Today@Sam Article

Honoring The 2020 Staff Excellence Winners

July 22, 2020
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney


President Hoyt (center) recently recognized the 2020 Staff Excellence Award recipients. They are (from left) Dee Dee Dirk, Clair Collins and Chas Stephens. (Not pictured - Doris Pratt and Jessica Sides)  

Five Sam Houston State University employees who have demonstrated excellence in service, proven commitment, commendable performance and a high level of motivation have been selected as recipients of the 2020 Staff Excellence Award.

They are Clair Collins, of the College of Osteopathic Medicine; Chas Stephens, of the School of Nursing; Doris Pratt, of the College of Criminal Justice; Dee Dee Dirk, of the College of Education; and Jessica Sides of the College of Education. 

Staff members are selected based on nominations by their peers, supervisors and members of the SHSU faculty. In addition to a plaque of recognition, each recipient will be awarded a $2,000 bonus.

Clair Collins

Clair-Collins1Collins currently serves as the Director for Faculty Development and CME and joined the SHSU staff in 2017 in order to start the College of Osteopathic Medicine. In her daily role, she works with both faculty and staff across all of medical education to provide training opportunities on an array of topics from teaching modalities to diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, to tech trainings.

What do you love about your job?

“In this position I get to interact with almost every moving piece of the university. That’s challenging at times, but I enjoy a challenge,” Collins said. “What I bring to the table is an open mind, good humor, empathy, and practical knowhow. Everything that I do in my position is to make life just a little bit easier, and work a little more enjoyable, for our faculty and staff.”

Comments supporting her nomination include:

“Without Clair there would not be a first class of the COM. She has put in motion the processes for admissions, assessment, curriculum all the way through to graduation and residency. Clair’s dedication to the medical school will contribute to the institution as a whole, our future students and reputation, and the future doctors the program will develop.”

“Extremely knowledgeable in every area of the COM and university. Always positive, outgoing, eager to help, and diligent in work. Contributed at almost every level in the development of COM.”

“Clair comes to work the same way each day – ready to lead and motivate others with a smile and a ‘How are you doing?’ She is motivated through determination and a love for Sam Houston State; unmatched by anyone I’ve ever worked with.”

“Clair’s ideas have a footprint on almost everything our college does. She is often referred to as the jack-of-all-trades because she can do any task that is asked of her. Not only can she do all things asked of her, but she does it willingly and with a smile on her face.”

Chas Stephens

ChasStephensStephens currently serves as a data analyst for the School of Nursing. He has held this role at Sam Houston State University since 2014.

What do you love about your job?

“I am working in a field that produces immediate results. Our nursing students are able to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation and make an impact in their communities. I feel as though I am directly connected to their success in even the most mundane tasks. Everything from gathering numbers for accreditation to grant applications to basic tech troubleshooting plays a part in getting our students the proper education they need to be effective nurses,” Stephens said. “I also have some really great coworkers who make my job much easier. Because of all this, my role at the School of Nursing does not feel like a ‘job’ in the traditional sense.”

Comments supporting his nomination include:

“Chas goes above and beyond his job duties. He is a statistician by trade but uses his technology knowledge to help faculty, staff, and students. He makes himself available both during and after hours.”

“With recent changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chas has been telecommuting and working all hours of the day assisting students with new testing software. Recently he made several ‘house calls’ to students’ place of business and home to assist with computer issues and was able to successfully solve problems for the students on their own personal computers.”

“Chas is always available to help students, faculty, and staff with any computer issues. He goes above and beyond to take care of our department.”

“Chas is very witty and often makes a difficult situation much less stressful with his can-do attitude and willingness to help everyone out, even when things are presented to him very last minute.”

Doris Pratt

20StaffExcellence4.Pratt, a 28-year SHSU employee, currently serves as an administrative coordinator II for the College of Criminal Justice. In her role, Pratt has advised undergraduate and graduate students-- in-state, out state, and international. 

