Both an individual staff member and a team of staff received 2003 Excellence in Staff Service Awards from the College of Engineering. Business Manager Margie Lesser was the individual recipient, and the team award went to Warren Eaton, Bill Kirkpatrick, and Kent Pruss, Senior Engineering Technicians in ME’s Walter E. Lay Automotive Laboratory Instrument Shop.
The award program was established as part of a comprehensive initiative to recognize the vital contributions by staff to the CoE’s success and prominence as one of the nation’s premier engineering institutions. Awards, which are based on exemplary work and/or special achievements, serve as tangible evidence of the CoE’s appreciation of its outstanding staff members.
This year’s awards continue the tradition of excellence set by ME employees. Last year, ME Administrative Manager Marcy Brighton received the individual award.
Margie Lesser joined ME in July 2000 as Business Manager, but she has worked at the university since 1988. Her primary responsibilities include overseeing ME’s finances and grant activities and helping in the planning, development and implementation of department policies and programs. She also assists and advises Brighton regarding fiscal and operational issues, helps prepare the budget, monitors ME’s financial status and activities for compliance, and approves expenditures. Equally important, she supervises the financial staff and makes sure they have the training and tools they need to perform their jobs.
In presenting the award, CoE Dean Stephen W. Director referred to Lesser’s superior leadership skills. He acknowledged her work with both staff and faculty, while noting that by improving her team and operations, Lesser has met the critical needs of faculty and improved communication between faculty and staff. “Through her tremendous leadership skills,” Director said, “Margie has had a significant impact on an important unit, a large department and the College’s overall direction.”
The Dean also quoted from several of the many letters he received supporting Lesser’s nomination. One supporter wrote, “I have observed her change the tone of a group from ‘this can’t be done’ to ‘this can work’ just by her calm, logical approach to problem solving. No matter how pressured and hectic the environment might be, Margie has a positive attitude that is reflected in the way she interacts with those around her. This same demeanor has often changed a potentially volatile situation to a manageable one.”
One of Lesser’s staff members put it succinctly, saying, “With her ‘can do’ attitude, sharp focus and trademark upbeat personality, Margie is the type of leader that a hard working staff willingly follows.”
Carole Groh, one of Lesser’s staff and the person who coordinated the nomination, said her supervisor’s tireless efforts and enthusiasm make ME more efficient and productive. “Margie is very proactive in her staff’s professional development. She is very deserving of this award.”
In acknowledging the honor, Lesser said: “I’m honored to receive this award. It is very rewarding to be recognized for my efforts and also very humbling. I am very big on staff development and teamwork, and I owe much of my success to my staff and co-workers both in Mechanical Engineering and the College. This award means my work is appreciated and that my staff appreciate me, and more importantly, it gives Mechanical Engineering the recognition it deserves.”
Warren Eaton, Bill Kirkpatrick and Kent Pruss were nominated for the team award by Supervisor of Technician Staff Lynn Buege. The award reflects, in part, a team or group that actively pooled its skills, talents and knowledge, with evidence of each member’s contributions and mutual support of each other.
Buege nominated the team because of their exemplary work in picking up the challenge of maintaining productivity while a key colleague was off on an extended sick leave. Buege also credited Jim Morgan, a retired machinist from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, for his work supporting the team.
In nominating the three technicians, Buege pointed to their unreserved willingness to help out wherever and whenever needed to make sure that faculty and students receive assistance. For example, the team points with pride to their work constructing a nine-inch water tunnel for the department (see complete story about water tunnel on page XX). In addition, they often provide support to other departments, sharing facilities, manpower and resources, as they do in their ongoing support to the Solid State Electronics Computer Laboratory. It’s precisely this spirit of collegiality and cooperation that the Excellence in Staff Service award was designed to recognize.
“These individuals demonstrated exceptional effort when a member of the staff had to be away,” said Buege. “There were quite a few people who needed their assistance, and working as a team, they came through. We’re proud of their work.”
Housed in ME, the Instrument Shop’s main charge is to support ME and college-wide research and students, and it was this responsibility that Director focused on in making the presentation. One faculty member’s letter of support stated, “In the hundreds of encounters with this team, there has not been a single case where we, the staff, students, or faculty, have had anything but a professional and positive outcome to our requests. They do quality work with a short response time, which helps our research efforts greatly. Their constant attitude appears to be ‘What is the right thing to do for the college, the department and the user of the facilities?'”
As might be expected from dedicated professionals, the recipients were modest about receiving the award. “I was amazed,” said Pruss. “I don’t think we did anything remarkable,” a thought echoed by both Eaton and Kirkpatrick.
“We were just doing what we do,” said Kirkpatrick.