April 07, 2009

Hancock, Gardner win Excellence awards

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- James E. Hancock and Jennifer R. Gardner are 2009 Excellence Through Commitment Award recipients at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Hancock is the Outstanding Civil Service Employee and Gardner is the Outstanding Civil Service Teaching Support award winner.

Hancock and Gardner will join other honorees at the Excellence Through Commitment Awards dinner next month. The dinner is at 6 p.m., April 21, in the Student Center.

Hancock and Gardner both will receive a monetary award, a wristwatch from the SIU Alumni Association, a certificate recognizing their contributions to the University, and a reserved parking space on campus for one year. The awards are two of the Excellence Awards funded centrally by the University.

Hancock, who is from Carbondale, came to SIUC in September 1997 and is a university safety officer with the Center for Environmental Health and Safety. His duties include ensuring the University is in compliance with state and federal regulations pertaining to a safe and healthy work environment for employees, students and visitors. That includes conducting campus health and safety inspections, investigating incidents and injuries, developing health and safety programs, and conducting health and safety training and advising departments on health and safety issues.

Paul J. Restivo, director of the University’s Center for Environmental Health and Safety, wrote in his nomination letter that Hancock “is the prototype of a team player and he is an outstanding employee who continues to make a tremendously positive impact in all that he does to support the mission of CEHS and SIUC.”

Restivo writes that Hancock is a “go-to resource” for the University’s Building Emergency Response Teams, or BERT, and co-chairs the committee, showing “how much faith the administration has in his abilities.”

In addition to responding to hundreds of diverse campus community safety and health concerns and requests for information and assistance annually, Restivo notes Hancock also assists academic programs, serving as guest lecturer in classes several times a year. He is an internship and practicum supervisor for undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Health Education and Recreation, and the new master’s in public health program, Restivo wrote. Hancock is also vice president of the Southern Illinois Safety Council.

“By participating in such roles, Jim creates a good deal of extra work for himself; his efforts go above and beyond the call of duty of his position, for which he never complains,” Restivo wrote. “Jim truly understands and supports the University’s goal of becoming the ‘Best Student-Responsive Public University in Illinois.’ He exemplifies how all SIUC employees can help us reach this worthy aspiration.”

Prior to working at SIUC, Hancock held various positions in the coal mining industry with AMAX Coal Co.’s Delta Mine in Marion. He returned to college, receiving an associate degree from John A. Logan College. He earned his bachelor’s degree from SIUC in university studies, with a concentration on environmental studies and occupational health and safety. His master’s degree from SIUC is in education with a concentration on occupational health and safety training.

Dawn Wilson, the safety coordinator for the University’s Plant and Service Operations, wrote Hancock was instrumental in forming the University’s partnership with John A. Logan College’s Center for Business and Industry, which provides free, monthly occupational health and safety training courses to plant and service operations staff.

Gardner, a local area network support specialist, has been with the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield since 2000. In her current job in the Department of Internal Medicine since October 2005, Gardner, who is from Springfield, is responsible for the department’s computer network, which includes four servers and three data closets, along with desktop support overseeing more than 300 computers and 200 users. As webmaster, Gardner designs and maintains the internal medicine department’s Intranet and department Web site -- http://www.siumed.edu/medicine. She also is the electronic health record project manager, in addition to her administrative and supervisory duties.

Sue Houston, director of office operations and communication services in the School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, nominated Gardner for the honor. She notes the important role Gardner plays in implementing the electronic health record installed at SIU Physicians and Surgeons. Even without clinical experience, Gardner “took charge of the implementation team” and kept the group focused throughout design and implementation, Houston wrote.

“She has been the linchpin in the process with her ability to relate to and, conversely, explain to the users how the system works at a level they can understand,” Houston wrote, noting Gardner also created a complete user’s manual and comprehensive training program for staff and residents.

“She worked tirelessly on this project and was still able to maintain control of the other aspects of her job,” Houston wrote. “While others were ready to throw up their hands, Jennifer maintained her composure, working with frustrated doctors, clinic staff and programmers through the process. It continues to be a work in progress, but we would not be where we are if it weren’t for Jennifer’s dedication to this project.”

Concerns over the lack of a central information source because the campus is spread out prompted Gardner to create an intranet site, Houston wrote. In addition to general departmental information, the site contains a “comprehensive departmental directory of every employee, resident and fellow with their picture and contact information,” which Gardner maintains with new employees, Houston wrote.

Gardner also participates in new employee orientations, and serves on school-wide committees, including the computer advisory group.

Dr. Don W. Scott, an associate professor of internal medicine, notes Gardner’s leadership with the electronic health record, centricity implementation team, and in particular, praises her interpersonal skills and positive demeanor.

“She is able to maintain a positive, constructive, enthusiastic attitude through work that was often hampered by setbacks, delays, lack of resources and staff, and frequent turnovers of key personnel,” Scott wrote. “More importantly, Jennifer helps to inspire these qualities in others. Jennifer is able to keep her head when others about her are losing theirs.”

Gardner is a “true role-model for others in what excellence, dedication and leadership mean,” Scott wrote.

Gardner recently earned Civil Service Employee of the Year from the SIU School of Medicine. Her other awards include two awards for employee of the month from the School of Medicine, and employee of the month from the medical school’s internal medicine department.

James HancockJennifer Gardner