ACE luncheon honors inspirational employees

by Tina Owen,

Cheers and applause filled the Cat Cavern on May 25 as members of the Willamette community gathered to honor some of their most beloved and inspirational colleagues.

President Steve Thorsett opened the ACE (Administrative and Classified Excellence) luncheon by thanking all community members for their ongoing contributions to the success of the university and its mission of serving students.

“A university’s reputation for excellence is directly related to the professionalism and goodwill of faculty and staff members,” he said. “Each of us has a role to play in supporting the aspirations of our students.”

President Thorsett presented Employee of the Year awards to six staff members who were nominated by their peers for contributing to the university’s efficiency and effectiveness, promoting teamwork, inspiring commitment, and representing Willamette’s highest ideals of service to others.

The Motto Award honors staff who exemplify the university’s motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.” This year, the award went to Mat Barreiro, director of the College of Liberal Arts’ Learning Center, and Margaret Schue, administrative assistant for the College of Law’s Clinical Law Program.

Nominees praised Barreiro for her dedication to students and junior faculty, particularly noting her “compassion” and “wise counsel.” “Countless students have benefited and will continue to benefit from the support that Mat provides,” wrote one. “She is truly one of a kind.”

Law professor Warren Binford, who presented the award to Schue, praised her professionalism and her commitment to staff, students and clients in the often-fraught environment of the law clinics. Noting that Schue has never taken a sick day or even been late for work in her three decades at Willamette, Binford said, “She keeps the world going around.”

This year’s recipients of the Alvin F. Waller Stewardship Award were Susan Chiapella, manager of fiscal affairs and accreditation at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management,  and Dave Knottingham, a maintenance refrigeration mechanic with Facilities Management.

AGSM Dean Debra Ringold, who presented the award to Chiapella, described her as “central” to the school’s success. Associate Director of Facilities Management Gary Grimm read from some of the nomination letters for Knottingham, who was commended as “an example for all” and going “above and beyond to provide great service.”

This year’s Richard "Buzz" Yocom Campus Service Award went to Gabrielle James, administrative assistant III for the biology and chemistry departments, and Eki Yandall ‘06 MED’14, associate director of admission.

In more than 10 pages of emails, nominees praised James in terms such as “relentless and creative problem-solver” and “the heart and soul” of the biology and chemistry departments. Presenting the award to Yandall, Vice President of Enrollment and University Communications Michael Beseda described him as a “true Bearcat” and a “young leader” who laid the groundwork for implementing the Department of Admission’s new CRM system.