Four staffers bestowed WMU's top honor

Contact: Erin Flynn

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Supportive. Innovative. Inspirational. Four staff members who routinely go above and beyond their job descriptions will be honored for their exceptional contributions to Western Michigan University.

Dr. Vun Doubblestein, Rebecca Huntley, Shari Rose and Dustin Skaggs have been selected to receive the Annual Make a Difference Award. They will be recognized during WMU's Fall Convocation which begins at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20, in the Bernhard Center.

The award is the highest accolade bestowed upon non-faculty employees by WMU and is given to four staff members selected from each academic year's Semiannual Make a Difference Award winners.

Fall Convocation will also feature WMU President Edward Montgomery's State of the University Address as well as the presentation of four other prestigious campuswide honors: the Distinguished Faculty Scholar, Distinguished Service, Distinguished Teaching and Emerging Scholar awards.

Dr. Vun Doubblestein

Headshot of Dr. Vun Doubblestein


Doubblestein began her service at WMU in 1999 as a student worker. She earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees while continuing to work for the University. In 2007, Doubblestein was hired as a program coordinator in the Division of Multicultural Affairs. She's since been promoted multiple times within the office and is currently associate director of the Mentoring for Success program and web administrator in the Division of Multicultural Affairs. 

Described as a mentor, coach, advisor, supervisor, instructor, educator, leader, ally, advocate and confidant, Doubblestein has taken on a number of formal and informal roles within the University over the past 20 years. She is the principal investigator for the State of Michigan King-Chavez-Parks Initiative Select Student Support Services competitive grant, which funds the Mentoring for Success program that has, under her guidance, transformed from a start-up into a successful peer mentoring program serving more than 300 students annually.

"Her excellent work has been used repeatedly as a model by her grant sponsor and other institutions," says a colleague who praises Doubblestein's willingness to support team members and students with creative and innovative solutions.

Other colleagues laud Doubblestein's efforts to make WMU more diverse and inclusive as well as her ability to meet students on a personal level.

"I was nearly homeless and she helped me navigate that space. She also helped me navigate my identity," says a student worker. "Through our interactions, I learned a lot about myself and others."

Rebecca Huntley

Headshot of Rebecca Huntley


While she's only been an administrative assistant in WMU's Department of Political Science a short time, Huntley's impact is evident.

"She has transformed the face of the office in less than two years," says a nominator. "It was an unequivocally positive environment before she arrived, but she has created an atmosphere that is beyond that."

Huntley came to WMU in November 2015 as a temporary worker. The following February, she was hired as an office assistant in the Haenicke Institute for Global Education. Impressing supervisors and coworkers right from the start, Huntley was promoted to her current position as an administrative assistant I in March 2017.

Her responsibilities within the Department of Political Science are vast, ranging from interacting with visitors at the front desk to supervising student employees and managing social media.

"She revolutionized our Facebook page, developed and modernized our hallway and office displays, brought our department's attention to the WMU Signature program partnership opportunities and has become an expert graphic designer," writes one nominator.

Huntley also takes the lead on graduate admissions within the department. A colleague calls her involvement with those students "unprecedented."

"She not only promotes the university to prospective students, but, once they get here, she makes sure they are welcomed and that they receive assistance to get settled."

Colleagues can't say enough about her contributions to the University.

"She is undoubtedly everybody's go-to person," says a nominator, describing Huntley as "reliable, helpful, consistent, proactive, intelligent, humorous, warm, kind, supportive, efficient, thoughtful and knowledgeable."

Colleagues consistently laud Huntley's initiative and hard work, noting that she routinely exceeds expectations.

"Her courtesy, attention to detail and follow through are unparalleled," writes a colleague. "Clearly, in our busy world, she exceeds any normal expectation of service."

Shari Rose

Headshot of Shari Rose.


An enrollment assistant in WMU's Graduate College, Rose does it all. She is responsible for graduate enrollment management, guiding students, faculty and staff through the sometimes complicated application process.

Nominators unequivocally refer to her as the "go-to" person for graduate admissions, citing her deep knowledge of policies and procedures as well as her willingness to answer any question thrown her way, or find the answer in the small chance she doesn't have it. As one colleague puts it, Rose is "vital to the University's recruitment and retention efforts."

Rose came to WMU as a clerk in the Office of Admissions in 2005 and was promoted to application processor the following year. She continued to hone her skills and build her deep well of knowledge for the next decade, with the position eventually transitioning to the Graduate College in 2016. Her position became enrollment assistant in 2018 to reflect the additional responsibilities of the role.

Many nominators point out Rose's positivity despite the stressful and often tedious nature of her job.

"I'm not sure how she manages to be excellent and on-point 24/7, but she is," marvels one colleague. "She goes above and beyond her duties as an enrollment assistant and always does it with the most positive attitude."

Most recently, she displayed grace under pressure while learning and helping the college transition to a new application program. A nominator points out the initiative Rose took after the college expanded the number of accelerated graduate programs to hold training workshops to help staff better understand the process.

"I'm sure the work volume and pressures were intense, yet she was always patient, available, responsive, informative and supportive throughout," says one nominator. "She is a stellar representative of the Graduate College and WMU and is the epitome of how we should all strive to be every day!"

"The most wonderful thing about her is her kind, upbeat and positive disposition," says another colleague. "She is exactly the type of person we need working at WMU."

Simply put, says another nominator, "She's a star."

Dustin Skaggs

Headshot of Dustin Skaggs.


Skaggs works as a plumber in Maintenance Services, where he was hired in August 2016. He quickly earned the respect of his colleagues and supervisors with his innate leadership sense and positive attitude.

"He exemplifies professionalism in all his actions," writes one nominator. "He cares about our students greatly and continues to work diligently to solve issues each and every day to ensure their experience on campus is excellent."

Not one to shy away from a challenge, colleagues laud Skaggs' willingness to step up when needed. He was first to volunteer when a supervisor needed someone to cover the entire campus and managed to handle the task with both diligence and a sense of humor.

"He kept his positive attitude and laughed at himself," says a nominator, "which kept up our shop's morale."

Along with raising morale, colleagues also applaud Skaggs' ability to teach, advise and raise up his peers every day he comes to work.

"I have been an employee for more than 30 years and have very rarely seen such a dedicated employee," says a colleague. "He is a considerate, conscientious, hard-working team member who is the glue to our maintenance shop with a true personal investment in WMU."

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.

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