By B.L. Wilson
The George Washington University honored on Thursday and Friday career milestones of staff, feted with a full course buffet, champagne toasts, gold pins and strains of pop tunes performed by the four-string quartet, the Cherry Blossoms.
The occasion were the two annual Career Milestone celebrations in the Grand Ballroom of the University Student Center for staff who have served GW for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years—an acknowledgement of every five-year milestone achieved.
Sabrina Minor, human resources vice president for human resources and chief people officer, praised the group and noted that “each of you has contributed in a particular way in our community.”
“I know this because I’ve actually seen it,” Minor said. “We see the contributions you are providing to faculty, staff and, absolutely, to our students. This is why we are celebrating this career milestone. It’s about looking back and looking at the work you have done in service.”
More than 85 staff, their guests, several university deans and vice presidents, including Aristide Collins Jr., GW vice president, chief of staff and university secretary, and Christopher Alan Bracey, GW provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, attended the luncheon celebration.
GW President Mark S. Wrighton addressed the employees, noting that much had changed since many staff members started working at the university.
“We have individuals celebrating 40 years,” Wrighton said. “When you go back 35 years, think about the world. Facebook didn’t exist. Google didn’t exist. In fact, you couldn’t conveniently do email. So, the world has changed a lot, but what has not changed is the importance of human interaction at an educational institution.
“What really makes a great university would be its people,” he continued. “When I think about the students we serve, you are key to a great experience that those students have. I am now from time to time interacting with both alumni and parents of current or former students and those individuals reflect so favorably on the experience that students have had.”
Wrighton offered a toast to the commitment that all those who have worked with GW for more than two decades at the Thursday celebration. “Thank you very much to our honorees,” he said to a chorus of “Here, here.”
This year, Julie Perry, who works for Safety and Facilities Housekeeping Services, was recognized as a long serving staff member with 40 years as was Joyce Whitmore, Serials and Electronic Resources in Libraries and Academic Innovation.
Those who had worked at GW for more than 20 years said they were, indeed, struck by the transformation the university has undergone during their time as employees. Devra Robinson, an executive coordinator of faculty affairs at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said that what has kept her at GW is, “the people, working with the people. Everybody is so pleasant and committed to teamwork.”
Heidi Krause-Steinrauf, a clinical researcher and the lead biostatistician and manager at the Biostatistics Center in Rockville, Maryland, has worked at GW 20 years. “I’ve done exciting research on the development of new clinical guidelines that has had impact on treatment of diabetes,” she said. “It has been an exciting place to work.
Krause-Steinrauf was seated at a table with David Browne and his wife, Brenda. Brown has worked at GW for 25 years. He began as a senior clerk and worked his way up to “supervisor of facilities and supplies,” he said. “I never thought I’d be here for 25 years, but here I am, and I’m glad I am. It’s a great organization. Great people.”
Geneva Henry, vice provost for libraries and information technology and dean of libraries and academic innovation, marveled at the staff she works with, like her finance director, Regina Mays, who started 30 years ago, and others whose employment spans a similar stretch.
She pointed out Shirley Chang, who started out as a temporary worker restoring books at Gelman Library and became a copy cataloguer. “Technology changed so much,” she said, explaining how with additional training, 25 years later, she works as a data analyst in Libraries and Academic Innovation.
“Our staff,” Henry said, “are excellent.”