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Outstanding employees for 2001-2002 honored at Fall Convocation

8/28/2002
August 28, 2002

The 2001-02 Outstanding Employee Awards were presented to three staff members during the University's Fall Convocation.

Selected by staff vote from among the past year's Outstanding Employees of the Quarter in three categories—support, clerical and professional, the Outstanding Employees of the Year are Cecil Moss, physical plant truck crew (support); Beverly Sims, office supervisor, Student Affairs Office (clerical); and Debbie Suiter, coordinator of accounting in shipping and receiving (professional).

Cecil Moss, who began working at APSU in 1982, was credited for his can-do attitude, especially during the demanding and time-intensive move of all faculty, staff, supplies and equipment from McCord Building to the Sundquist Science Complex. In the nomination, Kelcy Hibpshman, inventory clerk, wrote, “Cecil is a great asset to the truck crew and to this University.”

Beverly Sims, who has worked at Austin Peay 11 years, is viewed by many as a positive role model for other staff and students. Among her many duties, Sims is the Web contact for the Division of Student Affairs, personally responding to inquiries from prospective students, current students and family members.

In nominating Sims, Tammy Bryant, administrative assistant in student affairs, wrote: “Beverly takes a genuine interest in the welfare of students and has been known on more than one occasion to have students (for) meals at her house on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when they lived too far away to go home.”

Debbie Suiter, who has been employed at APSU since 1982, is known for her outstanding work ethic and consistently high quality of work. In nominating Suiter, Debbie Shearon, secretary 3, wrote: “Debbie Suiter does a great job of keeping up with all the key and lock information for the campus. She's a wonderful supervisor and is willing to help anyone at any time. She deserves to be recognized.”

In addition to this year's recipients of the Outstanding Employee Award, others recognized during Convocation included Employees of the Quarter and non-faculty employees who have retired recently.

Ronald Bailey joined Austin Peay's Public Safety Office in October 1983, following a successful military career, which culminated in his assignment as a first sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division.

He quickly moved through the ranks as campus police officer and sergeant, training and supervising other officers.

In 1992, Bailey sustained a back injury, which ended his police career but didn't dampen his work ethic or his reputation for being a dedicated lawman.

When the opportunity arose to bring Bailey back to the department three years later, he was re-hired as a dispatch supervisor — a position he held until his retirement in May 2002.

In this capacity, Bailey maintained office logs, managed the parking decal program and helped institute the University's emergency broadcast system. But it is his unofficial title as “campus guardian angel” that he will perhaps be remembered for most.

Receiving all incoming calls for assistance, Bailey was responsible for evaluating emergency and non-emergency situations and dispatching appropriate units to make sure help was on the way.

“Based on Ron's military and police experience, he was uniquely qualified as a dispatch supervisor,” says Eric Provost, police chief and director of public safety. “He was the consummate professional law enforcement officer and is missed by all.”

For Lynda Gupton, working in the physics department at APSU was a family affair.

“She always had a knack for making the students and faculty feel special and for making the office feel like a home,” says Mel Mayfield, professor emeritus who founded the department in 1957.

From her first day on the job as a secretary 2 in November 1982 until her retirement in February 2002, Gupton found ways to combine daily office management with her strong sense of kinship.

“In addition to her work in keeping the department running — handling finances, communications, student worker timesheets — she always made time to arrange a chili supper or Christmas party,” says Mayfield.

Gupton diligently documented the department's history by maintaining a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and pictures.

She also created a “Future Physicists” board with photos of faculty members' children and grandchildren and kept up “walls of fame” with framed portraits of past students and professors.

These items remain in the department, displayed only as Gupton and any other proud parent would: prominently and proudly.

The physical plant found its softer side in Renetta Holt.

Working there as an account clerk 1 in 1985 and account clerk 2 in 1998 until her retirement in July 2002, she was in charge of processing all work orders for the University.

She also handled purchases for the power plant department and maintained account information for the supply warehouse, accounting supply and receiving department and all capital projects accounts.

“Renetta was a dependable worker and took a lot of pride in her work,” said Deborah Suiter, physical plant coordinator.

Unofficially, Holt's duties were that of physical plant mom.

“She was a person you could confide in and who'd give you a straight answer, whether it was what you wanted to hear or not,” says Suiter. “A lot of the fellows in the physical plant look to her as a mom and would talk with her about their problems. Some even called her ‘Mom.'”

Holt came to Austin Peay in August 1982 as a clerk typist in the business office and was reassigned as an account clerk 1 in 1983, before joining the physical plant staff.

She received the Employee of the Quarter Award in 2000 and retired in June 2002.

If there ever is an APSU category on Jeopardy, Elizabeth (Liz) Ivey would surely make a clean sweep of it.

As a member of the Institutional Research staff for nearly 30 years — first as a research assistant in 1973 and then as director in 1977 until her retirement in June 2002 — she has been the woman with all the answers.

In addition to publishing an annual University fact book, she prepared and submitted volumes of timely and accurate data — from enrollment reports to cost statistics — to numerous internal and external groups, including the Tennessee Board of Regents and Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Despite the painstaking process of compiling figures, Ivey always was able to find meaning in the numbers and apply them to the University for strategic planning and decision-making.

