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Operating Staff announces award recipients

May 13, 2010

Four members of NIU’s Operating Staff have been chosen to receive the Outstanding Service Award for 2010.

The recipients are Marcia Dick, a senior library specialist in the Reference Department of the University Libraries; Jennifer Gregory, office support specialist in the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders; Lee Ann Henry, administrative assistant in University Advancement; and Lenita Hepker, administrative assistant in the Office of the Dean of the College of Business.

More than 1,700 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 6, banquet.

Here is a closer look at the recipients.

Marcia Dick
Senior Library Specialist, University Libraries

Marcia Dick

Students with disabilities have a true friend in Marcia Dick.

Dick is the coordinator of services for students with disabilities at Founders Memorial Library; it was her innovation to hire undergraduates with hearing, visual and other impairments to staff the Information Desk.

She manages Room 102, home to many kinds of assistive technology, where she helps students with disabilities to conduct online searches. Her work on a Center for Access-Ability Resources grant resulted in nearly $10,000 worth of computers and software for the library’s new assistive technology room.

When Dick spoke about academic success to CAAR students, she put a name and face to the library’s special services and decreased the group’s hesitancy to use those programs.

In 2000, she won the Clogston Spirit Award for advocacy for persons with disabilities.

Meanwhile, her creative scheduling and willingness to expand her many duties helped the library to weather the economic storm. She serves on library committees, the Operating Staff Council, the Athletic Board and the Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities.

“Generally, a senior library specialist has a task-oriented position, and Marcia’s is no exception,” library colleague Sharon Campbell says. “It is Marcia who has taken it from being a task-oriented position to one of commitment to library excellence, passion for mentoring the students she supervises and concern for library patrons of all ages.”

Dick, who joined NIU in 1986, is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a volunteer with the Barb City Manor garden walk and a participant in the local cancer walk.

Jennifer Gregory
Office Support Specialist, School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders

Jennifer Gregory

In a school where students train for careers in health care, Jennifer Gregory prescribes the course schedule, runs triage for students and faculty in need and performs wizard-like first aid on office machines.

Her service with a smile – always current, always accurate – makes her the first person anyone contacts for help. The phrase “I don’t know” is not in her vocabulary.

Gregory makes time to support every student who visits the school’s main office, showing genuine compassion and concern when they are anxious and upset about admissions, scheduling conflicts and grades.

“She takes time that she doesn’t really have to offer comfort, support and the type of assistance these students need to calm down and resolve the issues,” says Sherrill Morris, an associate professor in the school. “She never tells anyone she doesn’t have time, even when she should.”

When faculty bring complaints, such as classrooms lacking computers or environments conducive to effective teaching and learning, the nine-year NIU employee goes beyond her job description to fix those problems.

Her commitment to the school extends to the Communicative Disorders Student Association, for which she helps students reserve rooms.

She also handles a multitude of logistics for the school’s annual certificate training programs on deafness and deaf-blindness. During those events, her extra-mile attitude has taken eyeglasses for repair, picked up medication for a guide dog with a skin allergy and obtained kosher food.

In her hometown of Rochelle, she is involved with Special Olympics and a supporter of the Girl Scouts.

Lee Ann Henry
Administrative Assistant, University Advancement

Lee Ann Henry

Lee Ann Henry’s colleagues have a nickname for her: Oz. As in “The Wizard of …”

Also known as the division’s glue and the first and best source of information, Henry handles numerous responsibilities as administrative assistant to Vice President Michael P. Malone with ease and professionalism.

Her key role in the complex preparations for transporting hundreds of top donors to recent bowl games made her victorious with those constituents.

She also is happy to make the needs, problems and questions of others her priority, no matter if the task is stuffing holiday cards or wrapping presents.

“Lee Ann is the type of person who doesn’t just tell people who they need to call for the answer; she tracks down the answer for them,” advancement colleague Diane Johnson says. “If asked for directions somewhere, Lee Ann won’t simply tell you how to get there. She will be walking beside you, making sure you reach your destination.”

As the university’s liaison to the NIU Annuitants Association, Henry maintains membership records for 1,250 retirees, 405 current employees and 152 spouses/partners. She recruits new members, processes their applications and interacts on the group’s behalf with NIU’s payroll department and the State Universities Annuitants Association.

The 14-year employee also served on the Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities and was a member of the Feb. 14 memorial committee.

In her hometown of Rochelle, she’s active with the Ogle County Hospice Society and the local MS society, organizing a team of walkers called “Henry’s Heroes.”

Lenita Hepker
Administrative Assistant, College of Business

Lenita Hepker

Among 139 employees and nearly 4,000 students in NIU’s College of Business, Lenita Hepker wears many crowns.

The go-to person. The most-trusted person. The person who is caring, organized, creative and tireless. The mentor. The true leader. The center of the college’s community and culture.

“As dean of a large college, I must be very careful who I confide in, yet I often need someone to share with and get advice from,” Dean Denise Schoenbachler says. “Lenita has become one of very few people I can trust 100 percent. I trust her above most anyone else. I also have learned that she has amazing insight into people and problems.”

Hepker has created a culture of professionalism in the dean’s office, building and maintaining good relationships across campus.

An NIU employee since 1997, she’s always happy to take on extra administrative duties. She cheerfully joined the college’s Strategic Action Group to “break down silos” between departments, organizing research breakfasts for faculty and creating (and continuing to produce) a “face of the week” e-mail newsletter.

Hepker manages meetings of the College of Business Board of Executive Advisors and the dean’s Student Advisory Board and supports students in the Business Careers House.

She also is proud to provide a voice for staff through membership on NIU’s Administrative Professionals Advisory Council.

In her hometown of Sycamore, Hepker is active with Sycamore United Methodist Church and Kiwanis. She also served many years with DeKalb County 4-H, the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival and as a “Big Sister.”