Four Recognized With Staff Excellence Awards
June 9, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
|SHSU President Dana Hoyt (far right) congratulates this year's Staff Excellence Award winners (from left) Bubba Miller, Megan Hobbs Barrett and Kelly Bentsen. Not pictured is Lisa Langlais. —Photo by Brian Blalock|
Many people are familiar with the adage “behind every great man is a great woman.”
The same can be said about Sam Houston State University. Behind every “Great College To Work For” is a community of employees, working toward individual and university-wide greatness.
This may be especially true for the four university employees who have been cited for their resourcefulness, helpfulness and positivity through approximately 50 nominations for the 2015 Staff Excellence Awards.
This year’s recipients include Kelly Bentsen, ERP analyst IV for IT@Sam; Megan Hobbs Barrett, assistant to the art department chair; Lisa Langlais, administrative associate II for the department of mathematics and statistics; and Edward “Bubba” Miller, rodeo coach in the department of agricultural sciences and engineering technology.
A “rock star” in the IT@Sam Department, Kelly Bentsen was recognized by 21 of her colleagues, all of whom stressed her efficiency, her ability to problem solve, her positivity, and her dedication to customer service.
“When I know that a Cherwell request has gone to Kelly, I breathe a sigh of relief because I have no doubt that the task will be completed with excellence, and I have never been proven wrong,” one nomination said.
As a leader on the Banner Student Team, Bentsen “provides a great service to our campus,” offering “crucial knowledge of our system;” yet, she is never unreachable, even while she’s “busy,” after hours, or even on the weekends.
She also seeks the most efficient solutions, “even if that may result in more work for herself.”
“She strives to provide the best service, including staying beyond the 8-5 day if it means bringing resolutions and providing answers,” a nominator said. “She will be provided with an issue and will extend herself beyond our slotted resolution to reach above and beyond that which we thought was technically possible. She sees the big picture.”
In addition to being “extremely talented” and working “at the speed of lightening,” Bentsen’s colleagues were most impressed by her “unbeatable attitude.”
“Kelly is unfailingly kind and friendly and such a joy to work with,” a colleague said. “It is often that we run across people who are always tired or frustrated with something, but I have never once seen or heard Kelly complain about anything. On the contrary, she is always checking on all of us and being so caring and understanding.
“She trains staff, works on our difficult projects that require a lot of analysis and patience, and she does it with the patience of a saint and always with the understanding that everything is priority to us,” the colleague continued.
“Kelly does all of this and more with a heart that bleeds into all aspects of her work and personal life,” another colleague said. “IT is a very selfless, thankless field. (But) Kelly has been the glue to hold technical and functional teams together.”
While the art department has seen a staffing shortage over the past year, Megan Hobbs Barrett has stepped up to provide services that have gone well beyond her job description, assisting the department in a time of need.
“Megan basically keeps this department running,” one nominator said. “If she ever left, the department would need three people to take her place because she’s so efficient and knowledgeable. She excels in ever task given to her.”
And over the course of the past year, those tasks have been varied.
In addition to playing the part of accounting clerk since October, she has served as the office receptionist, fielding constant questions from students, faculty and department visitors.
“All of the tasks involved in managing 25 faculty and five to 10 student workers, as well as purchasing supplies and equipment for art programs and galleries,” a colleague said. “All of this is always done on time and ahead of schedule.”
In addition, Barrett has lent her “beyond compare” organizational skills to maintain the department’s course schedule and budgets for department programs; to “mastermind” many of the components of the department’s inaugural fundraising gala; to compile data for the department’s Bachelor of Fine Arts review, which averages around 40 students per semester; and to assist with the administration of the department’s animation camp, which “would not have been a success without her efforts.”
“She is the most efficient administrative assistant I have ever worked with. She immediately handles any request and things are never behind in the art office,” another colleague said. “She has helped bake pizzas for fundraising, helps students with class schedule issues, and is super supportive of our students.”
