By Lara Becker
The unparalleled elation of the award-winners and their families was palpable in the Education Building Room 212 on April 10 at the inaugural Staff Recognition Awards.
The ceremony began at 3:30 p.m. with opening remarks from College President Kathryn Foster, President of the Staff Senate Joseph O’Brien and Chair of the Staff Senate Christopher Larthey.
Foster discussed how the event was theorized by the Staff Committee this past summer as a way to give back to the faculty, who she said are greatly deserving of praise. She welcomed all guests and analogized the College staff to baseball coordinators on the shoulders of opening day.
“The game cannot happen without the staff,” Foster said. “They are the people who built the stadium, they fix the grounds, they print the programs, they take your ticket money, they design the logos, they do the play-by-play and they generally make sure that the game happens.”
The night then segued into personal recognition of College administrators.
The winning staff members were awarded a trophy, a “TCNJ swag bag” and a free parking space of their choice.
A total of seven awards were given, ranging from Outstanding New Employee and Unsung Hero to Lifetime Achievement.
Peers, colleagues and friends of each winner presented their respective awards and shared with the audience personal anecdotes of their favorite times and memories in all of their collective work spaces.
Campus Police Sergeant Scott Leusner was honored with a Staff of the Year Award by his EMS students in training.
Kyra Herman, the student president of TCNJ EMS, presented Leusner’s award along with several other members of the club’s dedicated staff.
The students agreed that no one was more deserving of the award than Leusner, whom they said has been dedicated to law enforcement for 25 years, six of which have been at the College.
He has been persistent in his quest to better the relationship between the Campus Police and TCNJ EMS.
“He establishes a sense of mutual respect and professionalism,” Herman said. “He inspires us all to be better EMTs and better at our jobs.”
Staff of the Year Award winner and TCNJ graduate Gem Perkins (’98) began working at the College shortly after her time as a student in 1999, which later led her to work in various offices at the College over the years.
“The best part of this award is that I get to work at TCNJ,” Perkins said. “Thank you to my colleagues for all of their support, and for being there. I appreciate you all going with the flow.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award is granted to a staff member with 20 years or more of tireless experience at the College.
Joan Pageau of the financial assistance office was presented with the award by her friend and colleague, Wilbert Casaine, the director of financial assistance at the College.
Casaine described Pageau as “passionate about always putting the students first” and that her “dedication is unparalleled.”
Foster was glad to give recognition to faculty and staff at the College who deserved credit for their efforts.
“This is congratulations on behalf of a grateful and impressed college, for the model that you present to all of us on how to be in this world.”