's attention to major shelf-reading-making sure our materials are in the correct order-of the entire building has been accomplished for the first time in over five years."

Glover's coworkers credit his teamwork approach and his openness to suggestions with improving both operations and morale. "We scrapped the traditional hierarchy and developed a program incorporating the use of team leaders. This allowed students to accept some of the responsibility of the hour-by-hour operation of the unit. This proved to be an exceptionally successful venture. The simple fact that the students had some input into their jobs dramatically improved the work environment," said Christopher Peters, who works with Glover.

Irene Glennon, an associate professor in the library, who nominated Glover for the President's Award, cited his work in moving the library's stored materials: "Jason swung into action and organized a gargantuan effort to measure the Cheds collection, size the collection for boxes, prepare a staffing plan, create an accurate budget, and flowchart the entire move process."

During his work, Glennon said, he saved 25 percent of the storage space in the new facility by proposing a more appropriate box size, and under his supervision, "this project was completed before the deadline while remaining under budget."

Glover also created the Shelving Process Review and Tracking Software to measure proficiency. "Never before has the shelving unit been able to provide statistical data to measure time and cost of reshelving material. We now have a baseline to aid in measuring continuous improvement," Glennon said.

Glover, she added, "is a superlative employee."

Brenda Holden

By Nancy Templeman

Brenda E. Holden will receive the President's Award for Excellence at Founder's Day ceremonies. The award is being presented for her exceptional performance as a family-and-consumer-sciences (FCS) Extension agent in Northampton County on the Eastern Shore.

"Brenda is an obvious model of what Virginia Tech can accomplish for poor, rural communities-or any community-through its outreach and Extension programs," said Joe Adams of the Institute for Community Resource Development at Virginia Tech.

"She helps Virginia Tech fulfill its land-grant mission of taking the knowledge, skills, and expertise of the university into the community to address its real needs. She does this with such measurable success--far above the normal expectations of a person in her position," he said.

"In the seven and a half years she has been with Virginia Cooperative Extension in Northampton County, Brenda has achieved what many peers never achieve in a career. She is an individual who truly understands the educational process. She identifies a need, and programs individually or collaboratively to address the issue, resulting in positive change," said Dorothy McCargo Freeman, who is a 4-H specialist at Virginia Tech.

"Ms. Holden is unique in that she recognized early in her tenure on the Eastern Shore that unless she worked to deal with the core causes of the existing poverty, the education she had to offer would have limited benefit. She developed coalitions to attack the problems of jobs, housing, and child care. Her ability to think and act strategically and enlist others to do so has greatly increased the Eastern Shore's ability to respond to its own problems. She has brought good will for Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia Tech. Because of her efforts and the efforts of others she has enlisted in the battle, the Eastern Shore has more jobs and more child-care slots so parents can work the jobs that are becoming available. There is less substandard housing, and housing units for lower-income families have increased. The educational programming she provides for families and youth help them make decisions that will better their economic and social well being," says Judy Burtner, of J. Burtner and Associates, Glen Allen.

"I have had the privilege of working with Brenda on a number of specific projects related to economic development and tourism," said J. Douglas McAlister, executive director of Public Service Programs, University Outreach and International Programs. "Thanks to her leadership, the Eastern Shore has been named one of the very few Enterprise Zones in the United States. This means that funding in the amount of almost $3 million has been made available to develop her rural, somewhat isolated community. She is far above her peers in leadership, measurable achievements, community presence, and commitment of her time and talent. Through her tireless work and documented achievements, she has distinguished herself as one of the best Extension agents in not just the commonwealth, but in the nation."

Norma Lawson

By Matthew Winston

"If I could make one statement, it would be that I have been able to give back to this university as much as I've received," said Norma Lawson, 1996 President's Award for Excellence Recipient.

Lawson has spent the last 16 years as an enrollment and student-services coordinator in Virginia Tech's Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Her major responsibilities have shifted to implementing and managing the Federal Direct Student Loan program, which allows the university to directly process student loan funds without having to go through intermediary agencies.

"This new system gives us more control, which is very important to our mission of serving the students," said Lawson. "We have been able to eliminate many of the problems associated with the handling of funds by so many entities. If a student has a problem, we know where to find the answer, whereas before the problem could have existed in any number of places."

Providing a service to students is Lawson's favorite part of her job. She serves as a financial counselor to many students and says that she gets the most satisfaction from her interaction with Virginia Tech students. She says her goal in life is to "make a difference."

Lawson's dedication and service have not gone unappreciated by her supervisors and co-workers. They describe her as hard-working and one who always puts her job, peers, and the students before anything else.