While doing all of this, Barrett is working to complete her master’s degree in business.
“She is the hardest working, most loyal and thoughtful person I know. I am a newer faulty member and I could not have made the transition to this school without her. She helped me find a house and people to help me move before we even met,” another colleague said. “She is caring and loving and makes this an even better place to work. I left for work early just this morning so I could have time to run in and get a hug from her.”
The math department would be lost without Lisa Langlais, according to nominators.
While her roll as administrative associate requires the organization of IDEA forms, bookstore requests, inventory sheets and other documentation for 30 faculty members, 15 adjunct instructors, and 45 graduate students, Langlais performs all aspects of her job perfectly, a task that would be “impossible” for anyone but her, a nominator said.
“Not only does she meet every single deadline given to her, she still manages not to upset anyone while being so demanding,” the colleague said. “I’m really not sure how she does it.
“She strives to find the most efficient, thorough, and fair way to complete all tasks assigned or expected of her, regardless of how unimportant others in the department may find these tasks,” the colleague said. “She takes her job very seriously. As a consequence, very little of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ mess is seen by the faculty and students.”
Langlais makes the department “a better place,” not only for faculty, but for students as well.
“Lisa has become a deficit adviser to many of our students, particularly the non-math majors. She does this not only to ease the burden of the faculty advisers in the department, but also to make sure these (often first-year) students don’t get lost in the large advising system,” one nomination said.
“The students adore her,” another colleague said. “They will come in sometimes just to say ‘hi’ or for a quick visit.”
Recognizing a student need, Langlais took it upon herself to solicit Texas Instruments for free graphing calculators each year.
“We, consequently, have a supply of several dozen $150 calculators available for students to borrow each semester,” a nominator said. “This makes a huge difference to our students, most of whom don’t have money to buy such an expensive piece of equipment that’s required for their class. Lisa does this because she wants to.”
Things like this have led Langlais to develop an across-campus reputation as a wonderful and productive employee.
“Many times our department will get phone calls from other places asking how we do things in our office,” a colleague said. “We have built a reputation and we strive to uphold that.”
The SHSU rodeo team can attribute its success to several things. Among those, according to faculty members across campus, is Bubba Miller.
The combination of dedication, passion, professionalism and reliability have made for an excellent leader and supporter for the students of SHSU’s agricultural sciences program and those from across campus who comprise the SHSU rodeo team.
“Coach Miller has taken a good, competitive rodeo team and made it great,” a nominator said. “Several individual national champions, as well as team championships, attest to this fact.”
Miller’s vision for the team began with a focus on health.
“He knew these students needed to be in shape to perform, so he started an exercise/workout program,” one colleague said. “This innovative program has allowed these athletes to perform at top level.”
While doing well is important, Miller’s emphasis on “academics first, competition second” has produced myriad “society-ready” graduates.
“He brings that experience to his program with the focus on developing the students’ academics and employability skills,” a colleague said. “I have heard him say many times to the rodeo kids that some day rodeo will end for you, but the skills you learn while at university and the arena will last a lifetime.”
In hosting events at his home, Miller also has developed a culture of family and support that makes him something of a surrogate father to many of the team members.
“Ask Bubba how many children he has and he will quickly tell you he is the proud father to 50-plus,” a faculty member said. “This year during the National Rodeo Finals, an SHSU student in my class was competing in bull riding. The young man got hurt in the second round and I sent an email of encouragement. Bubba sent me an email keeping me informed of his injuries until we knew he was out of medical care.
“He knew of Trey’s status because he never left his side. Very few staff members, if any, would go to these lengths for a student.”
Despite the countless hours, nights and weekends he spends coaching and the limited budget compared to the larger schools his team consistently beats, Miller maintains a “positive attitude and 110 percent motivation.”
“He believes he has the greatest job in the world and works with the best kids in the world,” a nominator said. “He puts them above himself and never takes the credit for what he gets them to accomplish.”
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