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Deirdre "Dawn" Hall, office services specialist in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling, and the Office of Public Safety were honored Oct. 27 as winners in the Human Resources Department's annual Customer Relations awards program.

Hall, who has worked in the department for 10 years, was named Customer Relations Employee of the Year, while Public Safety received the Department of the Year award.

Hall will receive a certificate and her choice of a plaque or clock, and the 80-member staff comprising the Office of Public Safety will be presented a certificate and check for $500 to use in any way they wish.

Twenty-two employees were nominated for the Employee of the Year award and seven departments and offices were nominated.

Hall's nomination received widespread support, from faculty and students within the department to faculty and colleagues in other areas of the university.

Ed Neukrug, chair of the educational leadership and counseling department, nominated Hall for the honor. "Some people are nominated because they have worked at a place for a number of years. Others are nominated because they are very good at one, two or even many activities. But, it is the few that are nominated because they exemplify the ideal in secretarial services. Ms. Hall is one of those," Neukrug wrote as part of his nomination.

In addition to recognizing Hall's competence on the job, Neukrug noted that she "is liked by everyone," no small feat, another faculty member pointed out, for a support staff member who must work in a busy office of approximately 20 full-time faculty and more than 30 adunct faculty.

Hall's work ethic and pleasant demeanor were attributes mentioned over and over in the letters supporting her nomination. Among the comments were these:

"Her value system is very strong and she has earned the complete trust and respect of everyone who knows her. In the 11 years that I have known her she has never spoken a cross word and her acts of dedication and kindness are legendary. If she tells you something, you can put it in the bank." -- William G. Cunningham, graduate program director, educational leadership.

"No matter how busy she might be, she is patient, pleasant and helpful. She always has a kind word and takes the time to make each person feel they have gotten her undivided attention." -- Emily E. Jones, executive secretary, occupational and technical studies department.

"In my 27 years in public education I have encountered many secretaries, and Dawn Hall is truly above the norm. She performs her duties with ease, and doesn't mind interruptions. She can work under the most chaotic conditions and
is able to maintain a smile. Her professional demeanor and attitude sets the tone for the office and for all those who interact with the department." -- Rosemary A. Thompson, adjunct professor, educational leadership and counseling.

"Ms. Hall is extremely approachable and always responds to requests for assistance. (. . .) Amazingly, this assistance, more often than not, results from Ms. Hall asking me if she can help out before I have a chance to ask for her assistance. Ms. Hall is an excellent example of customer service at its best!" -- Jill C. Jurgens, assistant professor, educational leadership and

"I wanted to take a moment and thank you for taking the time to help me with my registration problem. You are one of the reasons that Old Dominion University and the Educational Leadership program remain a positive experience for me. You
have been spoken of many times among the graduates in high regards, and your hard work never goes unnoticed." -- a July 12, 1999, letter to Hall from ELS graduate student William J. Van Bennekum.

Other employees nominated for the award were: Linda Baker, Connie Davis, Rachel DeMunda, Diane Gilbert, Ruth Gruszeczka, Scott Harrison, Roy Henderson, Etta Henry, Paula Jamison, Samuel Jones, Martin Jordan, Herbert Ketchum Jr., Sharon Melone, Jennifer Midgett, William Quinn, September Sanderlin, Laurel Wilcox, Cynthia Williamson, Kim Wint and Dwayne Young.

The Office of Public Safety received separate nominations for Department of the Year from James Long, director of parking, and Scott E. King, director of international student and scholar services.

Long characterized the office as both "very professional and service oriented." He noted, "Public Safety demonstrates that it would rather help visitors comply with rules rather than 'catch' them."

Acknowledging the leadership and commitment of Chief Cliff Rice, as well as the professionalism of others in the office, from officers to dispatchers, Long added, "They are a department that has as a first priority response to the needs and desires of the university community. Second, they strive to be on the cutting edge in their field, so as to be a contributor to an excellent
university. They seem to take excellence seriously, and see themselves as an integral part of the university and the education it provides."

King nominated the Office of Public Safety in recognition of the support it has provided Old Dominion's growing international student population over the years. "Providing assistance to new international students when they first arrive here is one step we take to demonstrate to these students our desire to have them in the community," he said. "University police have offered to be the point of contact for new students in need, and the staff of that office willingly contacts a member of my office staff from the list we provide, provides a place for the student to sit and wait if needed, relays telephone calls and generally does everything that they can to make the student comfortable. The first impression that is given of the university is thus one that is caring and responsive -- a great way for a student from overseas to start his or her study here."

The Office of Public Safety has also been responsive to safety problems off campus, King added.

"When a series of armed robberies occurred in the Bolling Square Apartments area, it was the university police who took the initiative to meet with apartment owners, set up a more substantial university police presence in the area and help students both learn what they needed to do to protect themselves and at the same time, put the incidents into proper perspective," King said.

King's nomination was supported by letters from current and former international students, including Coimbatore J. Srinivas, who now works for a consulting firm in Research Triangle Park, N.C.:

"My days (and nights) as a student at ODU were long. I spent the night on quite a few occasions working on a project in the computer science department labs. Almost on every such occasion I had a conversation with an officer doing her/his
rounds through the buildings. The campus police force has been polite and professional, and I thank them for the rides back home on two occasions as I walked back from school in the early hours of the day."

Other offices and departments nominated for the Department of the Year award were: Athletic Support Operations, Moving and Special Events, Parking Services, Physical Plant/Housekeeping, Student Activities and Leadership, and University Publications.

This article was posted on: October 28, 1999

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.