Four UNC Charlotte staff members were designated 2019 Employees of the Year, and 325 employees were recognized for achieving milestone anniversaries for their years of service with the state of North Carolina, during a dessert reception Wednesday, March 27, in the Popp Martin Student Union. A recipient was recognized in each of these categories: devotion to duty, innovation, human relations and community and public service.
Claire Kirby’s pride in UNC Charlotte is not just limited to her extensive professional and stylish wardrobe in Niner green. She was recognized for her devotion to duty because of her dedication to significant employee development and her commitment to growing University enrollment. As director of admissions, Kirby led her team in enrolling the largest and most academically qualified freshman class for fall 2018, while also paying close attention to diversity.
“This is known as achieving the ‘great trifecta’ in the professional admissions associations,” wrote Tina McEntire, associate provost for enrollment management, in her nomination letter for Kirby. “It is extremely rare for a school to enroll a larger class while increasing in diversity and quality.”
Kirby’s encouragement of “The Gold Standard,” her office’s shared values, does not go unnoticed by her staff or others.
“She has inspired her team to become just as devoted to our students as she has always been,” wrote McEntire. “If I could nominate an entire office for devotion to duty it would be Undergraduate Admissions because they exceed the expectations of students and families continually.”
A member of the Meal Plans and 49er Card team, Melissa Battle, was honored in the category of innovation. Battle spearheaded a project to allow all incoming students to submit their photos for their 49er ID cards online, reducing by more than 90 percent the number of on-campus photo sessions for freshman students. This streamlined the production and distribution process and allowed for the delivery of ID cards to incoming freshman at their SOAR sessions.
“Her innovation has saved significant staff work time, streamlined our processes and most importantly, improved our service to all of our customers,” wrote Keith Wassum, associate vice chancellor for business services.
Battle has strengthened the quality of her team’s communications with students, faculty and staff by adopting and mastering the email system, EduConverse. Using metrics and feedback the system provides, one nominator wrote, “we are learning how to better communicate with our customers and prompt the requested actions we desire.”
Sara Watson, business services coordinator in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, was named Employee of the Year in the human relations category. Whether it is helping student groups in her department with event logistics and securing funding or mediating disagreements and bringing those involved to a common understanding, Watson has a “charismatic touch” and is able to make everyone feel as though they belong to the Niner Family.
Her nominator, Sarah Sonefeld, an academic advisor in the department, wrote, “Through her contagious laugh, her willingness to listen to others, her eagerness to help those in need and her desire to ensure the relationship of those in the department is positive, Sara makes UNC Charlotte the perfect place to work.”
Ashley Williams Clark has been called “a rising star,” “a highly respected force” and “the epitome of what partnership and collaboration is all about” by community members. From serving as a lead researcher and author on housing instability and homelessness—in partnership with the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and other community organizations—to co-leading the UNC Charlotte Opportunity Research Showcase, it was not a surprise to many that she was honored in the category of community and public service.
“Ashley has emerged as one of the University’s most visible and respected ambassadors in advancing UNC Charlotte’s public service mission in the community,” wrote Provost Joan Lorden in Clark’s nomination packet.
Outside of her work at the University, Clark serves on the board of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Foundation, mentors and serves on the boards of the Bruce Irons Camp Fund and Circle de Luz, and was appointed to a team developing the framework to measure progress on the Leading Opportunity Council recommendations.
This year’s recipients were among 32 nominated by colleagues and supervisors for the Employee of the Year award, the most ever received in any given year. A committee led by the Human Resources Department and comprising representatives from across campus selected the recipients.
Among the employees honored for milestone anniversaries, two individuals were recognized for 35 years of service. They were Nelda Tatum, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Office, and Alison Wilson, Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives.
A special midnight appreciation event was held on Monday, March 25, for the University's third-shift employees.
Click here to see employees recognized for service anniversaries.
Photo: Ashley Williams Clark, Claire Kirby, Melissa Battle and Sara Watson with Chancellor Dubois.