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SHSU President Bobby K. Marks, left, and Sandra Bays, far right, chair of the Staff Excellence Award Committee, pose with the 1998-'99 Staff Excellence Award winners, from left to right, Beth Miles, Richard Jenkins and Gwen Penny.


Hard Work, Enthusiasm, Loyalty Typify
Winners of 1998-'99 Staff Excellence Award

Faster than a speeding bullet? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Well, not quite. But the winners of SHSU's 1998-'99 Staff Excellence Award are, in the eyes of their coworkers, super heroes in most every respect.

Friendly, enthusiastic and exceptionally adept at their jobs, the three SHSU employees honored this year for superlative service to the university community are Richard Jenkins, a custodian charged with care of the Beto Criminal Justice Center; Beth Miles, assistant director of the university advancement office; and Gwen Penny, secretary for the department of physics.

Though charged with distinctively different tasks, the trio share qualities essential to SHSU's esprit de corps. They are passionate, loyal, and extraordinarily dedicated to their work; kindhearted, unselfish, and greatly admired by their peers.

That admiration was emphatically and repeatedly stated in the testimonies submitted to the Staff Excellence Award Committee on behalf of Richard Jenkins, who has served on SHSU's custodial staff for six years.

The pride Jenkins takes in his work, they said, is reflected in the always immaculate condition of the Criminal Justice Center, one of the heaviest-used facilities on campus.

On many occasions visitors to the center have complimented the building's appearance.

As one visitor from the U.S. Department of Justice wrote: "I was very impressed with the demeanor of Mr. Jenkins. He was friendly, engaging, and in short, it was apparent that he was a major reason that the facility is as clean as a hospital."

Another fan of Jenkins wrote, "The public judges our institution -- and by extension, all of us -- by the appearance of our buildings and grounds. And to a degree, appearances do indicate the attitude of personnel and the effectiveness of programs. By his strong work ethic and his dedication to the Criminal Justice Center, Richard Jenkins has successfully communicated a positive public relations image for the center and the university."

In addition to his extraordinary custodial performance, Jenkins was praised for his ability to anticipate and meet the needs of the criminal justice staff and faculty and for his amiable demeanor.

"He is an extremely personable and friendly person, and these personality characteristics reflect favorably on the university," wrote one of the many friends who nominated Jenkins for the award.

A personable disposition is also a virtue ascribed to staff excellence honoree Beth Miles.

Now in her 13th year of service to the university, Miles has solicited enrichment funds for SHSU since 1990 when the university advancement office was founded by former SHSU President Martin Anisman. Prior to that, she worked as an administrative assistant to the vice president of administration.

During her tenure with the advancement office, Miles has served twice as interim director, and has played an integral role in the office's many successes.

Miles' admirers praised her "polished" communicative talents and her "can-do" spirit in nominations to the Staff Excellence Award Committee.

"She is an excellent writer and is always warm and caring with each individual she comes in contact with," wrote a co-worker.

"I have always had an extremely favorable impression of her abilities," wrote another fan. "She writes well and handles people very well."

Her supporters agreed that Miles is a highly motivated person whose love for her job, people, and the university is contagious.

"She demonstrates a positive attitude for SHSU and encourages those around her to do likewise," wrote one.

"She is a delight to work with either in person or on the telephone because she routinely exhibits enthusiasm for her work," said another.

Miles advocacy for the university is demonstrated daily in her quests to secure funding for SHSU enrichment initiatives.

"She is always looking for new sources of funding," a nominator wrote. "She is always seeking new ideas to enhance her department and SHSU."

Miles was also commended for her unwavering loyalty to SHSU.

"Overall, working with Beth has been a pleasure. There is always something to learn from her. She is a true professional, proud of SHSU, and proud to be a part of it. This pride is truly reflected in her work."

While a strong work ethic is a trait common to all three staff excellence award winners, the amount of work routinely accomplished by secretary Gwen Penny astounds even the scientists with whom she works daily in the SHSU physics department.

Even more astounding is that Penny remains "unfailingly pleasant" as she tackles the many and varied tasks put before her.

Penny has offered an invaluable service to the physics department for the last eight years. As secretary she facilitates the demands imposed on her by 10 active faculty members, up to 20 graduate students and about 60 physics majors.

In addition to keeping up with the faculty's teaching, research and service activities, she handles all phone and mail correspondences, oversees numerous accounts, prepares bids for the purchasing department, coordinates lab schedules, prepares travel applications, types grants, and maintains the department's property inventory.

Throughout it all she remains "an excellent representative of the university, always polite and pleasant to the students who come to the department with questions or problems."

Working with students is a big part of Penny's job. Because many of SHSU's graduate physics students are from foreign countries, Penny is the first one they turn to when they need an explanation or interpretation.

"She consistently offers a sympathetic ear and a helpful answer for these students, easing the cultural differences."

Serving the department above and beyond the call of duty is all in a day's work for Penny. In spring of 1995, she assisted in mailing out and processing over 1000 registration forms when SHSU hosted a national scientific gathering. She even volunteered to work the registration table in the evenings and weekends during the event.

"Many of the contributions to the department and university which Mrs. Penny makes, such as picking up refreshments for our weekly departmental colloquia, are certainly not covered in the usual job descriptions for a secretary," a faculty member wrote to the committee.

The three winners of the 1998-99 SHSU Staff Excellence Award will be publicly recognized by SHSU President Bobby K. Marks at the annual staff meeting this August. Each honoree will be presented a plaque and a check for $1000.


Media Contact: Phillip Rollfing
May 5, 1998

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