April 10, 2006

Hooper wins Civil Service Award for 2006

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Rhonda L. Hooper, a 23-year employee of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the recipient of the University's Outstanding Civil Service Award for 2006.

Hooper, from De Soto, was among six finalists for the award, which recognizes individuals who go above and beyond in their service to the University and community. Hooper, an administrative assistant I in Institutional Research and Studies, has worked in the department for 20 years and in her current position since 2004.

The announcement came during the Civil Service spring constituency meeting Friday, April 7, at the SIUC Student Center.

This is the second time Hooper was nominated for the award. She receives a $2,000 cash award, a marked reserved parking space on campus for one year, an engraved plaque, has her name added to the permanent plaque displayed near the Student Center River Rooms, and will be among those recognized at the Chancellor's recognition dinner Thursday, April 27. The Outstanding Civil Service Award is one of the Excellence Achieved Awards funded centrally by the University.

"I am just shocked and very thankful. I don't do the things I do to get awards but I appreciate this very much," Hooper said.

Hooper started at the University in 1979 as a secretary II transcribing in the Division of Continuing Education. From 1980 to 1982, she worked as a secretary III transcribing in continuing education. She returned to the University in 1986 after working for three years in Springfield.

In 1999, Hooper received the SIUC Civil Service Woman of Distinction Award.

Hooper has a "long-standing" commitment to the University and community service, wrote her nominator, Linda L. Benz, assistant director of external reporting in Institutional Research and Studies.

Hooper is the University's External Reporting Data Coordinator, and "is extremely conscientious about the accuracy of the data first and foremost and then secondly, she pays close attention to how the selection of certain data will make the University look in comparison to others," Benz wrote. Hooper is not satisfied "with a response to a certain data item unless she is convinced that this is the best response our campus can provide," Benz wrote.

In her nomination letter, Benz told how Hooper exceeded normal job expectations when a department staff member became completely deaf, and Hooper took sign language classes to be able to conduct business.

Benz also noted that since 2002 Hooper has been a "very active" member of Saluki Walkers Always Triumph (SWAT) – an American Cancer Society Relay for Life team – that raised more than $30,000 last year. She serves as a mentor to SIUC students living on the third floor of Mae Smith Residence Hall through the University Associate program.

Benz wrote that Hooper promotes the University in her community and "sets an example for all SIUC staff …" Hooper's "desire to bring up our young people to feel comfortable with culture and diversity within our smaller communities" was demonstrated when she recently asked an Indian female student to speak to her son's grade school in De Soto, Benz wrote.

"It is very important to her that the richness of the offerings of SIUC be brought to the smaller communities surrounding Carbondale," Benz wrote.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September, Hooper served in feeding and child care units in Bogalusa, La., as part of the Illinois Baptist Association Disaster Relief Team. She also was a team coordinator for response to Hurricane Wilma in October. She is currently on call to provide disaster relief to tornado victims in Caruthersville, Mo.

"She has a compassionate heart and always offers a helping hand to someone who is in need or someone who needs kindness," Benz wrote.

Active in De Soto First Baptist Church, Hooper's many community activities includes serving as treasurer since 1996 of the De Soto Grade School Education Foundation, and as a grade school volunteer since 1989.

Hooper and her husband, Robert, have two children, a daughter Heather, and a son, Bret.

The other nominees were:

  • Judi L. Cockrum, Office Systems Specialist III, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Energy Processes. Employed at SIUC since 1983. Cockrum, from Dahlgren, was the driving force behind establishing the Dahlgren Reading Center -- which later became a public library where Cockrum also works as librarian and treasurer and has volunteered for more than 20 years.
  • Nancy L. Mallett, Office Systems Specialist II, economics department. Employed at SIUC since 1981. Serves as assistant to the department chair, and among her duties is supervising student workers, and is credited for the smooth operation of day-to-day functions. Mallett, who is from De Soto, also participates as a volunteer in the Meals on Wheels program.
  • Jeri L. Novara, Office Systems Specialist III, School of Accountancy. Employed at SIUC since 1980. She serves as office manager and administrative assistant to the director of the
  • School of Accountancy. In addition to her job-related duties, Novara, of Murphysboro, regularly works with three student organizations in fund-raising and support activities. She coordinates the annual Accounting Challenge Competition for high school students and is heavily involved in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
  • Crystal R. Null, Residency Coordinator, SIU Family Medicine Center in Carbondale. Employed at SIUC since 1988, including the last 16 years with the Family Medicine Center. Null, of Cobden, helps schedule medical students' electives, and helps with the Literacy Project, and with the design of medical literature for the illiterate. She heads up a Quality Improvement Committee at SIU Family Medicine, and helps coordinate learning experiences for high school students who are interested in medical careers.
  • Glenda D. Sullivan, Office Systems Specialist III, MEDPREP at SIUC. Employed at SIUC since 1996, including the last six with the Medical/Dental Education Preparatory Program. Sullivan, from Murphysboro, assists students, faculty and staff on numerous projects outside of work.

Giving special recognition to University employees who foster pride within their office or department and community involvement are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Hooper wins Civil Service Award for 2006

Outstanding Civil Service employee –
Rhonda L. Hooper (left) an
administrative assistant I in
Institutional Research and Studies at
Southern Illinois University Carbondale,
is congratulated by Chancellor Walter
V. Wendler on her selection Friday, April
7, as the University’s 2006 Outstanding
Civil Service Award recipient. Hooper,
who lives in De Soto, has been at the
University for 23 years. She was one of
six nominees for the annual award that
recognizes individuals who give above
and beyond to the University and community.
Download Photo Here