InsideODU: News for Faculty and Staff
Thursday, May 16, 2013

 Kudos

HACE Presents Annual Staff Awards to Bill Smith and Justin Mason

The Hourly and Classified Employees Association (HACE) presented its Staff Member of the Year and Rookie Staff Member of the Year awards on May 8 to Ronald “Bill” Smith from the Office of Facilities Management and Justin Mason from the Department of Physics (see photos below).

The awards were presented at the HACE annual luncheon, which also featured women’s basketball coach Karen Barefoot as guest speaker, remarks by President John R. Broderick and the installation of the association’s 2013-14 officers.

Smith, who has worked at Old Dominion for more than nine years, is the university’s housing maintenance superintendent. He was nominated for the award by his supervisor, Dillard George, director of facilities management, who noted that Smith “has a demanding job that requires exceptional leadership abilities, well-rounded technical skills in maintenance and a whole lot of patience.”

Whether it’s staying on top of things during normal business hours or coming back to campus at night or on weekends, Smith “enthusiastically pursues his job each day with a positive attitude, great sense of humor and incredible dedication to the residents, staff in housing and residence life and the university overall,” George wrote in his nomination.

“In the past 7 ½ years that Bill has been responsible for housing maintenance, he has made significant improvements in the level of service provided to our student residents during a time of unprecedented growth in our residence hall population and facilities going from about 2,400 beds to about 4,600 beds. Throughout this period he has been responsible for hiring new staff, managing a growing organization and improving the expertise of the staff to maintain more complex facilities,” George said.

“Bill routinely gets calls all hours of the night and through the weekend and he handles each one in a professional, patient and positive manner. He often personally comes to campus after hours to respond to emergencies.”

George also noted that Smith’s job often requires “great patience, tact and diplomacy,” particularly when dealing with students and parents. “He is regularly confronted with disgruntled residents and their parents regarding some aspect of their residence hall situation,” said George, adding: “In each situation, Bill is able to assess when there are legitimate deficiencies that need to be addressed and when the complaints are more of a distraction from the real issue. Bill takes seriously each complaint, communicates his sincere concern to parents and residents and lets them know exactly what steps he will take to address their concern.”

George further noted that Smith has earned great respect from his staff due to the trust he has built within his organization and through leading by example, modeling exceptional commitment and dedication.

Writing in support of Smith’s nomination, Ellen Neufeldt, vice president for student engagement and enrollment services, said that he “works diligently to ensure that students in the residence halls at ODU have their maintenance needs met in a timely manner. He responds to emergencies in the residence halls throughout the night and the weekends and takes pride in providing the best customer service and living conditions for the residents on campus.”

George concluded in his nomination: “In my mind, Bill epitomizes what it means to be a Monarch citizen and is one of the best representatives of Old Dominion University I know, both on campus and off. Bill is planning to retire in January 2014 after 10 years of outstanding service to the university and during his time here he has made a tremendous difference.”

As winner of the Staff Member of the Year award, Smith received a check for $200, a certificate from the Ted Constant Convocation Center for two tickets toward any event of his choice, a reserved parking space for one year, a voucher from the athletic department redeemable for two tickets to the Sept.14 ODU football game vs. Howard University and a Monarch Dining Services gift card valued at $50.

The following ODU employees were nominated for the HACE Staff Member of the Year award and received certificates at the luncheon: Annette Guzman-Smith, Shirlnique Harris, Marla Harvey, Eddie “Evon” Hughes, Saysha Malbon, Stacey Parks, Lillian Thompson and Norma Turner.

Justin Mason, the HACE Rookie of the Year, has worked at ODU a little more than a year as the physics department’s lab and research specialist. He was nominated for the award by his supervisor, physics operations manager Lisa Okun.

In her nomination form, Okun provided a long list of attributes that Mason brings to the department, and noted the many significant improvements he made at Pretlow Planetarium “to enhance the teaching and learning environment for our faculty, students and community outreach.” In addition to coordinating the installation of a new surround sound system and training graduate students on the new equipment, he coordinated and managed asbestos abatement and carpeting at the facility, “with minimal disruption to class schedules.”

Okun said Mason also helped plan and coordinate the first-ever and highly successful Physics Department Community Open House, and “prepared, transported and staged hands-on demonstrations and experiments for the annual Virginia Children’s Festival on a Saturday.

“Justin is a total team player who is extremely energetic, eager to take on new tasks and finds solutions to problems,” she said. “He succeeds in all endeavors and always delivers exceptional results. His positive can-do attitude is contagious and he is always willing to assist with any task, which has enhanced the morale in the department.”

Okun, as well as faculty in the department, further credited Mason for his work with ODU students, whether it’s supervising lab instructors or taking the initiative to teach student labs when needed.

From Declan De Paor, director of the Pretlow Planetarium: “He wasted no time in getting things in order in the lab prep room and planetarium. Justin is careful and methodical and consequently classroom demos are reliably organized. However, Justin does not simply manage existing facilities. He frequently seeks out new demos and teaching resources and recommends purchases that improve my classroom resources.”

Lawrence Weinstein, University Professor of physics and an Eminent Scholar, said of Mason: “Justin has provided superb support for in-class physics lecture demonstrations, setting up and maintaining the instructional physics labs, helping train the instructional lab instructors and helping with physics outreach activities.”

Charles Hyde, professor of physics, also wrote in support of Mason’s nomination, concluding: “Justin has interacted extremely well over the past year with students, staff and faculty. He makes everyone else’s job a little easier.”

As winner of the HACE Rookie Award, Mason received a check for $100, a certificate from the Ted Constant Convocation Center for two tickets toward any event of his choice, a voucher from the athletic department redeemable for four tickets to any 2013-14 Lady Monarchs basketball regular-season home game and a Monarch Dining Services gift card valued at $50.

The following ODU employees were nominated for the HACE Rookie Staff Member of the Year award and received certificates at the luncheon: Christina Gonzalez, Yvette Lee, Elizabeth Melendez, Kathy Nguyen and Donna Sellers.


Jarin Cornish (left), chair of the HACE employee awards selection committee, presents the Staff Member of the Year award to Ronald “Bill” Smith.


Cornish presents the Rookie Staff Member of the Year award to Justin Mason.


The following HACE officers for 2013-14 were installed during the luncheon program (l-r): Stacey Parks, secretary; Trina Hawkins, president; Zowie Lucas, vice president; and Donna Bean, treasurer.


Women’s basketball coach Karen Barefoot was the guest speaker for the luncheon program.


President John Broderick gave remarks at the luncheon, thanking the members of HACE for all they do on behalf of the university.

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