Roughly 11,000 people work to ensure the George Washington University runs well. And on Thursday, the university community came together for the annual Service Excellence Celebration to recognize several of those faculty and staff who have gone above and beyond their job descriptions.
“This event reminds us year after year that we could not do any of the things that we accomplish as a university—teaching, research, contributions we make to the nation and to the world beyond—we couldn’t do any of that without the dedication of our staff, our faculty and our students,” George Washington President Steven Knapp told a standing-room-only crowd in the Marvin Center’s Grand Ballroom.
The university received more than 600 nominations this year in five award categories: Collaborative Initiative Award, Departmental Excellence Award, Service Excellence Award for Student-Staff Member, Service Excellence Award for Staff and Service Excellence Award for Faculty. Sabrina Ellis, vice president for human resources, said nominees and recipients are “people who have fire in your belly for what you do” and who exemplify the university’s values of learning, communication, community, respect, diversity, sustainability, teamwork, service and excellence.
The award categories and their winners:
Collaborative Initiative Award
Three teams won this award. The first team included those who—in what was “truly a campus-wide effort”—worked to bring the “memorable and historic” Clinton Global Initiative University to campus, said presenter Mike Morsberger, vice president for development and alumni relations. Another winner was the Sustainability 1001 Teaching Team, made up of faculty from several schools who worked to create the introductory course in the new sustainability minor, who serve as an “exemplary model” of teamwork, learning and collaboration, Mr. Morsberger said. The final winner was the Team that Saved Matthew’s Life, a group of staff members from across the university who saved the life of a student last year and “deserve our eternal gratitude” for their proactive nature in averting what could have been a “catastrophic” ending, Mr. Morsberger said.
Departmental Excellence Award
The two winners in this category play vital roles in the university community and go “above and beyond,” said presenter Aristide Collins Jr., vice president and secretary of the university. Colonial Community was one winner. Presenter Leo Chalupa, vice president for research, said the team in human resources promotes “teamwork and a true community atmosphere at our university.” Naval Sciences also won the award. Dr. Chalupa said the department strives to develop midshipmen “mentally, morally and physically with the highest ideals of duty and loyalty,” hosts seminars that engage the Pentagon and Capitol Hill and has an impact that “expands far beyond our home in Foggy Bottom to across the world through the support of the men and women in our armed forces.”
Service Excellence Award for Student-Staff Member
People are often surprised to learn that Stephen DiGiuseppe is a student worker in Facilities Services because of his high level of dedication and professionalism, making him a deserving recipient of this award, said presenter Beth Nolan, senior vice president and general counsel. Mr. DiGiuseppe has accomplished much both in and out of the classroom, Ms. Nolan said. Similarly, Peter Sacco, who also won the award, has gone “above and beyond in both his service to the on-campus population and the broader community” in his role as a member of house staff in the Center for Student Engagement, Ms. Nolan said. He has worked “tirelessly” to support transfer students and make them feel welcome. And he goes out of his way to make the lives of those around him better.
Service Excellence Award for Faculty
“Great organizations are much more than people simply doing their job in the way their job description reads,” Provost Steven Lerman said before presenting this pair of awards. “Doing our job here means being part of a larger community.”
That rings true for Mary Buckley, associate professor of dance, whom Dr. Lerman said devotes herself to her students, making creative classroom experiences, mentoring students and helping them find their passions and spending time outside of class with them. Ms. Buckley has also contributed to the growth and success of the Women’s Leadership Program, Dr. Lerman added. Roy Guenther, executive associate dean in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, also “regularly goes out of his way” to help colleagues and students. Described as careful, deliberate and proactive, Dr. Guenther shows commitment and care for everyone in the university community.
Service Excellence Award for Staff
Four staff members were deserving of this award, said presenter Lorraine Voles, vice president for external relations, who described what nominators noted about the winners. Hank Molinengo, an associate dean for administrative affairs at Law School, is an “unsung hero,” Ms. Voles said, who is a great problem-solver and “best of the best” when it comes to being a team player. Imran Riaz, assistant director of outreach and prevention at the University Counseling Center, is a well-respected colleague and clinician who works “tirelessly” to ensure students’ needs are met. Described as an “anchor” at the center, his positivity is something “we should all strive to emulate,” Ms. Voles said. Another winner, Douglas Spengel, energy and environmental manager in Facilities Services, is an “essential team member” who has spearheaded hundreds of projects to help the university be more conscious of resource conservation and environmental awareness, Ms. Voles added. Finally, Maggie Wilson, senior director in alumni relations, plays an integral role in engaging with the alumni community, especially in D.C. and New York, and is a responsive, open and proactive employee who values her work and the work of those around her, Ms. Voles said.
This year marked the 11th annual Service Excellence Celebration, which has grown to become a university-wide event that recognizes individuals, departments and partnerships that go above and beyond in their service to the George Washington community.