During a Hawaiian-themed employee luncheon in Prothro today — part of the first professional development day at Sweet Briar — College leaders announced the winners of this year’s ROSE Awards. Launched in 2006, the awards honor staff excellence across campus. Nominations are made by supervisors and co-workers; award winners each receive a plaque and a $500 stipend. Their names are also engraved on a plaque in Prothro.
Melissa Richards, vice president for communications and enrollment management, led the ceremony, while President Meredith Woo presented nominees and award winners with their certificates and plaques — and lots of hugs.
Excellence in Innovation honors a staff member who implemented an idea that resulted in measurable improvement on campus. This year, there were two winners — Amie Chenault at the riding center and Melanie Campbell in admissions. Campbell’s efforts are illustrated perfectly by her nomination: “Have you ever tried to learn AND implement a new customer service platform? If you haven’t, it isn’t easy. At all. But I watched Melanie struggle to learn ‘Slate’ while smiling to teach our office one more step to make [us] more efficient. Melanie worked diligently to help make our office part of the 21st century. … Operations staff and counselors truly appreciate the work Melanie does to help us work smarter, improve our customer service, track our work, and on and on.”
Chenault, who was nominated in two categories, was praised for researching and implementing a rebate program for horse feed that has helped the College save money. She also worked “on many other projects to improve — and make safer — the stables for our staff, horses and students,” the nomination reads. “Without her, the riding center would have an enormous hole,” her nomination for Excellence in Service notes. “She’s thoroughly committed, does whatever is needed to keep things running smoothly, and has a great sense of humor.”
Excellence as a Team Member recognizes staff members who exhibit high levels of teamwork both in their department and across the College. This year’s winner was Cassie Foster Evans in communications. “Cassie has gone above and beyond in her duties, taking an insane amount of excellent photos over the last year,” her nomination reads. “She’s not afraid to learn something new, jumps in to help with graphic design when she’s needed and adds new responsibilities to her plate, even when her weekends and nights are already booked with back-to-back photo shoots. Overall, Cassie’s stellar work has made a huge impact at Sweet Briar and beyond, as can be seen in our fierce new marketing materials.”
Excellence in Service honors those who provide exemplary service to members of the extended Sweet Briar community. This year’s winner, Justin Ferrell, was nominated twice in this category for demonstrating excellence in campus safety, particularly during the April 15 tornado. One nomination noted he displayed “bravery and professionalism” in a situation that required “quick thinking and action.”
The Presidential Award is given to an employee who displays high character, dedication to the College, commitment to results and who values the College and its community. In 2018, there were two winners in this category: Bonnie Seitz in alumnae relations and development and Nancy McDearmon in galleries. McDearmon, who recently retired after two decades at Sweet Briar, was nominated three times for this award, as well as five times for Excellence in Service and three times for Excellence as a Team Member.
“Nancy has worked tirelessly to keep the galleries and museum running smoothly this past academic year, going above and beyond the call of duty,” one nomination reads. “She has taken on many of the duties without complaint, including curating and hanging shows, working with Friends of Art, and looking after the welfare of the collection. Nancy is also fiercely committed to the students and serving their needs. She serves quietly and diligently behind the scenes, and in my opinion deserves this recognition.” Another nomination praises McDearmon as a “rock star,” noting she produced more than 10 shows last year: “She is my superhero and I admire her determination and heart. Nancy has inspired me to narrow down a career path and I am forever thankful.”
Seitz was lauded for her quiet, steadfast commitment to Sweet Briar during her 32 years at the College. “For as long as I can remember, she has always come in two hours early to start her day,” her nomination reads. “She is very devoted to Sweet Briar and the mission of the College. She works so quietly that sometimes it is hard to know if she is even still here without peeking into her room to see her there still working on two computers at once. She is very Banner-savvy and a sustaining force during Reunion. She handles problems with the greatest of ease and makes our work so much easier. We would be lost without her.”
Other ROSE Award nominees this year included Beverly Tipps (Excellence in Innovation); John Bailey, Gertie Coley, Kristie Evans, Luther Griffith and Savannah Oxner (Excellence as a Team Member); Luther Griffith, Jaze Spradley, Ronnie Staton and Beverly Tipps (Excellence in Service); and Claire Griffith, Luther Griffith, Mary Pope Hutson, Amy Ostroth, BJ Phaup, Kathleen Placidi and Mimi Wroten (Presidential Award).
Before the ROSE Award ceremony, Luther Griffith was presented with the Volunteer Service Award by Barbara Watts, director of career services, for his generous volunteer work in the Career Services Center over the last two years.