Five earn annual President’s Employee Excellence Awards


Josh Rodriguez, left, Rudy Garza, Tom Parrish, Darrel Nelson and Don Hulst

OTHELLO and PULLMAN, Wash. – Five staff members will receive 2016-17 President’s Employee Excellence Awards at the Celebrating Excellence Recognition Banquet on March 31, part of Washington State University’s annual Showcase celebration of faculty, staff and student achievement.

Make banquet reservations through March 17 at Learn more about the week’s events at

The awards recognize civil service and administrative professional staff for outstanding contributions regarding work quality, efficiency, productivity, problem solving, work relations and community service. Learn more about the award at

The honorees are:

Josue (Josh) Rodriguez and Raul (Rudy) Garza, farmers in the Department of Horticulture at WSU’s Columbia Basin research center in Othello.

This team works cheerfully and without complaint in the potato research program. When they work inside, it is in a bare-bones facility with no heat or air conditioning. But their work is typically done outside, in the Columbia Basin, where July temperatures can hit 100 degrees and where spring and fall rains whip sideways.

Rodriguez and Garza also deal with faculty who are engaged in diverse research projects. The two are asked to supervise graduate students who sometimes are unfamiliar with field work, which with potatoes means plenty of dirt/mud and heavy lifting – “Yet under their supervision, every aspect of the field season from planting to harvest runs smoothly,” said a nominator.

Tom Parrish, custodial services director for Facilities Services at WSU Pullman.

He comes up with creative solutions while balancing the desire for new technologies with the realities of budgets and reliable proven methods. The responsibilities he allots to staff are specific and well documented in order to cover absences, evaluate problems and identify training opportunities. He helps staff prioritize the areas that will have most impact.

Parrish takes a genuine interest in employees; for example, he scheduled a benefits planning session to help specifically address their questions and he encourages staff to use the tuition waiver benefit to take classes at WSU.

Darrel Nelson, instructional lab supervisor for anatomy courses in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience at WSU Pullman.

He anticipates needs, establishes contacts and acquires/prepares specimens, which is one of the most grueling aspects of conducting anatomy lab classes. During redesign of the teaching lab, he examined plans, work flow and layout and contributed to the successful functionality of the redesign.

Nelson assists others in areas that are not his responsibility with their lab specimens, such as other departments, student clubs and faculty in the regional vet med programs at Utah State and Montana State universities: “In all his activities he is friendly, helpful, innovative and focused on getting the job done with the highest professional standards,” said one nominator.

Don Hulst, director of facility information and resource management within Facilities Services at WSU Pullman.

He is responsible for managing campus space, a sometimes emotional issue that he handles with a calm demeanor and patient people skills. He thinks through situations, comes up with various solutions and implements the best. He has realigned resources in order to efficiently streamline processes and economize without sacrificing results. He has worked with the budget and finance and administration offices on facility readiness, campus planning and other projects.

In addition to his WSU service, Hulst is active in Lion’s Club community improvement efforts.