Operating Staff announces quartet of recipients of annual Outstanding Service Awards for 2013

Four members of NIU’s Operating Staff have been chosen to receive the Outstanding Service Award for 2013.

The recipients are Sharon Freeman, lead secretary, Academic Advising Center; Shyree M. Sanan, business/administrative associate in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies; Steve Sarver, administrative assistant in the Office of Development; and Scott Walstrom, senior photographer in Media Services.

About 1,635 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 9, banquet.

Here is a closer look at the recipients.

Sharon Freeman
Lead secretary, Academic Advising Center

Sharon Freeman
Sharon Freeman

Imagine meeting more than 20,000 people each year. Sharon Freeman knows exactly what that’s like.

As the receptionist in the NIU Office of Admissions, Freeman often was the first point of contact for prospective students and their families as well as for current students, faculty and others having business on campus.

Freeman also worked on the front lines during several Open House events, making sure that “sometimes stressful check-in and bus tour changes” operated successfully.

“She greeted each visitor with warmth, respect and professionalism,” says Bob Burk, retired director of admissions. “Visitors often singled out Sharon with glowing comments on our feedback surveys. She created the kind of first impression that is so important in creating a positive image of NIU.”

That special calling continues at the Academic Advising Center, which Freeman joined in fall 2011 as lead secretary.

“Sharon has surpassed all of our expectations with her attention to detail, dedication, professional demeanor and eagerness to serve students,” says Jonathon Ferguson, academic adviser. “Her kind and welcoming nature comforts these students as they embark on developing their academic and personal goals.”

Colleagues praise her confident and cheerful approach to her responsibilities as well as her ability to perform beyond expectations and willingness to “go the extra mile” when needed.

Away from the job, Freeman consistently donates clothes and other goods to the DeKalb Goodwill store to support struggling families. She also paid for one NIU student’s travel package to cheer on the Huskies at the Orange Bowl in January.

Shyree M. Sanan
Business/administrative associate, Division of Research and Graduate Studies

Shyree M. Sanan
Shyree M. Sanan

Staff in NIU’s Division of Research and Graduate Studies, like those across campus, are tackling the challenge “to do more with less” during difficult fiscal times.

Fortunately, this division counts Shyree M. Sanan and her “heart to serve” among its employees.

“Shyree has played a major role in developing innovative divisional strategies and structures that support efficiency without compromising productivity and stakeholder service,” says Lisa C. Freeman, vice president for Research and Graduate Studies. “The division … could not function effectively without Shyree Sanan. Her value cannot be overstated.”

“She has been the epitome of helpfulness,” adds Clyde Kimball, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus. “Shyree is always cordial – a wonderful characteristic for one handling so many diverse responsibilities – always helpful and always prompt.”

Colleagues praise her “quiet, efficient and professional demeanor” as well as her “skill, imagination, creativity and the deep-seated motivation to overcome problems.”

In her main role as business manager for the division, she helped to balance a once-in-the-red budget and interacts regularly with every department and college.

Sanan also provides personnel support to the Graduate School, Sponsored Projects, the Office of Research Compliance and several centers, institutes and external grants. She also serves as treasurer for the NIU Research Foundation.

Away from her job, she serves on the NIU Affirmative Action and Diversity Resource Committee. Locally, she is an active member of her church, where she is a member of the Altar Committee, secretary of the Ladies Ministry and co-leader of the Power of Two Marriage Ministry.

Steve Sarver
Administrative assistant, Office of Development

Steve Sarver
Steve Sarver

Steve Sarver gets along well with technology.

Within days of joining the Division of University Advancement, Sarver saved his new colleagues hours of work by computerizing reports that previously were prepared manually.

He also designs websites and is the division’s resident expert in creating PowerPoint presentations.

“At NIU Foundation Chair Dennis Barsema’s suggestion, we recently moved to an all-digital format for all our board meetings,” says Michael P. Malone, vice president for University Advancement. “Steve Sarver is the person I asked to take the lead in making this happen, and our board is delighted with the results.”

Sarver communicates directly with donors on the “grunt work” of their financial associations with the university. He also helps to coordinate NIU Foundation trips to football games, giving donors first-class experiences that build Huskie pride.

Colleagues call him smart, fast, accurate and “the ultimate go-to guy.”

“Steve’s organizational skills are excellent, allowing him to keep many projects moving forward simultaneously without dropping the ball,” says Alberta Solfisburg, director of Development Operations and Campaign Initiatives. “I have not yet seen a task which he cannot do.”

Sarver is proud of his 35-year commitment to the Boy Scouts of America.

After earning the Eagle Scout Award, he has taken on leadership roles, helping establishing a new Cub Scout pack in Kirkland and serving as co-chair for his hometown troop’s 50th anniversary. He received the Silver Beaver Award – the highest award a council can bestow on a volunteer – as well as the Vigil Honor for outstanding service.

Scott Walstrom
Senior photographer, Media Services

Scott Walstrom
Scott Walstrom

Millions of people see what Scott Walstrom sees through his camera lens.

Walstrom regularly contributes photos to NIU’s social media presence, creating more than 2.5 million impressions among prospective students, parents, alumni and fans in the “Tag Yourself, Tag Your Friends” Facebook campaign.

He won awards for his cover shot on the Fall 2011 issue of the Northern Now alumni magazine. His photos are featured on interstate billboards, promotional booklets and recruitment postcards.

But it’s his work documenting the feats of Huskie athletes that has left the greatest footprint.

He routinely travels with the football team for away games, including postseason bowls, and
is a sidelines fixture at home contests for other sports. His images grace myriad publications, from local newspapers to Time, USA Today and Sporting News.

“Much of that travel takes place on weekends and holidays,” says former Athletics Director Jeff Compher. “It is a very difficult thing to be away from your family so much, but Scott never complains, because he understands how important it is to capture these special moments for NIU and our student-athletes.”

A mentor to colleagues, he continues to perfect his craft: “Scott was instrumental in the development of a procedure to process digital images on the road and transmit them digitally via cell phone to the various local and regional newspapers so they can use the images in the earliest editions possible,” says Jay Orbik, director of Media Services.

Walstrom is an active churchgoer who has led a group for couples with elementary school children.

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