Five Earn WSU Employee Excellence Awards

PULLMAN, Wash. — Five Washington State University staff members will receive the Employee Excellence Award during a public ceremony Tuesday.

Those earning the 2001 awards are Jeanne Dahmen, Registrar’s Office; Kathleen Duncan, College of Agriculture and Home Economics; Tom Martin, Chemistry; Jill Palmer, Holland Library; and Wanda Walters, Business, WSU Tri-Cities.

The public program to recognize the winners is set for 11 a.m. in the Compton Union Building Cascade Room.

Dahmen, an undergraduate graduation supervisor, is one of those rare individuals whom colleagues say is really indispensable to WSU. Her area involves clearing students for graduation and keeping track of those important and complex records, including substitutions and more. Nearly every student who graduates from WSU has direct contact with Dahmen or one of her immediate staff.

“Her job, with its mixture of public service, record-keeping and policy interpretation, is a demanding one. Every student with a problem in meeting the graduation requirements or in getting transfer credits properly approved gets her personal attention,” one supporter said. She brings common sense and empathy for the students to all the individual cases she deals with. At the same time, she is a champion of the integrity of WSU’s degrees and academic standings. This balanced and sympathetic viewpoint is invaluable both to WSU and to students.

“She never wastes time with ‘sorry it is too late or can’t be done,’ she just sees that it is done. She keeps WSU looking good and makes my job easy,” another staff member said. Dahmen has been at the university since 1978.

Duncan, information systems coordinator, created the Accountability Information and Communications System, a flexible, multipurpose Web-based system to collect annual review information from all faculty and most administrative professionals in CAHE. It also enables college administrators to compile information for a multitude of reports.

In January, she was one of five from across the nation asked to serve on a national committee of state extension service people to advise the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service as it develops specifics for its evaluation and accountability system. Her contributions of programming expertise, creative ideas and an understanding of designing a system that is “user friendly” have greatly enhanced her projects. “She’s an outstanding employee whose performance has garnered us national attention,” said one supporter. Duncan began working in the college in 1981.

When faculty and students move to other positions, they inevitably remark the thing they miss the most is having Martin troubleshoot their problems for them.

The budget/finance manager is the focal point of essentially every decision involving facilities, finances and personnel that go through chemistry department and now much of the School of Molecular Biosciences. The task involves working with as many as 80 faculty and staff, more than 100 graduate students, numerous undergraduate time-slip employees and a host of senior researchers from all over the world and a combined budget of nearly $14 million.

The key characteristic is his innate ability to identify problems and their solutions almost before they happen, said one nominator. He is a genius in cutting to the heart of a problem and then coming up with a fair and equitable solution. Martin knows just how to handle each individual personality, when to be assertive, when to listen and when to speak.

“All in all, he is a master of what he does and a lifesaver for those he serves,” said one nominator. Martin joined WSU in 1983.

Palmer, library circulation supervisor, is responsible for the circulation unit at Holland/New Library as well as for libraries-wide circulation coordination. She oversaw the merger of two units, new procedures and routing as well as retraining—all a great success, said her nominator. She is also chiefly responsible for implementing two new library services that have received rave reviews: Request Item, implemented last spring, allows library users to request books for delivery to the circulation desk of their choice; and Cascade, a service that moves books among all six publicly supported university that began last summer.

Morale is very high in her unit. Staff and student workers are proud of their achievements, and library circulation functions work well.

In a year, Palmer deals with thousands of library users. She and her staff are unfailingly courteous and service-minded. They are the first-line personnel that create a positive service environment. She has been with WSU since 1981.

Program coordinator Walters joined WSU Tri-Cities’ business unit a year ago and had to immediately take over administrative duties, including the needs of seven resident faculty, 15 adjunct faculty, 100 undergraduate and 60 graduate students. Her supporters said she literally learned her role, all duties and responsibilities on her own. She has been on the Tri-Cities campus since 1997.

She regularly goes out of her way to take care of students, especially the graduate students because she handles so much of their paperwork and advising, and they don’t hesitate to show their appreciation. Her positive, cheerful attitude makes her a very successful recruiter and adviser for MBA and undergraduate students. Walters is an extremely creative problem-solver. She also has gone beyond the extra mile to make things special for the job candidates that have interviewed at the branch campus.

The employee awards program began in 1989. Since that time, some 35 people have been recognized for their exemplary efforts.