PEMBROKE – Each year, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke recognizes its professors with awards and plaques.
Recently, it was the staff and non-teaching faculty’s turn to share in the spotlight.
“Welcome to the first-ever Staff Awards and Recognition Ceremony,” Dr. Robert Canida said, addressing more than 200 university employees gathered inside the Givens Performing Arts Center.
Canida said the idea for an awards ceremony arose from conversations during meetings of Staff Council which Canida serves as chair.
“It is very important that our staff and non-teaching faculty feel that they are appreciated,” said Canida, director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.
“So, what a better way, especially during the chancellor’s installation week, that we spend the time to celebrate and honor those employees who make a big difference in the lives of our faculty, staff, students and community.”
Employees were given an opportunity to nominate their peers in six categories – Accountability, Communication, Collaboration, Innovation, Integrity and Service. The categories reflect the university’s core values which Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings penned when he was hired last summer.
Cummings also spoke to the staff and remained on stage to congratulate each winner. He said the purpose of the ceremony was to recognize the men and women who “work behind the scenes” and “under the radar” to keep the university running and to serve the students.
“Regardless of your job title at this university, you have an important role in changing lives through education,” Cummings said. “You may never set a foot in a classroom, but in a very important way, you contribute to each student’s experience here and by doing that you contribute to their success in life. What a wonderful role to play in life!
“We are especially pleased that the Staff Council is presenting awards highlighting each of the six core values that we have chosen to emphasize,” Cummings said.
“Let me be clear, I know these values have always been at the heart of our UNC Pembroke staff, as well as how our faculty and students conduct themselves. Our goal in highlighting these six values is simply to ensure that they are always at the top of our minds.”
Awards were given to two employees (staff and non-teaching faculty) per category. All winners were presented a plaque.
Collaboration: Sharon Blue, new student orientation coordinator, Advising Center; and Todd Allen, coordinator for academic transitions, Advising Center.
Integrity: Gwen Locklear, executive assistant, Library; and Cynthia Redfearn, associate director Residence Life, Housing and Residence Life
Accountability: Christy Dearden, executive assistant, School of Business; and
LaRhonda Darnell, Data Processor, Undergraduate Admissions Office
Communication: Christie Poteet, director of the Office for Community and Civic Engagement; and Annette Straub, executive assistant for the Office of Enrollment Management
Service: Willie Scott, superintendent of Grounds, Housekeeping and Setups, Facilities Operations; and Dalton Hoffer, assistant director for Student Engagement for the Office of Community and Civic Engagement
Innovation: Sustainability and Energy Office staff Justin Duncan, Jay Blauser and Terry Divine; and Ian Stroud, Student Success Coordinator for Academic Support Center
Canida saved the most prestigious award for the end. The top award was named for the new mission Cummings crafted for UNC Pembroke – Changing Lives Through Education.
Christie Poteet’s eyes filled with tears when Canida announced that she was this year’s recipient.
“Christie does embody the university’s six core values,” Canida said. “She goes above and beyond what any employee is expected to do. She is involved heavily in our community … if you take each of those values and break them down, you will see Christie Poteet’s name in each of them.”
Poteet has worked for the Office for Community and Civic Engagement since 2008. She was served as director for two years.
Poteet fought back tears, again, as she expressed her passion for job.
“This is my whole life,” she said. “This is what I love to do. I work with students to try to get them more involved and engaged in the community. I talk to them about the importance of community, the importance of giving back and the importance of serving others and finding a way to use their passion to make a difference in this world.”
“So, if people see that in me, it goes a long way. This is not a job that I take lightly. I dedicate my heart and soul to our office, our campus and our community.”
Poteet, a native of Cleveland, Tenn., earned completed her undergraduate degree from Berea College in Kentucky. She also holds a master’s degree in Communications Studies from UNC Greensboro.
At UNC Pembroke, Poteet oversees a staff of 14, made up mostly of students.
“I love this place,” she said. “I love our students. I love our faculty, staff and our community and to receive this award is the embodiment of all that.”
Mark Locklear is a Public Communications Specialist with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.