Longtime Staff Celebrate Their ‘Legacy at GW’

University staff recognized for years of service with ceremonies and words of thanks from GW leadership.

2018 Career Milestone Carolyn Ross
From left to right: GW President Thomas LeBlanc, Carolyn Ross and Laurie Koehler, ESE senior vice provost, attended the 2018 GW Career Milestones luncheon. (William Atkins/GW Today)
December 07, 2018

By Tatyana Hopkins

When Carolyn Ross began working as a typing clerk in the George Washington University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions in 1968, there was no Microsoft Word or online applications.

Ms. Ross and her colleagues manually opened, sorted and filed each application and accompanying documents such as transcripts and recommendation letters, generated and mailed admission decision packets and designed and printed informational pamphlets.

“We just as they say, ‘rolled [our] sleeves up,’ and got the work done,” Ms. Ross said.

She said that thankfully, back then the university was getting “way less” than the 27,000 applications for admission it gets today.

Ms. Ross and about 450 other long-serving employees were honored at the 2018 Career Milestone Awards ceremonies held last week.

GW staff who served five, 10 and 15 years marked their milestones with a ceremony followed by a reception in the Marvin Center on Monday. Those with 20 years or more of service celebrated in the Marvin Center Tuesday.

Ms. Ross, with 50 years working at GW, was the longest serving employee to be honored this year.

When Ms. Ross first came to GW, she took over a position her cousin had held in the admissions office before leaving to work for a law firm. While her cousin changed jobs almost every two years, she has been able to shape her role in the office for five decades.

“When people ask me about being here 50 years, I say that I can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s a bit unreal.”

GW President Thomas LeBlanc said he was humbled by Ms. Ross’ longtime service and was thankful for the years of dedication other staffers have given to the university during the lunch event honoring those who have been working with GW for 20 years of more.

“Every day, every one of you helps write our collective GW story—who we are, what we stand for, what we’re proud of and how we serve,” Dr. Leblanc said. “Your dedication to GW defines, not only our next chapter, but also the university’s legacy.”

Employees were asked to stand and be recognized for their commitment to GW. University leaders—including the provost and vice presidents from various divisions--reminded them of the popular movies, songs and cultural events that were happening when they joined the university. Provost Forrest Maltzman, who celebrated his 25-year milestone, recognized those celebrating 15 years at GW, reminding honorees that in 2003, Starbucks introduced its pumpkin spice flavored drinks, the human genome project was completed and iTunes was launched.

“Since that time, the university has changed,” Dr. Maltzman said.

He said the university has added nearly a dozen buildings, grown enrollment by 20 percent, increased its graduation rate, expanded its online programming and developed “booming” research.

“By almost every indicator, the university is doing well, and we couldn’t do that without you and all of your efforts,” he said.

Duane Watts, a sergeant with the GW Police Department, said the university’s “footprint” has gotten larger since he began as a patrol officer 15 years ago. He said in addition to new patrol boundaries and responsibilities, security measures and technology have also changed.

“We used to manually lock all the buildings,” Mr. Watts said. “We went to every building with a physical key and locked the door. Now, it’s an electronic process.”

However, he said, one thing that has not changed is the university’s sense of community. 

 “I love this place,” Mr. Watts said. “I've been here for a while, and I can't see myself anywhere else.”   

Although the employees honored work in departments across the university, Dr. LeBlanc said together they help advance the university’s goals.

“You can see how far we've come,” he said. “Each milestone in your careers has been a chapter in our shared history. What's up next is up to all of us.”

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