The University thanked 306 employees last month for their combined 4,710 years of service to its mission through two recognition initiatives.
The 27th Annual Service Awards presentation and reception honored 207 faculty and staff members who had reached service milestones of five, 10, 20, 30 or 40 years during Fiscal Year 2013.
President David E. Daniel led the presentation in the Alexander Clark Center and presented honorees with their awards.
“There simply is no substitute for experience, and no substitute for passing that experience on from generation to generation of new employees,” said Dr. Daniel as he addressed the audience. “It is most appropriate that we respect and acknowledge the service that our valued employees have provided.”
In order to enhance acknowledgement of service, a new Quarter Century Club was established this year to salute employees for achieving 25 or more years of service with UT Dallas. During an inaugural luncheon, 99 employees were inducted into the club and presented with special wooden plaques.
“It is so incredibly valuable to have people around who have institutional experience,” Dr. Daniel said at the luncheon. “All of you, in your own way, have an influence that is extremely positive and extremely valuable, and I just hope you will share that with others.”
Teresa Johnston, director of business services for Environmental Health and Safety and a new Quarter Century Club member, remarked on her experiences at UT Dallas over the past 25 years.
“It’s a family atmosphere here,” said Johnston. “Everyone works together for a common goal.”
Johnston said she has also enjoyed the opportunities she has had to get to know students. During one of her jobs at the Bursar’s Office, she helped a student set up a plan to pay off her school fees.
“It took her 10 years, but she did it. When she finished, she came back and gave me a statue of an angel and told me, ‘I wouldn’t have finished school if you hadn’t worked with me.’ That was special to me.”
After the Annual Service Award presentation, Debbie Jester, administrative assistant for the Office of Communications, commented on the how much technology and the pace of the workplace have changed since she started with the University 20 years ago.
“When I first came here, no one had email. Only a few of us even had computers,” Jester said. “We had to talk our bosses into getting email so we could use electronic calendars for scheduling.”
Dr. Austin J. Cunningham, dean of graduate studies and professor of physics, has been a member of the UT Dallas faculty since fall 1972, and is one of three honorees celebrating 40 years with the University this year. After earning his PhD from Belfast University in 1969, he made his first visit to UT Dallas’ one-building campus in 1970.
“I came here to visit for a year, accepted an offer, and 40 years later it’s a decision I am not regretting,” said Dr. Cunningham. “It was a unique opportunity to be a part of something that was being developed.”
During his time with the University, Dr. Cunningham has served in numerous leadership roles and has been actively involved in developing both undergraduate and graduate programs in response to student growth.
“We are here to serve the students,” he said. “It’s fun, and it continues to be fun.”
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