March 21, 2008

Gibson, Waldron capture Excellence Awards

by Eric Welch

Karen Gibson

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Two Civil Service employees are winners of Excellence Through Commitment Awards at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Karen Gibson is the Outstanding Civil Service Employee and Karen Waldron the Outstanding Civil Service Teacher Support Employee for 2008.

They will be honored, along with other faculty, staff and graduate assistants, at the Excellence Through Commitment Awards dinner on April 22 in the Student Center. Gibson and Waldron each will receive a $3,000 award, a wristwatch from the SIU Alumni Association and a certificate recognizing their contributions to the University.

Gibson came to SIUC in 1976 as a central sterile supply technician and then moved on to work in General Stores and Physical Plant Services. In 2000, she became the storekeeper in the Department of Zoology, where she has garnered praise from co-workers, faculty and students.

William Muhlach, chair of the zoology department, wrote in his nomination letter: "Without a doubt, Karen Gibson is the most amazing Civil Service Professional I have ever had the good fortune to work with."

"Her work as Storekeeper III for a very large, successful and extremely diverse program, such as Zoology, has truly been superior, if not colossal," he wrote.

Matt Whiles, associate professor of zoology, wrote that Gibson is a "pleasant, hard working, and talented person who goes well beyond what her job description dictates to help faculty members, and the Department of Zoology in general, function smoothly."

"I have now worked with numerous individuals in her position, or similar positions, at five different institutions, and she is truly in a league of her own."

Muhlach wrote, "Along with being an organizer, planner, and problem solver, Karen Gibson has been an educator in her own right."

He said she is the one who actually helps new faculty, post-doctoral appointees and graduate assistants to practically prepare for the challenges of laboratory instruction.

"Karen is my go-to person for just about anything to do with the functioning of the university. Her freely offered help has saved me a huge amount of time and much aggravation," wrote Richard Thomas, associate professor of zoology.

Aside from her normal duties, Gibson has assisted the Fraternal Order of Eagles in raising funds to help support graduate student training and research at SIUC.

She has also volunteered at the Educational Talent Search, an event that helps seventh- and eighth-grade students explore different careers.

"Karen's expertise in technology, along with her commitment to help area young people explore information technology career paths, is a perfect match for our School's participation in this program," wrote William Devenport, director of the School of Information Systems and Applied Sciences, in a nomination letter.

Waldron, an administrative aide in the School of Journalism, has been at SIUC since 1986. She has spent all 22 years in the same department and has become a constant for both faculty and students.

"I can't stress to you enough that without her, we would be lost. She is like electricity," wrote Anita Stoner, visiting professor, in her nomination letter. "Ms. Waldron deserves this award in part because she is the one person the School of Journalism most could not afford to lose."

"Her work has personified 'excellence' in every sense of the word. She has become an expert in the University's budgeting and personnel system, and the secretarial staff throughout our College turns to her for advice on processes and procedures," wrote Walter Jaehnig, associate professor and former director of the school.

"Something that I have always appreciated about Mrs. Waldron's work is that she is always available when the work needs to be completed," he wrote. "She will come in early, or stay late, or make herself available on weekends when activities of the school need her."

Several faculty commended Waldron for her willingness to go beyond her job description for the good of the school.

"If it happens in the School of Journalism, Karen is a part of it," wrote Vicki Kreher in a nomination letter. "Whether help is needed in support of committee work, with student organizations, or giving tours, Karen is there."

"Ms. Waldron also works to extend our school's presence in the region and the state," Stoner commented. "Thanks to Mrs. Waldron's efforts with these groups, high school students visit our campus and many of them decide to apply and attend here."

Waldron even voluntarily served without pay on the 2006 College of Mass Communication and Media Arts Dean's Review Committee, bringing balance and wisdom to the discussion and often working past midnight. She also played a significant role in the school's accreditation process, compiling thousands of pages of material.

By overseeing registered student organizations, maintaining the department Web site and, not to mention, running an entire office for two decades, Waldron has become what assistant professor Laura Hlavach called the "'glue' that has held the School of Journalism together."

"When I have a tough decision to make, I always ask Karen," wrote William Freivogel, director of the School of Journalism. "Not only does she have the institutional memory to provide the historical context, but she also has the good common sense to know the right thing to do. No one is more important to the School of Journalism."

Waldron Karen