Scholarship and Financial Aid Director Julie Sina said she asked Lawson to implement the Direct Loan Program and credits Norma with the successful transition. She said Lawson worked 14 hour days, six days per week during summer 1995, training and setting up the program. "Norma got the job done through perseverance, excellent diplomatic skills and with NO increase in staff or budget."

"If she knows a student cannot make an appointment to see her during regular business hours, she is willing to see students after 5 p.m. or before 8 a.m.," said her supervisor, Assistant Director Zelma Harris. "She is one of the first staff members at work, and usually the last to leave. She does not put in extra hours because she has to, but because she chooses to. Her work ethic is peerless."

Fellow financial aid counselor Tony Sutphin calls Lawson a "team player" who takes on extra office responsibilities above and beyond her scheduled counseling duties. "She strives to offer more than the job description asked and is willing to give 110 percent for office success," Sutphin said.

Doug Sheppard

By John Ashby

Surplus Property Manager Doug Sheppard has been described as "an activist who believes in the value of his work, and sees a direct connection between what he does and the improvement of the university."

That statement by W. Thomas Kaloupek, director of materials management, is one of many endorsements of Sheppard, who is a recipient of the President's Award for Excellence.

Kaloupek said, "He finds value in what others have no further use for. I have been totally impressed with his enthusiasm, willingness to be flexible and consider new ideas."

Sheppard has been manager of the surplus-property operation at the university since 1989. He is responsible for processing more than 4,000 surplus-property items annually. The items are offered to the university community for redistribution, then sold at public auction.

Purchase and stores Director Minoo Damanpour said Sheppard's efforts have made the surplus-property operation "highly efficient. In fiscal year 1995, Doug organized five public auctions, which produced net revenue of $220,378. The full cost to the university to operate the surplus-property function was $45,652. Therefore, he produced positive net revenue of $174,726. Clearly, in these times of financial austerity, this is a positive success story."

Damanpour also noted Sheppard's efforts in redistributing surplus items within the university community. "In fiscal year 1995," she wrote, "over a thousand items were `recycled' by Doug; finding new workplace homes and renewed use."

Ray Dessy of the chemistry department cited Sheppard in a note of appreciation for taking extra effort to locate a specific computer, which he is now using, according to Damanpour. "Dr. Dessy recognized that this avoided a sizable expenditure as compared to having to purchase new equipment. This speaks to the other `hidden' value of a proactive surplus operation which is responsive to customer needs," Damanpour wrote.

Ray Smoot, vice president for finance and treasurer, said of Sheppard, "Doug's overall performance in his management of the surplus-property function sets the highest standard for excellence. This is documented by criteria related to both financial performance, customer-service consistency, and an overall positive effect in support of the university. As we seek to use the tools of restructuring and total quality management, the achievements of the surplus-property function set a high performance standard for other support operations to emulate."

Kaloupek sums up Sheppard's achievements this way: "My belief is that the President's Award for Excellence is one avenue to bring forward and underline the importance of basic services that are so important to producing a quality university. The receipt of this award by Doug Sheppard will be applauded by people at all levels within the university who have benefited from his service."

Mary Jane Thompson

By Lynn Davis

A 19-year veteran executive secretary has captured one of the five President's Awards for Excellence. Mary Jane Thompson, who keeps the food science and technology department cooking on all burners, gets to work even when no one else can on the snow days.

During one blizzard she was one of few employees who reported to work, despite her car being buried in snow. She walked out to the main part of town to catch a ride to her office to assist a professor in completing his grant proposal that was due in Washington, D.C., the next day. Although she was not his secretary, she knew the proposal was due and realized that as department head secretary she had a responsibility to the department, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the university.

"To be honest, when she arrived, I had given up all hope that the proposal could be completed and transmitted," George Flick said. "I had decided that the opportunity for funding was a permanent loss. But Mary Jane worked continuously through lunch and breaks until the grant was finished.

"She helped me get the copies made for the Office of Sponsored Programs and took my proposal to the U.S. Post Office for overnight delivery."

The grant was funded and even renewed the following year. "Mary Jane was a hero in my book," Flick declared. "Not only does she recognize the economic importance of grant awards to the university, in countless other ways she is truly an exceptional employee who is extraordinarily dedicated to Virginia Tech and its educational mission. She always volunteers to help make Tech a special place."

Cameron Hackney, department head, added, "Mary Jane does far more than normally expected of a departmental secretary. She organizes all our receptions and saves the department considerable money. For graduation, she even prepares the food herself."

Bill Eigel, former interim department head, said Thompson had served four department heads and two interims. "Through the various changes, she has been the consistent influence whose contributions have allowed the department to effectively service students as well as the citizens of the commonwealth," Eigel said.

"She is always willing to make that additional effort for anyone, even though it might mean that she will work evenings or weekends or be otherwise inconvenienced," he continued.

Thompson attended VCU and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.