“Though she was consistently reliable on annual data needs, Ivey's strengths with the information were rooted in strong institutional knowledge of APSU,” says Dr. Houston Davis, assistant vice president for enrollment management. “She had a knack for placing the questions or analysis of the day into a historical and present-day context.

“At her retirement reception, I was struck by the number of folks that came to thank Liz specifically rather than just offer a general ‘thanks and good luck.' There was an appreciation for the time she spent to make sure data was correct and for the pride she took in APSU.”

With more than 700 faculty and staff on campus, it can be hard to remember a name or face.

Nancy Hamel, however, has had no trouble — even learning their shopping habits.

Hired as a store clerk in Austin Peay's Book and Supply Store in May 1985 and reclassified as assistant bookstore manager the following year, Hamel quickly discovered the favorites of her customers and used the information to provide them the best service possible.

“She knew all her department contacts and the items that each department preferred to use,” says Deborah Johnson, bookstore manager. “When new stock came in that she knew would be of interest to them, she would call them.”

This attention to detail, along with her supply of smiles and kind words, earned Hamel the Employee of the Year Award in 1996.

“In 17 years of working with her, I can only remember one day that she was out sick. She was very dedicated and truly an asset to the store and campus community,” says Johnson.

Hamel retired in June 2002.

Keeping track of household bills can be a daunting task for some — imagine doing it for an entire University.

As account clerk supervisor in accounting services from 1987 and manager of accounts payable from 2001 until her retirement in June 2002, Cynthia Moseley ensured the timely and accurate payments of APSU expenses. And she did it with a flourish.

“Cynthia was the employee every supervisor and co-worker dreams of. She was innovative and showed initiative in solving problems,” says Phyllis Whittaker, director of accounting services.

“She was a whirlwind, always going 100 miles a minute with several projects underway at once.”

In addition to her philosophy of getting things done today rather than tomorrow, Moseley subscribed to the code of being a good colleague and friend — attributes that led to the Employee of the Quarter Award in 1996.

“When another area of accounting services needed help, she volunteered herself and her staff to get the job done. Whenever anyone is sick or in need, Moseley will be there to ease the burden,” says Whittaker. “No matter how rushed her schedule, she always has time for others.”

Moseley first came to Austin Peay in 1974 as a machine operator in computer services. She was reclassified as a data control supervisor in 1976 and computer operator in 1980, prior to her appointments in accounting services.

Barbara Wilbur directed High School Upward Bound at Austin Peay from 1989 until her retirement in June 2002.

The program's name, however, doesn't do it — or her — justice because, under her leadership, High School Upward Bound became so much more, pushing students, families, the University and the community to higher achievements.

As director of the federal grant program designed to help students with academic potential but limited resources, Wilbur brought nearly $3 million to Austin Peay during her tenure.

The funding, in turn, allowed the University to reach out to the community with an offering of higher education.

“Many youth and their families have benefited from Barbara's involvement with their education,” says Jennie Preston-Sabin, director of student support services.

“Building the educational foundations of two to three generations of families has, no doubt, led many individuals to increased personal choices that have brought them closer to success and happiness, good citizenship and financial independence.”

Wilbur first came to Austin Peay as an assistant professor of biology in September 1986.

Rerouting, renovations and redecorating have brought the President's Residence full circle to its original dwelling at Archwood. Despite the major changes, however, it has not been without a mainstay.

For the past 16 years, beginning in April 1986 and interrupted by a short resignation in 1988, Janice Cork has worked as housekeeper to four Austin Peay presidents: Dr. Robert Riggs, Dr. Oscar Page, Dr. Sal Rinella and Dr. Sherry Hoppe.

In addition to daily cleaning and general assistance with household responsibilities Cork was instrumental in preparations for special events — a task she accomplished with dedication and thoroughness.

“She was a real asset when I was entertaining guests for the University at the state residence,” says Dr. Hoppe.

Cork won the Employee of the Quarter Award in 2001 and retired in June 2002 on medical disability.

“Janice was an excellent employee. She not only did everything well, she also anticipated what needed to be done and was willing to work whatever hours were necessary to finish the job,” says Hoppe.

Carolyn Schillinger knows returns don't have to be a headache-inducing endeavor.

As the Book and Supply Store's book ordering clerk for 14 years until her retirement in October 2001, she learned all it takes to make a hassle-free swap is a little organization.

“Carolyn was very thorough in performing her duties,” says Deborah Johnson, bookstore manager. “When a shipment left the store, I knew that all paperwork was in order and thoroughly documented. Resolving any discrepancies with the vendors was usually very easy because of her attention to details.”

In addition to being responsible for the return of all defective merchandise and books and overstocked textbooks, Schillinger, who was hired in September 1987, made sure credit was received for returned items. When it wasn't, she went straight to her meticulous paperwork to find out why.

Although she worked mainly behind the scenes, she proved just as resourceful when she was called to the front as well.

“Most people rarely saw Carolyn because her job required that she be in the stock room most of the time,” says Johnson, “but when she was on the sales floor, she always tried to help the customers find what they were looking for” — saving them a headache.