Seven UM Employees Receive Outstanding Staff Awards

Personnel recognized for excellence in service categories

Outstanding staff members with Chancellor Jones.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Outstanding staff members with Chancellor Jones. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Custodial Services employee Nora M. Ingram was all smiles Friday (May 15) after being named the University of Mississippi’s 2015 Overall Outstanding staff member.

The custodian was presented a plaque, $1,000 and two season football tickets by Chancellor Dan Jones during the annual Staff Appreciation Awards program in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“The overall award winner this year has been with us since April of 2013, but the contribution she is making is already significant,” Jones said. “She is a role model for her peers and has proven herself to be one of the best custodians on her team. She takes pride in all that she does and is an outstanding employee. She loves her job, and it shows in her performance.”

Literally crying tears of joy as she strolled to the stage to accept her award, the Byhalia native said she was truly humbled by it.

“This was a big surprise,” said Ingram, who works the Kinard district and primarily in Howry and Faulkner halls. “I feel undeserving, but if my work makes someone’s day more enjoyable, I’m happy.”

Six other employees were equally surprised to be presented Outstanding Service Awards, including a $500 stipend, in their respective EEO categories. Winners were Linda Chitwood, associate provost for outreach, for EEO 1 (Executive and Managerial); Prelmalatha Balachandran, research scientist in the National Center for Natural Products Research, for EEO 3 (Professional Non-faculty); Steven Rideout, procurement assistant in Procurement Services; for EEO 4 (Secretarial/Clerical); Jeffrey Hannah, performing arts technical coordinator in the Department of Theatre Arts, for EEO 5 (Technical/Paraprofessional); Willard Frazier, senior carpenter in the Carpentry Shop; for EEO 6 (Skilled Crafts) and Jerry Harden, senior custodian in Custodial Services; for EEO 7 (Service Maintenance).

More than 240 UM employees were recognized during the ceremony. Those hired since May 1 were asked to stand in the assembly. Afterwards, 77 5-year, 71 10-year and 39 15-year employees were called. Each received a certificate and lapel pin in recognition of their service.

A plaque and keepsake was presented to 17 20-year, seven 25-year, six 30-year and 23 30-plus-year employees for their dedicated service to the institution. Among these was Katherine Tidwell, manager of contractual services and director of the University ID center, who received a lengthy standing ovation for her 46 years here. Having served under four chancellors, Tidwell has been a UM employee longer than anyone.

Near the program’s end, two surprise awards were presented. The first was the inaugural Daniel W. Jones M.D. Outstanding Team Service Award, which went to 34 employees known as “The A Team.” Recognized for their contributions to consistently record-breaking fall enrollments, the recipients represented the offices of Admissions, Student Housing, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Continuing Studies, Registrar, Bursar, International Programs, Leadership and Counselor Education and the Department of Mathematics.

The second award was the Staff Council Distinguished Service Award, presented to Jones for his outstanding leadership as chancellor. Hired in 2009, the outgoing senior administrator’s tenure ends in mid-September following a decision by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s board of trustees not to renew his contract. While acknowledging a failed effort to reverse the board’s decision, Jones was upbeat as he accepted the honor.

“I’ll always be a member of the University of Mississippi family,” Jones said. “As the search begins for my replacement, my sincerest desire is that this institution keeps moving forward.”

The outstanding staff awards were created in 1990 as a way to honor staff members for their contributions to the university.

“Staff members can vote for other staff members in their respective EEO categories through myOleMiss,” said Carl Hall, project coordinator of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and president of the UM Staff Council. “The person with the most votes in their respective EEO category is recognized at our awards day ceremony.”

Anyone can nominate someone for the overall outstanding staff member, regardless of EEO category.

“Individuals wishing to nominate a staff member for the overall outstanding award submit a narrative explaining why they believe their nominee should be recognized,” Hall said. “These nomination forms then go before a committee of staff council members who choose the overall outstanding staff member.”

Congratulations to all this year’s winners! I’m look forward to celebrating a decade of employment at UM in 2016.