WMU News

Four staff members rewarded for excellent service

July 22, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Four outstanding Western Michigan University staff members have been chosen to receive the 2003 Staff Service Excellence Annual Award, which comes with a $1,000 prize.

The winners, selected by the Staff Service Excellence Awards Program Selection Committee from among 15 candidates, are: John Disbro, arborist, Physical Plant-Landscape Services; Paul MacNellis, director, Physical Plant-Landscape Services; Sharon Myers, office coordinator, Department of Sociology; and Richard H. Welch, supervisor, Department of Physics machine shop.

The award is reserved for WMU's most outstanding staff employees--those who reach far beyond their assigned responsibilities to give generously and creatively of their time and talents. Winners are chosen from among the recipients of the semiannual awards of the same name. The selection team includes representatives from each participating employee group: the Administrative Professional Association, the Professional Support Staff Organization, Michigan State Employees Association, Police Officers Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees..

In addition to the cash prizes, recipients received framed certificates and will have their photos displayed in the Siebert Administration Building. A luncheon in their honor was held July 17.

Disbro has worked as an arborist at WMU since 1986. A certified arborist, he earned his bachelor's degree in horticulture from Purdue University in 1973. His nominators praised his hard work, expansive knowledge and common sense, lauding him for a variety of volunteer work throughout the community.

"John is one of the hardest working souls I have ever met," said one supporter. "He is a wealth of information (which I draw from regularly) and the pursuit of excellence is just in his nature.

"Many times his expertise is utilized in landscape designs which I believe are drawn and thought out as good or better than many landscape architects today. John's design talents alone must save WMU thousands of dollars."

Currently away from campus on active duty in the National Guard, MacNellis has been a University employee since 1968. He worked his way through the physical plant ranks, earning his bachelor's degree in 1988 and being promoted to his current post as director in 1991. MacNellis was praised for his ability to organize, support and motivate his staff; his dedication to the efficiency and beauty of the campus; and his part in ensuring smooth operation of the WMU Sculpture Tour.

"Paul started with a campus of 'dirt and weeds' and we now have a campus of grass and flowers," wrote one nominator.

"Everyone admires the beauty of our campus and Paul 'goes beyond the pale' to make it so," said another. "I've heard him talk about transplanting native plans so they survive, so they are natural to the habitat, and so they contribute to the Michigan landscape with environmental integrity. He strives to design our landscape so it brings high levels of enjoyment for our students, staff, faculty and visitors."

Myers has been a WMU staff member since 1984, working in the departments of Psychology and Political Science before being promoted to her current position in the Department of Sociology in 2000. Her nominators applauded her for her budgeting, supply management and space planning skills, as well as for her ability to facilitate positive communication between administrators, faculty and students.

"Sharon's attention to organization, willingness to coordinate and schedule multiple parties, and ability to tackle difficult problems head on are tremendous assets to our units," said one supporter.

"In replacing the department's administrative assistant of almost 30 years, Sharon not only achieved a seamless transition but set the stage for growth with a new chair and a growing turnover in faculty. As the primary link to the University's administrative structure, she maintained the efficiency of past practice while allowing [the chairperson] and the rest of us to put our stamp on the department in a time of change."

Welch has held his current post in the Department of Physics' machine shop since joining the University in 1999. Those who wrote in support of his nomination praised his design suggestions, ability to complete projects on short notice and money-saving ideas and inventions. They also noted his work to develop a course on basic shop operations aimed at student users.

"Much of the credit for the success of the research program in the physics department must go to Rick," wrote one nominator.

"He has done literally dozens of things to improve the shop, improve student learning, save the department money, improve safety and make the research and education missions easier," said another. "Rick's level of commitment is extremely rare anywhere and we are exceedingly fortunate to have him. His aid to students, his help in improving the capabilities of the department and the University, his good humor and his great willingness to help go far above his duties."

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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