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Ricardo "Ricky" Mendoza, an employee in the care and maintenance division of Facilities Management, Thursday received the Office of Administration and Finance's Gazelle Award.

Originally hired in 1997 as a temporary employee, Mendoza did volunteer work on campus after that stint ended and was hired later that year as an hourly employee. He gained classified status in 1999.

A native of the Philippines, Mendoza is truly a rare and valued employee, according to Pat King, grounds superintendent and landscape designer, who nominated him for the $1,000 award.

"He always volunteers to pick up the slack and works other employees' shifts in order to get the job done," she said.

The Office of Administration and Finance also presented a second award to a special individual from the university community at-large in recognition of her dedication and extraordinary service to Old Dominion. This first-time honor went to Etta Henry, director of catering.

Mendoza's primary duties involve emptying trash cans, picking up litter across the campus, keeping parking lots cleaned and sweeping the entrances to buildings. He is also called on occasionally to help out with landscaping work, including mulching and cutting grass. At the awards breakfast yesterday, Robert L. Fenning, acting vice president for administration and finance, told the story of how Mendoza had his son, a student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, help cut the grass on campus last summer so that he would understand how hard he had to work in order to put him through school.

In her nomination letter, King mentioned the time she saw some children waiting for Mendoza one day outside the Physical Plant. She later learned that he had promised to fix their bicycles after he got off work. King said she admires Mendoza for his work ethic, his perfectionism and his overall outstanding service to the campus community.

"His job is dirty, smelly, extremely hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter," she said. "He will do whatever it takes at any time, day or night, in all kinds of weather conditions to get the job done.

"When he leaves work every day, he is often seen riding his bicycle around campus to see what he needs to do for the next day. On many jobs, he brings in his own tools in order to get the job done."

In addition to the monetary award, Mendoza received a framed certificate which contains the following quotation from James M. Hunt, president and CEO of Hunt Super Service Inc.: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you'd better be running. That, in my opinion, sums up the current business environment."

Established in 1996, the Gazelle Award recognizes an employee who demonstrates consistent exceptional performance of duties and overcomes obstacles to complete the job, often assuming more responsibilities in order to further the mission of the unit.

Seventeen other employees were nominated: Jenett Anderson, Nancy Busby, Jack Byrum, Carlton Gatling, Jack Hamilton, Barry Jennings, Lorenza Percy, Connie Pitt, Alvin Taylor and Geraline Upshur of Facilities Management; Julie Hunt of Human Resources; Marilynn Jackson, Christina Jambard, Carrie Penn and Nadine Scouten of Auxiliary Services; and Ben Kjar and Connie Merriman of Computing and Communication Services.

Etta Henry, winner of the "special individual" award, received a gift and a certificate making her an honorary member of the Office of Administration and Finance.

Fenning thanked Henry for her exceptional, first-class service, and described her as the personification of dedication, hard work, talent and positive attitude.

"She works long hours, long weekends, and still comes back to work each day with a smile, positive energy and outstanding results," Fenning said. "She is well-liked by customers, students, staff, administrators, faculty and presidents alike."

This article was posted on: August 16, 2001

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.