What do you love about your job?

 “What I love most about my job is advising students. Seeing them cross the stage at commencement is the highlight of my job especially after knowing what challenges they have faced and how hard they have worked to get to that point. When I initially began advising students, I thought I would just do this for a little while and then move on to something else, but I ended up really loving it and it was a good fit for me,” Pratt said. “Also, working with the CJ staff and faculty is another reason why I love my job. We’ve had a lot of good times over the years and they have become my second family. We have shared a lot of laughs together in between the hard work.  I have been blessed to work with a really good group of people in criminal justice and other departments on campus.

Comments supporting her nomination:

“Doris is a guide, a counselor, a friend, and sometimes a mother figure for our students. She is one of the most respected individuals that work in our college. She has earned the trust of students, staff, and faculty alike.” 

“She genuinely cares about the students’ professional and personal growth. Ms. Pratt’s calm presence and wise advice helped so many of our students navigate their graduate careers successfully. She is a shoulder to lean on for students when they need it and she celebrates their successes.”

 “Doris excels at all she does. She is the go-to person for every question or situation that arises.”

“Despite the overwhelming work she does, Mrs. Pratt consistently finds ways to help others on campus. Her willingness to assist others and her commitment to CJ Graduate Programs is unrivaled.”

Dee Dee Dirk

20Staff1Dirk has been with Sam Houston State University for 14 years. She currently serves as the assistant to the chair for the Department of Counselor Education in the College of Education.

What do you love about your job?

“I really like my job because I get to help students every day. I know that I must be doing something right with the students, because I get thank you cards from them. That is what it is all about - helping and being there for the students. I have been lucky to have great department chairs that are very supportive and great to work with. Dean Edmonson is the best dean because she is so appreciative of the staff,” Dirk said. “I have really enjoyed working in the College of Education and the Department of Counselor Education for the past 14 years.”

Comments supporting her nomination:

“Ms. Dirk possesses a contagious enthusiasm for optimism and positive thinking. This quality stands out in a large department. She knows each faculty on a personal level and can be counted on for emotional as well as professional support. She genuinely cares and can quickly target a problem, access a resource.”

“Our Dee Dee is the face of the Counseling Program and our students love her! She patiently searches for the information students need and helps them maneuver through the paperwork or computer issues they bring to her.”

“Dee Dee number one priority is to assist students. She consistently goes the extra mile to ensure students have the information they need and to assist them with any issues they may have.”

“Dee Dee is a great listener. In a department with counselors as faculty, I think Dee Dee is our ‘counselor.’ She helps us regulate and calm down at times of stress. She knows how to relate to each faculty member and student office assistants in different and effective ways.”

Jessica Sides

20StaffExcellence5.Sides currently serves as the assistant to the chair in the Department of Educational Leadership in the College of Education. She has held this role at Sam Houston State University for more than two and a half years. 

What do you love about your job?

I was surprised and honored to have been nominated and selected,” Sides said. “I love working with faculty and staff that are so committed to service to their students, the university and their communities. I also love watching our students achieve their educational and professional goals.”

Comments supporting her nomination:

“Jessica demonstrates excellence each and every day. She is committed to the organization’s goals and the people wo make it happen.”

“Jessica knows all the resources within the COE and university and readily provides recommendations as to who to contact to best solve challenges. She is energetic and efficient going over and beyond to ensure faculty’s needs are met.”

 “By all regards, she is an excellent employee, but her quiet nature and selflessness also hide how truly outstanding she is. She never asks for recognition and often avoids it, but it is also that selflessness and humbleness that can sometimes hide just how special she is and the leadership she provides.”

“Jessica has never hesitated to take on extra work. This past year has been challenging for our department – several staff were moved as part of the university’s reorganization. As a result, much of their work and responsibilities fell to her and never once said anything negative about it. She has demonstrated extraordinary leadership at a time when others might be inclined to take a very different approach.”

To see the complete list of previous winners visit

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