Four Angelo State University staff members – Brittney Miller, Christopher Houston, Thomas Jones and Mark Rehm – have earned the 2020-21 President’s Awards for Staff Excellence, and another – Paul Hamilton – has received the annual Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award for Execution.
The honorees were recognized during an awards ceremony May 20 on campus. The President’s Awards for Staff Excellence recipients were selected from over 50 nominees, and the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award honoree was chosen from 15 nominees. The four Staff Excellence Award recipients each received a $1,000 honorarium and a presentation piece, while the Rowan Award winner received a $1,500 honorarium.
Brittney Miller, assistant director of marketing in the Office of Communications and Marketing, received the President’s Award for Commitment to Excellence. Lauded for her integrity as a marketer, ability as a writer and technical expertise, Miller was honored for “elevating ASU to new heights” through her execution of the university’s social media strategy. She is also committed to professional development and providing training opportunities to her colleagues across the campus, including brown bag sessions for new website administrators and coaching for new social media managers. She is credited with improving campus safety communications during inclement weather and other emergencies, and particularly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She wrote messaging for countless emails and led the team that produced numerous videos to keep the campus informed of the latest developments and emergency information. Perhaps most of all, she was honored for her work on the redesign of the ASU website. She wrote all the content for the admissions process and student life pages, giving ASU “a clear digital voice that breaks through the noise of our competitors.” From her nomination letter, “What you know about Angelo State and how you think about Angelo State are in a huge part due to Brittney Miller. Brittney’s commitment to excellence is the reason we can show our community and our world how Angelo State is excellent.”
Christopher Houston, MBA academic assistant advisor in the Norris-Vincent College of Business, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Innovation. Lauded for being “a bright and distinguished staff member who possesses great character, integrity and dedication,” Houston sets the tone for the services provided to students through the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and beyond. He also displays exemplary attention to detail, patience and knowledge of university policies that apply to the academic advising process. He is a “star example” of customer service, and he spearheaded the initiative to streamline the MBA degree plan form signature process by implementing an all-electronic method. That allowed for heightened efficiency and helped manage his department’s growth in enrollment. From his nomination letter, “Every student I have spoken with speaks very highly of Chris and is extremely complimentary of how they felt he went above and beyond the call of duty for them. Chris is extremely dependable and always makes himself available to others, his integrity is unmatched, and he may be the most-liked staff member in the Norris-Vincent College of Business.”
Thomas Jones, manager of VA benefits in the VETS Center, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Customer Service. Hailed for being a “master of multi-tasking” and “always with a smile,” Jones is fondly known as “Zod” to his students and staff. As a former first-generation student who has used VA benefits, he knows exactly what ASU’s veteran, military and related students need, and has modified office procedures to ensure those needs are filled. When the VETS Center experienced a surge in telephone contacts, he developed a new logging process and coached student workers to ensure all queries and issues were quickly and thoroughly answered. When COVID-19 sent most of the campus to work and learn online, Jones determined that the VETS Center needed to instead expand its hours of operation to ensure students stayed connected to their classwork. He also initiated a new “Wall of Fame” in the VETS Center and volunteered his photography skills to produce formal graduation pictures of military-related graduates to frame for display. His dedication is a key factor in ASU’s military-related student support services being ranked among the Top 10 in the U.S. for large public schools. From his nomination letter, “Thomas has gone the extra mile to truly support, encourage and inspire students…he draws on his military leadership training to mentor student workers with spectacular results…and he personifies excellence in customer service in all that he does for ASU.”
Mark Rehm, director of ASU Counseling Services, received the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. Lauded for his foresight and caring nature, Rehm was honored for going “above and beyond” to make sure every student that calls, emails and walks in to Counseling Services is seen and “receives top-notch care and service.” Even before it was official university policy, he implemented social distancing in his office to keep students and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also implemented tele-counseling, giving students the opportunity to phone in for counseling or have a counseling session online via WebEx. He assisted student retention by continuing to help keep students motivated and focused on completing their education, despite all the pressures related to the pandemic. Even when meeting in person was not possible, he provided activities for students, faculty and staff, including mindfulness meditation and various artistic endeavors. From his nomination letter, “Two words to summarize Mr. Rehm, HE CARES. He cares deeply for his staff and his students. Counseling Services saw its highest numbers ever this year, and Mr. Rehm stepped up to serve and meet all their needs.”
