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SHSU Recognizes 2004 Outstanding Employees

2004 Staff Excellence Award recipients with President Gaertner
SHSU President James Gaertner (far right) has announced the names of the Staff Excellence Award recipients for 2004. They are (from left) Sam Walker, Paula Culak and James Harding.

Three staff employees at Sam Houston State University have been recognized for their excellence in service, commitment, performance and motivation.

They are Paula Culak of the Public Safety Services Department, James Harding of the Physical Plant Department, and Sam Walker of the Purchasing and Stores Department.

Three awards are given annually to full-time staff members who excel in their job duties. They are selected based on nominations by their peers, supervisors and members of the SHSU faculty.
In addition to a plaque of recognition, each recipient is traditionally honored during a general university meeting at the beginning of the fall semester and awarded a $2000 bonus.

Paula Culak

Culak serves as secretary III for SHSU's Public Safety Services, which includes the university's police department. She has been employed at SHSU for 30 years.

"She knows her job very well and never turns down a task," wrote one co-worker. "She always presents a good idea or solution for our problems,"

"She is friendly, a people person, and she is very understanding," wrote another co-worker. "When students bring their parking tickets to the office, she helps them realize they do have to follow rules or they will pay."

"Paula truly cares about her work, the department, the associates she works with, and the people she serves," wrote another. "She always has a smile on her face, even when dealing with the ill-mannered."

"Ms. Culak's courteous and caring demeanor, while working with students, staff and faculty is necessary in the Department of Public Safety Services," said Thelma J. Douglass, vice president for student services.

"She strives to serve the university in a manner that goes above and beyond what is expected," Douglass continued. "She is responsible, dependable, and extremely well liked among her colleagues."

James Harding

Harding is an electrician in the Physical Plant Department. Among his responsibilities are the repair and maintenance of light poles and elevated lighting on campus. He also sets up the campus Christmas Tree of Light and works on other special projects.

"James goes above and beyond the call of duty in helping both faculty and students with their special projects as well as helping his fellow workers," wrote one co-worker. "He is always walking on campus after dark, checking for lighting that has gone out so that he can get it fixed to ensure student safety,"

"James is always pleasant to work with, is highly motivated and dependable," wrote another. "He has all the knowledge for his chosen field, and is always willing to learn new procedures. Employees like James are an inspiration and good example for newer employees,"

"Not only is James an excellent electrician, but because of his personality and his work ethic, he has earned the respect of his peers, supervisors and members of the faculty," wrote another.

"James is always concerned with customer satisfaction and believes that it is important to listen to their concerns as part of diagnosing the problems," wrote another. "He has very good communications skills, and his approach to people is friendly and open.

"He does excellent work, brings jobs to completion on time, and makes the effort to 'connect' with customers," the writer continued. "Often he is asked for by name because he is so dependable."

"There is never a lack of positive attitude from James, " said Douglas Greening, director of the physical plant.
"He is likely one of our greatest contributors when it comes to helping others without complaint," he said. "I've seen James volunteer for activities when he had no obligation to do so. When it seems no one else will be available, James will step forward.

"Earlier this year, I received a letter from Agricultural Sciences Chair Dr. Robert Lane, " Greening continued. "In the letter, Lane praised James's work on a malfunctioning control system regulating heat to a greenhouse. While James worked with the manufacturer to troubleshoot the controls, he came out to the greenhouse in the evenings and on weekends to ensure that the plants within did not freeze or get too hot. That's not only innovative but dedicated."

Sam Walker

Walker is the manager of University Warehouse and Receiving. He is responsible for the coordination of the relocation of offices on campus and oversees the university stores.

"His pleasant personality is always evident," wrote a colleague. "He has a smile for everyone, works hard all the time, and never leaves a job incomplete. Sam can find a workable solution for all situations."

"He has an excellent attitude when dealing with his fellow university employees and the students," wrote another. "He is always motivated to serve the university to the best of his ability."

"Sam's attitude and motivation for his job is a by-product of the type of man that he is," wrote a co-worker. "He is a man of integrity and character."

"He strives to make work as efficiently as possible, thereby eliminating the duplication of the work load," wrote another. "He talks with everyone involved to see what works the best."

"From day one of his employment, Sam has always tried to perfect, improve and increase the efficiency of our department, as well as improve customer relations," said Renee Starns, assistant director of purchasing and stores.

"He is always ready at the drop of a hat or as quick as a phone call to help out where he is needed," she continued. "If he doesn't have staff available, he will take care of it himself.

"Sam is like a father figure to all of his student help. He is always there to guide them in the right direction," she said. "He is very involved with the students, both here (at Sam Houston State) and off campus, whether it be as a 4-H leader, Sunday school teacher, Walker County Fair committee member, or as a supervisor of students here at the University Warehouse."


Media Contact: Julia May
May 3, 2004
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