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Outstanding ETSU staff members reap rewards

Submitted by Jennifer Hill • Jul 19, 2018 at 4:41 PM


Seven individuals were honored by the East Tennessee State University Staff Senate in the presentation of the 2018 Distinguished Staff Awards earlier this summer.

Outstanding staff are nominated by their peers for these awards, which include a $2,000 check provided by the ETSU Foundation and an engraved recognition memento from the Staff Senate. Awards are presented during the annual staff picnic to staff members whose performance of assigned tasks, positive attitude in working with others, commitment to the university community, and exercise of extraordinary courage deserve recognition and inspire other employees.

The 2018 winners were:

* Rebecca Lewis, director of Internal Audit, was praised for leading her department even during a time of personal tragedy. “She is able to solve any problems seemingly without any difficulties, and she always has a positive outlook on any circumstances,” her nominator wrote.

* Ronda Gross, assistant director of the Scholarship Office, began her career at ETSU in 1990 as an admissions counselor, driving thousands of miles visiting high schools and community colleges. She eventually took on more responsibility, up to and including oversight of the Admissions Office recruitment schedule, before moving in 2010 to the ETSU Scholarship Office, where her knowledge of ETSU and Tennessee Board of Regents policies helped her make a smooth transition. Gross now oversees five major scholarship programs and works with the School of Graduate Studies in awarding graduate-level scholarships. She reads every scholarship application ETSU receives, which is more than 3,000 applications with three essays each. “Ronda has the uncanny, inherent ability to make every person feel like they are speaking with a valued, supportive friend. No matter the issue, every conversation with Ronda ends with the student and family feeling relaxed, confident and excited about attending ETSU,” one individual wrote in support of her nomination. Other supporters noted the many times current and former students and their families stop by the Scholarship Office to thank Gross for her efforts on their behalf.

* Sue Knoche is a library assistant in Cataloging/Serials/Acquisitions at the Quillen College of Medicine Library, where she has been employed since 1988. Her nominator praises her “passion and dedication to improving the library” and her willingness to both help in other departments and to share her knowledge and skills with others. Knoche is known as the “Book Repair Guru” for teaching book repair techniques to library workers across the Southeast, and she is instrumental in providing patient education at Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics that serve medically underserved individuals. In addition to her cataloging and preservation work, she often staffs the library’s circulation desk, participates in student orientation and conducts tours of both the Medical Library and the Museum at Mountain Home. Knoche serves on the board of directors of the Tennessee Library Association and is the Tennessee representative to the Southeastern Library Association. She also writes a regular column for an online international newsletter for library workers and received the prestigious Library Journal Paraprofessional of the Year Award in 2003.

* Brandon Standifer, a customer support specialist in the Computing Technology Services division of Information Technology Services (ITS), began his career at ETSU 11 years ago after serving as a student worker in computer maintenance for four years. Standifer is praised for his intelligence, skills, attitude and willingness to assist when emergencies and hard-to-solve problems occur. “He always has a smile and is in a good mood, making our working environment extremely enjoyable,” his nominator wrote. “If you don’t know Brandon, once he works on your computer, you will realize you have made a friend.”

* Brian Ferrell, a painter in Facilities Management, has served the university for more than 27 years. His nominator calls Ferrell “a family man first and a working man second,” and praises his skills as a painter and drywall finisher. “Brian has a way of making every person he is around a happier person, especially in the workplace,” the nomination states. “Brian has an honest personality, an encouraging attitude ... and most importantly, an uplifting spirit toward people when they may be having a bad day.”

* Amanda Worley is a sergeant in the ETSU Department of Public Safety, where she has created such programs as Bucs Report It for reporting crimes, Ask-A-Cop for requesting information and Operation ID for identity theft guidance. She has been presented ETSU’s Unsung Hero Award and the Public Safety Life Saving Award. Worley has taught programs on a variety of topics, including alcohol/drug awareness, DUI prevention, personal safety, theft prevention, residence hall safety, sexual assault defense, active shooter and workplace violence, and she is the state director for Rape Aggression Defense Systems. She has also been active on campus as a Staff Senator, a member of the Commission for Women Standing Committee and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation and Kinesiology. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education at ETSU.

* Steve Webb, manager of the Systems Support division of ITS, began his career in the User Services section of ETSU’s former Office of Information Technology 27 years ago and was instrumental in developing the operating system images for desktop computers. He was later reassigned to the Systems and Operations section as a systems analyst, and under his care, the number of servers grew to 60 physical and 165 virtual servers. Webb played an integral role in migrating the university to the current Banner administrative system and from the Exchange email system to Microsoft Office 365. “Steve’s can-do attitude endears him to those he works with,” his nominator wrote. “He reflects great credit upon himself, Information Technology Services and East Tennessee State University.”

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