Paul Hamilton, assistant director of operations in the Office of Housing and Residential Programs, received the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award for Execution, which annually recognizes a staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in carrying out a major project during the last academic year.
In spring 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was about to hit our area, a partnership was proposed between ASU and Goodfellow Air Force Base to house military students in an ASU residence hall to alleviate overcrowding in the base dormitories. It was the first project of its kind between the military and a public university, and Hamilton quickly took the lead of the working group, mapping out a strategy for implementation. He identified all the varied working parts of the project, identified areas of need, coordinated staff from a diverse group of ASU offices across campus, and ensured deadlines were met. He also prepared a fiscal report outlining the potential revenue ASU could generate, as well as the annual savings of over $1.5 million for the military, if the partnership was implemented. When COVID-19 safety protocols were put in place, Hamilton continued to coordinate site visits and online meetings to broker a comprehensive housing policy for the safety of ASU and military students. By early fall 2020, he had paved the way for 110 military students to arrive on campus, resulting in increased revenue for ASU at a time when the university’s budget was reeling from the pandemic. From his nomination letter, “He most certainly executed the seemingly impossible task of getting all the logistics in place for the first-ever housing agreement in the nation between the Department of Defense and a university – a true win/win for ASU, the Air Force and taxpayers!”
Other nominees for the President’s Award for Commitment to Excellence were: Annette Perez, Development and Alumni Relations; Bradley Petty, Student Affairs; Britany Hernandez, Freshman College; Christine Burrell, Information Technology; Christopher Houston, Norris-Vincent College of Business; Courtney Wilson, Registrar; Elizabeth Randell, College of Graduate Studies and Research; Jackie Droll, Information Technology; Jennifer Fischer, Communications and Marketing; Michelle Seay, Aerospace Studies/ROTC; Melisa Canales, Information Technology; Phillip Nichelson, Affiliated Military and Veteran Services; Poly Riddle, Registrar; Sandy Conoly, College of Education; and Teresa Adams, Information Technology.
Other nominees for Excellence in Innovation were: Amanda Martinez, College of Graduate Studies and Research; Bruce Flage, Central Receiving/Supply; Chad Harris, Registrar; Damon Zak, Information Technology; Daniel Martinez, College of Education; David Erickson, Small Business Development Center; Elicia Rankin, Purchasing and Operations; Joshua Torres, OneCard and Parking Services; and Lanell Nichols, Contracting and Materials Management.
Other nominees for Excellence in Customer Service were: Alma Valdez, Political Science and Philosophy; Angela Allen, College of Graduate Studies and Research; Brittany Smith, College of Graduate Studies and Research; Brooke Flores, Admissions; Christian Salamina, Information Technology; Christopher Houston, Norris-Vincent College of Business; Debra Blair, Mathematics; Heather McDonald, Registrar; Joyce Mechelle Grooms-Reed, Freshman College; Kailee Malleck, Special Events Facilities and Services; Meagan Word, College of Education; Rebekah Brackin, Communications and Marketing; Robin Sebolt, Payroll Services; Scheurer Greenlief, Human Resources; Stacey Sauer, Physical Therapy; Teresa Adams, Information Technology; Thinh Nguyen, College of Education; Troy Hill, Athletics; Vickie Rodriguez, Scholarship Programs; and Victor Chhuor, Information Technology.
Other nominees for Excellence in Leadership were: Chelsea Renteria, College of Graduate Studies and Research; Chris Steele, Information Technology; David Erickson, Small Business Development Center; Elicia Rankin, Purchasing and Operations; Jeff Sefcik, Enrollment Management; Kurtis Neal, Human Resources; Rebekah Brackin, Communications and Marketing; Reid Jackson, University Recreation; and Tanner Bryant, Information Technology.
Other nominees for the Chancellor’s Colonel Rowan Award were: Britany Hernandez, Freshman College; Bruce Flage, Central Receiving/Supply; Christina van Ittersum, College of Arts and Humanities; Dan Robertson, University Recreation; Elaine Beach, Information Technology; Jackie Baxter, Controller’s Office; Katie Plum, College of Graduate Studies and Research; Keith Hoelscher, Financial Aid; Kevin Pepper, Development and Alumni Relations; Mandy Osborne, Curriculum and Instruction; Rebekah Brackin, Communications and Marketing; Sandra Fuentes, Psychology and Sociology; Susan Williams, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; and Wendy Sklenarik, College of Education.