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Staff Recognized With Annual 'Excellence' Award

May 13, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Dana Gibson and award winners
University President Dana Gibson (center) congratulates the 2013 Staff Excellence Award winners, who include (from left) Det. Chanda Brown, Tracee Deleon, Julia May and Brandon Cooper. —Photo by Brian Blalock


The four Sam Houston State University employees, whose job performance, abilities, attitude and contributions stand out as “excellent” have been recognized by their peers.

This year’s Staff Excellence Award recipients include Chanda Brown, University Police Department detective; Brandon Cooper, associate director for Student Activities; Tracee Deleon, a custodian for the agricultural and industrial sciences department; and Julia May, associate director for communications.


Chanda Brown

Chanda Brown has been lauded for her evolution from a student assistant on “foot patrol” to one of the University Police Department’s “best police officers.”

Brown joined UPD as a student in 2005 and was promoted to detective in May.

Her colleagues pointed out her diverse skill on the job, focusing on all aspects instead of just one or two, and was particularly praised as “the only officer to rise to the challenge” of moving from officer to detective.

“As a supervisor you can only hope that you have an officer like her on your shift. She needs little direction and is able to handle most situations on her own; however, if she does need help she does not hesitate to seek it,” one nominator said.

“She has a very positive attitude toward her job. She is always willing to step up and take on tasks that others may not want,” the nominator continued. “Her positive outlook also reflects on other officers. She is always worried about how others are doing and is someone that will put others’ needs before her own.”

As a “great teacher and mentor,” who leads by example, Brown was quick to action earlier this year when she observed a transformer blow on 22nd Street.

“While attempting to locate the transformer that blew she noticed that there was a small fire under a house. She was able to get the fire department en-route, notify the homeowners that the house was on fire, and started to evacuate surrounding homes,” a colleague said. “It was later determined that the gas line going to the furnace had ruptured and ignited. Brown’s quick thinking saved countless lives that night.”

In addition to participating in outreach on campus, giving presentations to various departments, Brown plays an essential role in community outreach activities such as the development of the child identification kits, and often encourages UPD employees to participate in city activities.

“In our job duties, it can be difficult to receive just a simple thank you for doing your daily job,” another nominator said. “Over the last year, I have noted that Det. Brown receives many accolades from across campus regarding her job performance. When one has an employee that represents your department in this manner, it makes off of our jobs that much easier.”

Brandon Cooper

Associate director for Student Activities Brandon Cooper “encompasses what it means to be a Bearkat.”

In his role in Student Activities, Cooper is responsible for some of the university’s largest and highest-attended events, including Homecoming Week, the Tree of Light Ceremony, the Sammy Awards, Sammypalooza and pre-game tailgating events. He also oversees the spirit programs and is adviser to Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

“This ability to work in so many diverse environments is what makes him outstanding,” one nominator said. “Brandon often develops programs with little budgets and makes them grand products. He is always multi-tasking and working on 10 different events at the same time, while giving all of them his all.”

“He is innovative and resourceful, contributing unique suggestions on ways to improve current events or provide solutions to problems, yet he is always a member of the team and is held in high regard by those who work with him,” another nominator said. “Brandon is an outstanding leader who is involved in many organizations and committees across campus and in the community. He prides himself on helping individuals and groups learn about SHSU traditions and history.”

In addition, Cooper’s interpersonal skills and “excellent rapport with people of all ages” and his giving nature is valued by the entire university community.

“Brandon is always giving himself to others, but especially when it comes to students,” a nominator said. “He often puts everything aside to either help mentor a student, help them get the services they need, or help them with a cause they are passionate about.

His infectious attitude, always having a smile on his face and a laugh to share with those with whom he works, motivates those around him, both staff and students, to achieve more, colleagues noted.

“He is Mr. Sam Houston,” a colleague said. “We often tease him that because he and Sam Houston’s birthday are on the same day that he must channel that same honor and integrity and energy that Sam Houston did.”

Tracee Deleon

Tracee Deleon, a custodian for the agricultural and industrial sciences department, is called an “active component” of the program, whose work goes above and beyond her title.

In her role, she is responsible for the care of the Ag Complex facilities on Interstate 45, including the horticulture facilities, meats lab, indoor arena complex, and the boarded horses at the indoor complex.

Part of her work in the meats lab involves ensuring it stays within USDA compliance, requiring her not only to clean the facility but also to maintain the refrigeration equipment, and make sure all safety precautions are in place when students are in the lab.

“Tracee excels in her position. I can always count on her to be where I need her to be, ahead of schedule, with everything prepared and ready to go,” one nominator said. “She makes my teaching job so much easier because she is outstanding at predicting what I need and when I need it. She manages our teaching needs, and balances the students’ needs at the same time.”

“Tracee does an excellent job of balancing a position that requires multi-tasking and a wide variety of skills—from managing the meats lab, equine stables, greenhouse, classrooms and covered arena,” another nominator said. “She is excellent with her interaction with students and is seen as more than just a lady that cleans up; more as a mentor and facility manager.”

Her work with the students was among the most commented upon by her colleagues, along with her dependability, work ethic, trustworthiness, honesty and positive attitude.

“She loves our students,” a colleague said. “She has blended into our program and has become an essential part of the unique culture of service our department offers our students.”

This love, another colleague noted, extends beyond simply helping students in the in the labs and at the complex.

“She will recommend a student who she knows has a talent in such area,” another nominator said. “Many students have received part-time employment because of her SHSU pride and promoting the students of SHSU.”

Julia May

As the associate director for communications at SHSU, Julia May is the face of the university as its public information officer and the person behind many of the university’s publications and, at times, its most important, least visible activities.

May joined the SHSU staff, in the then-public information office, in 1981.

Since then, she has been responsible for promoting SHSU through news releases, Today@Sam and other publications; served as a liaison between the university and the media to provide expert sources for stories and in emergency situations; served as editor for several of the university’s most visible publications, including the Heritage magazine, which is distributed to more than 100,000 alumni and friends; and managed, developed and implemented the SHSU crisis communication strategy.

Colleagues noted May’s writing abilities, her organization, her innovation with redesigning the Heritage and producing its contents semiannually, her efficiency and being “always on top of her game” as some of her many strengths.

“Julia embodies excellence,” one nominator said. “She is explicitly trusted by our department, our division, and the administration as a whole to perform tasks, unsupervised, that affect the university’s image and its collective body.

“She is a multi-tasker, is trusted to fill roles higher-level administrators perform at other universities, and, most importantly, serves as the ‘mother figure’ of our office,” the nominator continued. “She is the person we vent to and is often the much-needed voice of reason; she is, without a doubt, the ‘harmonious’ voice in our office and division.”

May’s confidence and influence are reflected both on her co-workers, student writers, and on the many students she gives public relations presentations for, as well as the young women in Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, for whom she served as an adviser for many years and in which role she was recognized with a Sammy Award in 2007.

“Her positivity and love for this job not only motivates her but inspires us all. When we are given tasks that we may not want to perform, we do them simply because we know that our work impacts one another, and, very often, Julia in particular,” a nominator said. “We do better for her, and not even necessarily because she wants us to do better or even asks us to do better, but because we don’t want to disappoint her.”



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