Recognizing the excellent work performed by Eastern Kentucky University faculty and staff members is the purpose of the inaugural President’s Excellence Awards, presented to six EKU employees Wednesday, April 27. Each winner received a $2,500 cash award during a dinner held at the EKU Center for the Arts. Finalists received a $500 cash award. EKU milestone employees in their 25th, 30th and 35th year also were recognized at the dinner.
“As we began crafting EKU’s new Strategic Plan, appropriately titled ‘Experience Excellence,’ we thought this was the perfect time to start a new tradition of recognizing excellence within our campus community,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “The President’s Excellence Awards are designed to honor those who go above and beyond their daily work responsibilities and make EKU an excellent place to work and to study.”
Dr. Theresa Botts received the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award, which celebrates an employee who demonstrates exceptional work in diversity and inclusion within the university and/or the community. Botts is associate professor and director of admission for the PsyD Clinical Psychology program in the EKU Psychology Department.
“Dr. Botts is one of the most humble, positive and uplifting individuals I have ever known,” said the nomination statement. “I believe her commitment to diversity issues is truly unparalleled. Dr. Botts inspires me, she inspires our students, she makes a difference in people’s lives and she is absolutely deserving of this award.
Botts said she considers the award a great honor.
“The fact that such an award exists attests to EKU’s commitment to providing an infrastructure that appreciates and celebrates diversity,” she said. “There are so many people on our campus who share in my commitment to promoting equity and inclusiveness. Indeed, I have been blessed to have amazing colleagues and students who share in my vision of a more just world that celebrates and appreciates diversity and promotes a sense of inclusiveness. Hence, I share this award with all of them and would like to applaud their unwavering efforts to promote positive change.”
Ms. Tiffany Hamblin received the Excellence in Engagement Award, which recognizes an employee who serves internal and/or external partners in an exemplary manner. Hamblin serves as the associate director in the Office of Sponsored Programs.
“Tiffany exhibits excellence in engagement by scouring local, state and national funding calls to identify funding opportunities well-matched to EKU stakeholders,” said the nomination statement. “She also exhibits excellence in engagement through her work to interpret and translate funding guidelines, budget regulations and allowable expenses to those of us less well-versed in regulatory language. The work she does is mission-critical to EKU – enabling meaningful learning experiences for students in and beyond the classroom.”
Hamblin said she is grateful for the opportunity to serve the EKU community.
“My most rewarding work days come with expressions of gratitude from faculty or staff at the end of a grant proposal development process, the excitement that accompanies a new grant award, or stories about the impact an experience made possible through a grant program has had on a student,” Hamblin said. “Being selected for the President’s Excellence in Engagement Award is an honor that I will forever treasure. It is a reminder that my investment in my work is appreciated. There are many people at EKU who deserve such recognition, and I look forward to seeing others recognized in the years ahead.”
Ms. Mary Miller was recognized for the Excellence in Hospitality Award, given to the employee who demonstrates outstanding hospitality to fellow employees, students, external partners and guests. Miller serves as the University Card ID Administrator.
“Mary Miller is someone that I am proud to work alongside because she is focused on what matters at EKU,” said the nomination statement. “Making this the very best experience for every student who walks through her door and doing anything she can to engage and serve our community is something Mary always does every single day without fail.”
Miller said her goal is to provide a friendly environment for all.
“I love EKU and to show my love I am striving every day to help students, faculty and staff have an excellent experience while they are here,” she said. “In my spare time, I love helping other departments in their endeavors and events and I love serving on staff council. I still feel incredibly lucky to be on staff in such a wonderful working environment with a supervisor who appreciates me, supports me and sees my potential.”
Mr. Chad Adkins received the Excellence in Innovation award, given to the employee who demonstrates innovation in their role at the university. Adkins serves as the director of Institutional Research & Data Analytics.
“Chad Adkins is deserving of celebration for his continual pursuit of innovation, primarily through his work in providing contextualized university information and analyses in the form of data dashboards,” read the nomination statement. “Chad consistently researches current technologies for new ideas and functionality and is building a data analytics team focused on providing self-serve, easily consumable data that can be seamlessly transformed into evidence for change. With his inventive mind, dedication to progress and willingness to exceed expectations, Chad exemplifies excellence in innovation.”
Ms. Emily Jo Davis received the Excellence in Philanthropy award, recognizing an employee who demonstrates exceptional generosity and responsibility through volunteerism at EKU or through an external organization. Davis is the director of Student Conduct and assistant Dean of Students.
“Emily Jo has been heavily involved with CASA in Madison County,” read the nomination statement. “When Emily Jo first began volunteering, the organization had lost its director, was facing financial constraints, had lost national affiliation and had to stop assigning advocates in the court system. Researcher Brené Brown expounds that the most precious gift that people have to offer is their time and that ‘time is, hands down, our most coveted, most nonrenewable resource.’ Emily Jo is no stranger to giving this gift.”
Ms. Carrie Ernst received the Excellence in Leadership Award, presented to the employee who has made a significant impact on advancing the mission of the university. Ernst is executive director of operations and innovations.
“Evidence of her influential leadership can be demonstrated in one simple, yet sophisticated and multifaceted contribution: Slate,” read the nomination statement. “Carrie has been, and remains, the linchpin to the successful implementation and utilization of Slate on this campus. Her knowledge and technical skills coupled with her dedication and tenacity led the effort in building and expanding Slate on campus. Through her guidance, EKU has become a leader in the development of Slate tools that transform the student experience from application to graduation. Her adept leadership contributes to the success of EKU and is critical in moving the university forward.”
The EKU campus community was invited to nominate their colleagues for the Excellence Awards. Each award recognized three finalists, with the winners announced during the dinner.