Every March, hundreds of employees and guests gather at the Service Recognition Luncheon, organized and hosted by the Office of Human Resources, to celebrate achieving service milestones and to learn who was selected as recipients of the President’s Achievement Award and the Donald Griffin ’23 Management Award.
However, this year, Jadwin Gymnasium sat empty on March 25, the scheduled date of the luncheon, while most of campus was directed to work remotely due to COVID-19.
“Clearly this year is like no other, and we were very disappointed that we had to cancel this year’s event,” said Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, vice president for human resources. “Even though we could not celebrate in person together, it does not diminish the appreciation that I have for each and every honoree.”
Service recognition of long-serving staff members
The 407 employees being honored through the service recognition program for employment milestones attained in 2019 have devoted more than 8,110 years of service to the University.
“This remarkable dedication is inspiring, and I am grateful to these staff members for their contributions to our University that span so many years,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber.
All employees received by mail their certificates of recognition embossed with a special copper-engraved rendering of Nassau Hall by the late Michael Graves along with a commemorative pin for their specific years of service. Those with 55, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30 and 25 years of service also selected gifts from the special Princeton Service Recognition Program collection at Hamilton Jewelers.
By the numbers
1 employee with 55 years of service
2 employees with 50 years of service
8 employees with 45 years of service
16 employees with 40 years of service
28 employees with 35 years of service
31 employees with 30 years of service
36 employees with 25 years of service
67 employees with 20 years of service
125 employees with 15 years of service
93 employees with 10 years of service
President’s Achievement Awards (PAA)
Six Princeton staff members were honored as recipients of the President’s Achievement Award for their commitment to excellence and exceptional performance: David “Dave” Brown, assistant director of the Pace Center for Civic Engagement; Kim Jackson, director of TigerCard Services and Transportation and Parking Services; Josue Lajeunesse, lead custodian at Whitman College, Facilities; Robert “Bob” Walker, residential food service worker, Campus Dining; William “Bill” Wichser, director of advanced systems and storage for the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering; and Tracey Woodel, business analyst, Finance and Administrative Services, Facilities.
The award was established in 1997 to recognize members of the support and administrative staffs with five or more years of service whose dedication, excellent work and special efforts have contributed significantly to the success of their departments and the University. The recipients received a framed certificate and a $2,500 award, and their names are inscribed on a plaque displayed in the Office of Human Resources.
In a recent Zoom call with the recipients, President Eisgruber shared his sentiments: “You are an extraordinary group of employees whose contributions to Princeton have improved the University. You have earned the respect of people throughout our campus, and you can be very proud of this award. We get superb nominees, and selecting among them is one of the most competitive processes that we run at Princeton University. This University has the strength that it does because of people like you who do so many valuable things in so many different ways. Thank you and congratulations.”
The following comments are excerpted from nomination materials and other information about the 2019 PAA award recipients.
David “Dave” Brown
As assistant director of the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, Dave Brown has inspired countless students to participate in service activities. Dave joined the University 15 years ago, first in the Office of Religious Life, where he helped expand the Community Action (CA) program for first-year students. “If there was no Dave, there would probably be no CA,” said Charlotte Collins, associate director of the Pace Center.
Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Dave trained as a social worker before becoming involved with nonprofits. Since joining the Pace Center in 2007, Dave’s leadership of the Student Volunteers Council has helped Princeton students develop impactful service projects with community partners ranging from the Trenton Public Schools to El Centro and Trenton Circus Squad. SVC co-chair Kelton Chastulik, Class of 2021, said, “On many occasions, I have come to Dave with questions about my SVC projects … and he leaves me feeling more confident every time.”
Daniella Gitlin, Class of 2006, summed up his character this way, “… what’s important in life is laid bare: love each other, help each other, alleviate suffering, and be the change you want to see.” Matthew Weiner, associate dean of the Office of Religious Life, said, “Dave does all the work (like the rest of us) and then I find him ‘just helping out.’”
Princeton is in the midst of expanding the campus, increasing the student body, and meeting ambitious sustainability goals. Meanwhile, Kim Jackson, director of TigerCard Services and Transportation and Parking Services, is responsible for tackling what these plans mean on a micro level, pertaining to parking and getting around campus.
Chad Klaus and Debby Foster, vice president and assistant vice president for University Services, summed up Kim’s expertise this way, “Kim oversees one of the most challenging and politically sensitive functions in a University system, which is parking. Parking services can wear down anyone, but Kim has the stamina to continually stay motivated, excited about the work, and committed to serving our campus community. … This resilience shines through her leadership.”
