JOHNSON CITY (July 30, 2021) – Eight individuals were honored by the East Tennessee State University Staff Senate in the presentation of the 2021 Distinguished Staff Awards.
Outstanding staff are nominated by their peers for these awards, which include a $2,000 check provided by the ETSU Foundation and an engraved recognition memento from the Staff Senate.
Awards are presented annually to staff members whose performance of assigned tasks, positive attitude in working with others, commitment to the university community, and exercise of extraordinary courage deserve recognition and inspire other employees.
The 2021 winners recognized during the annual Staff Picnic were:
Karen Bright-Hensley, executive aide in the Clemmer College’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is praised for her ability to notice small details and make sure those details are attended to. Her nominator particularly noted the care and compassion she shows to the department’s students. “During the pandemic, one student in our department shared that she was food insecure and unable to afford her rent during the summer,” her nomination states. “Ms. Bright-Hensley championed the faculty who each voluntarily contributed enough money to pay for the student’s rent throughout the summer with enough left over to purchase groceries for the rest of the semester.” A supporter of Bright-Hensley’s nomination recognized her valuable role in the administration of an “exceptionally complex” department and meeting the needs of its faculty and students.
Dr. Robert Leger, who has been with ETSU for over 45 years, is recognized for his loyalty to the university and his employees. The assistant vice president with the Center for Community Outreach in Research and Sponsored Programs is also a longtime professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “He has brought in many grants in the millions of dollars and continues to do so,” his nominator wrote. “He is very committed to his job, his staff and his community. He encourages all of us all the time and praises us all for jobs well done. He is an excellent leader, fair, very understanding, and very compassionate in everything he does. He is an excellent supervisor and all the staff think very highly of him.”
Heather Levesque, director of Undergraduate Admissions, is recognized for the leadership she provided to her team during the COVID-19 pandemic and for her consistent support for students and staff. “Our work is fast-paced and demanding under normal circumstances; the pandemic brought a whole new layer of challenges,” her nominator wrote. “All the moving pieces of our team had to adapt together to find new and innovative ways to recruit students, process applications, and admit new Buccaneers in uncertain and evolving circumstances. At a time when the logistics were most complex, our team had to be more agile and coordinated than ever. During a difficult year, Heather has supported us not just as workers but as individuals whose personal well-being – and that of our families – is respected and prioritized.” Supporters of Levesque’s nomination commended her for her calm and thoughtful leadership and consideration of others in all situations and decisions.
Tim Metcalf, who serves as custodian in ETSU’s Gilbreath Hall, is described as “a great example of what it means to be part of the ETSU family.” His nominator wrote, “Tim is always so attentive to his work and very meticulous. He takes great pride in keeping the building pristine in appearance. He never sits down unless he is eating his ‘lunch’ in the evening (for about five minutes). He is very friendly and always willing to help if I need a hand moving something like a large box or a piece of furniture. Tim also likes to look out for me and make sure that I am safe while working at night. Tim is fantastic, and he is one of many reasons ETSU faculty and staff will never support a decision to hire outside contractors to clean our offices, restrooms, and buildings. He is part of our team and part of our family.”
Joey McNeil, inventory supervisor in Plant Maintenance and Repairs, is one of two movers on the staff and has served the university for over 16 years. “Joey is instantly recognized in every building we go into and is highly regarded by personnel working in other departments across campus,” his nominator wrote. “He has always treated everyone we greet on campus with respect and courtesy. He is always eager to help remedy whatever problem they may have concerning their moving details. When he enters an office area to be moved, he is always sure to leave it in better condition than when we arrived. He is an excellent worker and supervisor.”
Hubert “Rick” Pair is a boiler mechanic and lead worker in ETSU’s Power House Operations. His nominator wrote that Pair “loves his job and ETSU. He would work 24-7 if needed, no questions asked. He is an excellent mechanic who knows the power house like the back of his hand. Everyone depends on Rick, who is honest and trustworthy.”
The annual Career Award was presented to Donna Corbitt, an executive aide in the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Student Affairs, who has served the university for 35 years. Corbitt is praised her for her in-depth knowledge of university policies and procedures and her willingness to share that knowledge with others. One nominator wrote that her “depth of experience is evident in her work, which she performs with confidence and reliability. Her job-specific knowledge, as well as her institutional knowledge, are profound. Donna is efficient. She gets things done quickly and accurately. She takes pride in her work, and she represents the College of Arts and Sciences and East Tennessee State University extremely well.” In addition to noting numerous other qualities, this nominator called her “collegial and kind, a joy to work with. She makes students feel safe when they come into the office, and this is crucial given the nature of their visits, which often relate to serious issues where much is at stake for them. Her consistency and care are invaluable to this university.” Another nominator wrote, “Her loyalty and dedication to students, her care and concern for others, and her ability to change and evolve with a changing and evolving university make her an obvious choice for the Career Award.”
The Outstanding Staff Senator Award was presented to Anthony Johnson, ETSU Online student specialist with Information Technology Services. According to his nomination, Johnson has “been pivotal on the Communications and Website Committee and he’s also been consistent in helping all of us when we need it as secretary, and as an overall member of the Staff Senate. He’s one we can all count on.” Another nominator wrote, “Anthony is always willing to help me when I have questions. He is quick to respond to emails, and he demonstrates patience with me. Since this is my first year, I ask a lot of questions, and Anthony is my go-to person.”
Pictured at top, from left-right, are Hubert "Rick" Pair, Joey McNeil, Karen Bright-Hensley, Anthony Johnson, Dr. Robert Leger, Tim Metcalf, Donna Corbitt and Heather Levesque.