April 18, 2011

Don Castle named outstanding A/P employee

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A leader at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s central gathering place for students is the winner of this year’s Outstanding Administrative Professional Award.

The University is honoring Don Castle, assistant director of the Student Center, for his outstanding contributions to the facility’s central role in the life the University’s students. The award is part of SIUC’s annual Excellence Through Commitment Awards program, which highlights top achievers at the University.

Chancellor Rita Cheng will host a reception in the winners’ honor on Tuesday, April 19, at Morris Library, where she will present each with a certificate. The University established the Excellence Through Commitment program in 2003. The awards recognize excellence in the performance of faculty, civil service, administrative/professional, graduate student, and student employees.

Castle will receive a certificate and designated parking space for one year.

An SIUC employee since 1987, Castle currently coordinates student development and programming. He advises the Student Programming Council, which produces more than 400 events each year and serves as its designated fiscal officer, managing a budget of more than $200,000. Castle also advises the student-run radio station, WIDB, a student-run cable TV show on SPC-TV, as well as Internet broadcasting services.

“Don is the type of individual who is respected by both his peers and the administration,” said Tena Bennett, Student Center associate director, who nominated for Castle for the honor. “He has developed the respect of the students, faculty, staff and community members for his positive attitude and excellent skills. His work ethic is second to none in that he accepts all challenges handed to him. His ability to complete a project start to finish in a positive and polished manner had made him invaluable to our team.”

When campus-wide events come to SIUC, chances are Castle is deeply involved. He coordinates programs such as Saluki Family Weekend, SIUC Homecoming, the Sunset Concert series and the University’s Spring Thing. At the same time, he teaches students leadership with programs, retreats and classes while also acting as a liaison to other campus departments and local community groups and government.

Castle excels at building networks, Bennett said.

“He has the charisma and personality to make others feel at ease while building essential relationships,” she said. “His outstanding communication and people skills, along with his commitment to the programs we serve, attention to detail and the ability to work with a diverse group of individuals and agencies have been key in building a successful University programming department.”

Castle is a also a big exporter of Saluki pride, coordinating the activities of 50 student athletes in the Saluki Sprit Squads including University cheerleaders, Saluki Shakers and mascots and supervising two part-time student coaches who are involved with the spirit activities.

Castle has served on scores of committees during his tenure, including the Historical Commemorations Committee, Black History Month Committee, Asian American Awareness Month Committee, Administrative Professional Judicial Review Board, Hispanic Heritage Month Committee and many others. He is the recipient of many professional awards from the Association of College Unions International and the National Association for Campus Activities.

Ron Dunkel, manager of the Craft Shop at the Student Center, said Castle demonstrates a deep commitment to SIUC students.

“His commitment is demonstrated not only through the work he is paid to do, but the ways in which he freely gives of his personal time,” Dunkel said, pointing to Castle’s work advising the Golden Key National Honor Society for students and his assisting students in securing scholarships and professional development.

“Don is the type of supervisor and University employee who demonstrates excellence though commitment on a daily basis,” he said.