Kim’s leadership skills have contributed to the success of initiatives, such as “Revise Your Ride,” designed to reduce single-occupancy vehicles on campus, and to activities beyond her day-to-day role. Charlie Tennyson, deputy director of TTPS wrote: “[Kim] was … a founding organizer of the diversity and inclusion efforts at University Services. … She has served on the CPUC. She’s a fellow at Whitman. She spends many late nights representing the University at town council, county, and other public agency meetings. When she walks across campus, there’s hardly a person she doesn’t know and interact with on a personal level.”
As the lead custodian at Whitman College, Josue Lajeunesse works untiringly to help students have a comfortable home away from home. Alexis Andres, dean of Whitman, wrote that he “… goes out of his way to make sure Whitman runs smoothly: whether it’s disposing of cardboard boxes after big shipments, cleaning the carpets, [or] helping a student who needs to put their belongings into storage. … He is a huge part of why many of our students are proud to call Whitman home.”
Born in the village of La Source, Haiti, Josue has worked at Princeton since 1995. He has always helped others. Residents of his hometown once had to travel to a nearby mountain for clean water. Josue helped fund water treatment initiatives to bring clean water to every home in his village. He is featured in the 2009 documentary “The Philosopher Kings,” which tells the stories of a few janitors at universities under the premise “in search of wisdom in unlikely places.” In 2010, Josue was part of Princeton’s disaster relief team to assist Haiti after a major earthquake.
Kyu Whang, vice president for Facilities, said, “You cannot help but have enormous respect and adoration for a selfless human being like Josue.” Kristin Frasier, college program administrator at Whitman, wrote, “Josue does his best every day to make sure that our students are a priority.”
Robert “Bob” Walker
Bob Walker joined Campus Dining in 1999 as a residential food service worker and, with his positive attitude, authenticity and humility has moved up the ladder with increasing responsibilities. Each academic year he makes it a point to get to know the name of all students, where they come from, what type of food they like, any dietary restrictions they have, even what their favorite sports are.
His recommenders said that Bob is patient and resilient and described his extraordinary work ethic in this way, “The entire Forbes team respects and sees Bob as a role model. … Bob treats everybody with respect and genuine care. He can be seen helping in the dish room, at the pizza station, in the pantry, and wherever he is needed.”
Bob’s steadfastness is most apparent at weekend brunches at Forbes — where the staff serves over 900 students in a four-hour period. Bob’s work ethic comes into play: he starts prep on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on his schedule; if there’s a line at the grill station going out the door during brunch, it is likely that those people are waiting for Bob’s famous burritos. And during Commencement and Reunions, when Campus Dining serves thousands of meals, Bob’s calm demeanor puts his colleagues at ease by assuring them that everything is going to be fine.
William “Bill” Wichser
Bill Wichser is the director of advanced systems and storage for the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering, more commonly known as PICSciE. For those who hear a title like Bill’s and wonder, “OK, but what does that mean,” his colleagues can shed some light.
Jay Dominick, vice president of information technology and chief information officer, said: “At a time when computation has become an indispensable tool in research, it is still true that the quality of the people matters more than the quality of the machines. And nobody has more of a positive impact than Bill.”
Bill’s work touches every academic department and supports researchers from novice undergraduate students to Nobel laureate faculty members. In 2019, he helped organize the first Princeton Research Data Management Workshop, which enables graduate students and researchers to gain new skills. PICSciE Director Jeroen Tromp said Bill’s “dedication to the Princeton centralized research computing effort is simply astonishing.”
Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti called Bill “the very embodiment of knowledge, professionalism and service.” Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Steven Cowley praised Bill and this team for “delivering the design and installation of the computer Traverse for PPPL, 184 days ahead of schedule and without any teething problems.”
Curt Hillegas, associate chief information officer in the Office of Information Technology, Research Computing, and PICSciE, said, “Bill possesses that rare brand of leadership that enables the talents of others to shine, rather than seek the limelight personally.”
Tracey Woodel is a business analyst in the Facilities Finance and Administrative Services department, which processes utility and tax bills for the University. Tracey tracks and analyzes that data, which is sought by people all across campus. Tracey knows about buildings and utility usage “like the back of her hand!” commented a colleague.
