Published: Tue Oct 31, 2006Four Tennessee Tech University employees — Gary Bradford, Lydia Kendall, Wanda Maxwell, Joyce Sims — recently received recognition for their skills, attitude and dedication to the university.
As the recipients of the 2006 Outstanding Staff Awards, each received praise from colleagues, supervisors and students.
The Outstanding Staff Awards program was established in 1989 to show appreciation to TTU’s most outstanding clerical and support staff. Awards are based on job performance, attitude toward work and the university, attendance and perseverance, professional development and suggestions for improvement.
For the past 10 years, Gary Bradford has served as a media specialist, sound engineer and technician in the Media Center of the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library, where his service and dedication have helped earn the facility a reputation for quality and improvement, say university officials.
“I don’t hesitate to ask for his help because he is so accommodating,” said Alice Camuti, director of Career Services at TTU. “He’s an excellent representative of the university because he’s committed to do whatever it takes to help out his fellow employees and the students.”
Ali T. Alouani, professor of electrical and computer engineering, agreed, saying, “I strongly believe that with limited means, Mr. Bradford is doing a great job telling the world about TTU — and he is doing so with pride.”
Having worked at the university for 19 years, Telecommunications’ Kevin Thompson said he’s seen many changes on campus — one of the most positive of which is a transformation since Bradford’s arrival at the Media Center and completion of a multimedia studio.
“There has never been a time when I’ve called on Gary for help that he’s not made himself available. He has always been very professional and willing to tackle any task with vigor and attention to detail,” he said.
Patricia McGee, coordinator of media services, said Bradford has been instrumental in his work on the studio, as well as an upgrade of the group viewing and presentation room. Both projects, she said, are critical to the function of the Media Center.
“Gary performs his job with both efficiency and enthusiasm,” she said. “Not only can he be counted on to do whatever is asked in a timely manner, he is also very creative in devising solutions for complex problems and in suggesting ways to make the operation of the Media Center more efficient. He’s always cheerfully willing to go the extra bit to resolve any glitches that we have in our equipment or in our systems.”
Lydia Kendall has served as secretary for TTU’s Academic Development Program since February 2002. Before that, she was a secretary for an externally funded Rural Education position — and university representatives say she went above and beyond her duties in both posts.
“Lydia is the glue that holds the office together. She fills many and all roles the department needs her to play, and she is the secretary every department needs,” said Allison Tirjan, a senior at TTU.
“She’s one of the reasons I’ve excelled at TTU,” Tirjan continued. “I think she’s achieved the highest success a person can — making a difference in the lives of students — and I hope she can be recognized for her hard work and dedication.”
Janet Whitaker, coordinator of the university’s ADP, said Kendall is a dedicated professional who takes pride in a job well done.
Some of Kendall’s accomplishments, Whitaker said, include efficiently supervising the department’s budget; purchasing snacks (with her own money) for the office and baking and cooking for faculty and tutor meetings; reorganizing the office’s lab so that the facility is better organized and user-friendly than before; and serving as the “unofficial information center” for students, faculty and office personnel.
Margaret Phelps, director of Rural Education at TTU, describes Kendall as “an outstanding employee who went far above and beyond the job description,” which helped make the temporary project they worked together on as “one of the most successful externally funded projects I have been associated with.”
When Kendall moved from Phelps’ office to Academic Development, Phelps said, “I was thrilled for her to move from the temporary position to a permanent one — for she had certainly earned it — but I was sorry to lose her.”
Wanda Maxwell has worked as a secretary in TTU’s chemistry department since 1995, and she quickly established herself — although beyond her job description — as the department’s ‘web master’ and provider of hospitality, especially to international students coming here for the first time.
“Wanda has consistently furthered her professional development. This has included becoming more knowledgeable in dealing with budgets and budgetary planning, as well as learning the newest technologies in web design,” said Jeff O. Boles, chairperson of TTU’s chemistry department.
“As a matter of fact, in order to become more proficient as a web master, she has taken courses at TTU for credit in web design and computer programming. This past year, Wanda designed a totally new web site for the department of chemistry, which we launched this past summer,” he continued.
Eugene Kline, chemistry professor and pre-professional health sciences advisor, describes her as an extraordinarily quick learner.
“Wanda has been here for many years and has become a real strength within the department,” he said. “She is a team player. She is particularly good at sensing when things absolutely need to be done, and she can do them or make sure that it gets done somehow.”
Chemistry department officials also point out that she took the initiative a few years ago to create a welcome packet to help answer questions specifically for the incoming international students.
“Beyond her work ethic, Wanda has such a great sense of humor. Very seldom will you leave the chemistry department without a smile on your face,” said Billy Sells, technology specialist in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Joyce Sims is more than a custodian in the Marshall and White residence hall buildings — she’s also a friend, mentor and mother to many of the students who live there.
“You would be amazed at the behavior of students in my building,” said Nick Patton, hall director. “The guys in my building will hold a door open for a lady, clean up a mess they’ve made or even clean up someone else’s mess. Very strange behavior for a bunch of freshman and sophomore guys living in a residence hall — but the root of this phenomenon is Joyce.”
When Patton himself had to have his wisdom teeth removed, Sims brought him homemade soup during his recovery.
“Basically, Joyce is the heart beating in Marshall and White Halls,” he continued. “There isn’t a soul here who she has not touched in some positive way.”
Marc Burnett, vice president of Student Affairs, agreed, saying, “Her willingness to give advice, lend a hand or be a foster parent has — on numerous occasions — positively enhanced the lives of students living in our residence halls. Moreover, she works diligently within the halls to ensure that an appropriate residential decorum is maintained.”
Cindy Tate, Sims’ supervisor, said, “Her job performance is at the top of the scale, and she is dedicated to her work. She is my relief when I have to be away from the job. With her 25 years of experience at TTU, she is very knowledgeable of her job requirements and performance.”
Custodian Gloria Anderson agreed with Tate, saying, “Joyce takes great pride in her job and also in Tennessee Tech. Her building shows it, and her personality shows it, too. She’s been working here for more than 25 years and that speaks of her loyalty.”