Operating Staff announces Outstanding Service Award recipients

Logo of the Operating Staff CouncilFour members of NIU’s Operating Staff have been chosen to receive the Outstanding Service Award for 2014.

The recipients are Lisa Clark, routing supervisor, Physical Plant; Amy Deegan, office support specialist, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center; Patricia Lee, office support specialist, Campus Recreation; and Liz Wright, administrative assistant in the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships.

About 1,650 employees make up the Civil Service staff. Each year, four are selected by a committee of their peers to receive the award of plaques and $1,500. They will be honored at a Thursday, May 8, banquet.

Here is a closer look at the recipients.

Lisa Clark

Lisa Clark

Lisa Clark
Routing supervisor, Physical Plant

Whether the trouble is inaccessible restrooms in Altgeld Hall, a deteriorating stairwell in Graham Hall or other urgent jobs for carpenters, electricians or plumbers, NIU staff know how to dial the maintenance equivalent of “911.”

Quick! Get Lisa Clark on the phone!

“When our facilities are in need, we call 753-1471 and hear the calm, clear voice of Lisa Clark on the other end,” says Tita Kaus, administrator in the Office of the Dean in the NIU College of Law.

“Maintaining our facilities for the comfort and safety of our students, faculty and staff is of the utmost importance. Learning and productivity is enhanced when students and staff are comfortable,” Kaus adds. “Lisa Clark is vital and pivotal to the team that delivers those services.”

Called “conscientious,” “friendly” and a “valuable resource,” the 30-year employee is praised for patience, kindness, an uncommon level of professionalism and a “can-do” attitude. Her responsiveness on the Physical Plant’s work order desk is “immediate.”

“She is truly a role model for NIU employees,” says Betsy Hull, assistant to the dean in the College of Education. “If her attitude and work ethic could be duplicated in every employee, our NIU community would be a much different environment.”

Away from work, Clark serves St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Mary’s School in DeKalb as a classroom volunteer, fundraiser and Eucharistic minister who soon will take communion to parishioners who are unable to attend mass. She and her husband also help prepare and deliver meals to Hope Haven.

Amy Deegan

Amy Deegan

Amy Deegan
Office support specialist
Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

Mention Amy Deegan’s name, and for those who know her, it’s hard not to immediately think of her profound love for dogs – Newfoundlands, especially.

She supports animal rescue groups, meets regularly with other Newfoundland owners and was among those who assisted the therapy dogs on campus after Feb. 14, 2008, and their return in 2009.

That passion for four- and two-legged friends is equaled by her devotion to the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, where she has worked since 2000.

Beyond her single-handed management of all routine office tasks, Deegan handles registration for the center’s frequent training programs that enroll thousands of participants annually – numbers that have quadrupled since her arrival.

Annual training for new faculty and graduate assistants puts Deegan on the welcoming committee, always giving a friendly impression of campus. On days of major programs, she comes in early, works through lunch and leaves late.

Colleagues and clients applaud her “infectious enthusiasm and excitement” as she patiently answers questions and provides more information on workshops or other center functions.

She happily goes “above and beyond,” even if it means climbing the three flights of stairs back to her office after she’s already begun the afternoon walk to her car.

“Amy has received numerous offers from other units at NIU,” says boss Murali Krishnamurthi, associate provost for Academic Technologies and Faculty Development, “but she declined those offers to remain in her current position because of her loyalty to Faculty Development and her enthusiasm for helping faculty, staff and teaching assistants.”

Patricia Lee

Patricia Lee

Patricia Lee
Office support specialist, Campus Recreation

When it comes to operations in Campus Recreation, Patricia Lee wrote the book. Literally.

Necessity is the mother of invention: No written procedures were available on her first day five years ago.

“As Patty began to become familiar with her role with Campus Recreation, she quickly assessed that there was a need for better written processes in regard to policies and procedures for such vital systems as payroll, online registrations, cash handling, OneCard access and personnel hiring,” Associate Director Dave Lochbaum says.

“Patty’s written instructions and manuals are precise, detailed and, most importantly, easy to understand.”

Lee also plays an active and integral role in the creation and implementation of new processes, such as the online registration for Rec members.

“Patty took the time to learn the system and brought up issues as she discovered them,” says Director of Campus Recreation Sandi Carlisle. “Not only did Ms. Lee identify problems, but she worked with the Information Technology staff to create solutions.”

An NIU employee for 13 years – the first eight with Housing & Dining – Lee is a hard-working role model and mentor who is “kind, big-hearted, professional, knowledgeable, service-oriented and fun.”

She trains Rec employees in procedures and later offers “honest and tactful” suggestions on making positive changes while she challenges herself to grow professionally. Lee also cheerfully helps her department with extra activities, including RecFest and the Homecoming 5K.

Off the job, she teaches Sunday school at First Baptist Church of Genoa and volunteers with the church’s Awana program.

Liz Wright

Liz Wright

Liz Wright
Administrative assistant
Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships

NIU can thank Liz Wright for Lisa Freeman’s decision to join as vice president for research.

“Within minutes of meeting Liz Wright, it was evident to me that her positive energy, her can-do attitude and her infectious enthusiasm generate the positive workplace culture in the division,” Freeman says.

“Liz leads by example and also inspires others to strive for excellence. She works hard but is never too busy to support a colleague or to assist a student. Liz smiles and rolls up her sleeves where others might just grimace and wring their hands.”

The interim provost has only improved her first impression of Wright, known to colleagues as a “diamond” shining with workplace passion and generosity: “Liz’s optimism, creativity and willingness to go above and beyond have allowed the Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships to expand its service.”

An employee for nine years, Wright launched development and implementation of a paperless process for submission and review of NIU’s Research and Artistry Grants.

Wright coordinates the Presidential Research Professors selection process and, over the last several months, played a significant role organizing and executing the Bold Futures workshops.

“She fully understands why we are here,” says Ron Walters, strategic initiatives adviser in the Office of the President, “why the future of each student and the institution itself depends on our eagerness to embrace and lead change.”

Away from work, Wright volunteers for the Cathedral of Praise Youth Group, the We Care Pregnancy Clinic and her daughter’s Sycamore Fury girls’ basketball team.

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