In her 18 years at Princeton, Tracey has reconciled over 50,000 utility bills, processing over 500 payments per month, one envelope at a time. One of Tracey’s most significant accomplishments is her leading role to implement a Utility Database, a strategic initiative that automates utility bills and allow for detailed analytical reporting. The new database streamlines all kinds of operations, while saving the University hundreds of thousands of dollars — and no more paper! Tracey’s supervisor, Shilpa Gupta, manager of the Facilities Business Office, said, “Tracey is my go-to person for questions on real estate, journal entries, and utilities … she is always open to new methodologies and receptive to new technology.”
Tracey handles over 450 tax payments each quarter for the property taxes the University pays to the town of Princeton and surrounding municipalities. Kristin Appelget, director of community and regional affairs, said, “[Tracey’s] dedication and care in the job makes it easier for those of us who … rely upon her reporting.”
Tracey is a trusted partner to colleagues across campus who rely on her skills to help them with issues ranging from water use savings to sustainability. Her recommenders wrote, “[Tracey’s] commitment to teamwork, integrity, and innovation is a model for all of us.”
Griffin Management Award
Two staff members have been honored as recipients of the Donald Griffin ’23 Management Award: Brielle Bentley, interior design project manager, Office of Capital Projects, and Edwin Clayton, senior project manager, Princeton Neuroscience Institute.
The award was established to honor Griffin — a 1923 alumnus who served as the longtime secretary and general secretary of Princeton’s Alumni Council — through a gift from his son James, a 1955 alumnus; his granddaughter, Barbara Griffin Cole, a 1982 alumna; and her husband, Chris Cole, a 1981 alumnus. The award is given by the Office of Human Resources to recognize administrators who would like to develop their leadership and management skills. The winners receive a grant of up to $2,500 to participate in professional activities scheduled within the next year to provide new insights and perspectives, renew motivation and/or enhance skills applicable to their current responsibilities.
About the award recipients:
Brielle Bentley is an interior design project manager in the Office of Capital Projects in Facilities. In her nomination, Marilyn Simeone, program manager, Campus Interiors in Facilities, noted that Brielle plays a key role for the University’s senior leadership’s interior projects and has successfully led the interior design process on several large capital projects within multidisciplinary teams. She has excelled in her current position for five years and has demonstrated continuous growth in her skills and an ongoing desire and ability to broaden her responsibilities.”
Marilyn explained that Brielle’s self-motivation and demonstration of leadership skills have earned her higher profile projects and special assignments. She maintains good working relationships with her clients and other team members, resulting in well-executed projects that meet the goals of her clients and those of the University. Her capacity to exercise independent judgment is complemented by a strong intuition as to when things need to be escalated or when she requires assistance in order to be successful. Brielle has a commitment to and a passion for constant learning and the expansion of her knowledge base.
By receiving the Griffin Award, Brielle will be able to attend a Rutgers University’s four-day program on “Workplace Strategy,” which involves studying how people work and creating a workspace that supports their activities based on data and observations into things such as departmental culture, staff personality, and the type of environment best suited for the work to be performed.
Dr. Edwin Clayton has been a senior project manager at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute since 2015.
In his nomination, Timothy Tayler, Ph.D., assistant director, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, described the widespread and profound impact that Edwin has had on their summer internship program for students from historically underrepresented groups in the sciences. The goal of this program is to help these students gain entrance into a neuroscience graduate program. Recognizing the need for more funding, Edwin wrote two grants to the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to secure additional financial resources for the program. PNI was awarded funding from both agencies. Edwin also worked diligently to improve the profile of the program in an effort to attract more and better applicants. Timothy notes that, under Edwin’s guidance, from 2016 to 2017, the number of submissions increased from 137 to 276. In 2019, PNI received nearly 1,000 applications to its summer program.
In 2018, Edwin was named chair of the Curriculum Committee and asked to join the Graduate Recruitment Committee, where he works to evaluate a selection of applicants with scientific interests similar to his own background and serves as a second reviewer for all applicants from historically underrepresented groups. PNI’s attention to this issue has resulted in a much higher enrollment for underrepresented minorities than the national average for graduate programs.
Through the Griffin Award, Edwin plans to attend the 2021 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). This conference attracts underrepresented minority undergraduate students and provides them a venue to present their research, engage in professional development activities, and meet with representatives of graduate programs in their scientific field.
The Staff Recognition Program, which includes the Service Recognition Luncheon, the President’s Achievement Award, and the Griffin Award, is administered by the Office of Human Resources.