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Engineering honors two staff members

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 32 - May 30, 1996

Sheila Collins, executive secretary for the the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM), and Diane Patty, administrative assistant for the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, have received the annual College of Engineering staff awards for outstanding contributions and service.

The College Association for Staff in Engineering (CASE) selected Collins as recipient of the Dean's Award and Patty as recipient of the Exemplary Employee Award. Engineering Dean F. William Stephenson presented the awards during the annual CASE luncheon on May 14.

"Excellence is a habit with Sheila Collins," said Kenneth Reifsnider, the Alexander Giacco professor of ESM, in his nomination letter. Collins joined the staff of ESM in 1987 after graduating magna cum laude in secretarial science from New River Community College. In 1989, she became administrative assistant for the department's Materials Response Group, and also served for three years as administrative secretary for the Materials Engineering Science Ph.D. program.

"Sheila knew every student by their first name, was literally on top of their situation in every case, and handled untold details without even one complaint to me by anyone," Reifsnider noted.

"Moreover," he added, "I can say that in my 28 years at Virginia Tech, I have met no one who works harder at professional excellence, friendliness, and decency than Sheila Collins."

Diane Patty came to ChE as executive secretary in 1980. Department head William Conger commented that when he arrived in 1983, "Diane had a handle on what had to be done and during a period of over two years, when there was no regular department head, she essentially held the operation of the departmental office together." Conger cited Patty's continuing contributions to the administration of the department, in helping recruit and monitor the progress of ChE students, and in organizing special department programs and functions.

A letter from the ChE faculty in support of Patty's nomination noted that "Diane's exceptional organization skills and her ability to take on any task with enthusiasm, no matter the difficulty, make her truly indispensable to and valued by all of us."

After receiving the awards, both Collins and Patty thanked their co-workers for their support. "Doing this job is not a one-woman show," Patty commented.