They keep the Wi-Fi working. They implement programs. They keep classrooms in order. They update everything from student records to newsletters to campus signage to the grass on the soccer field. And they support faculty and student success across campus.

On one of the quiet days after Commencement, their essential work was honored.

Staff members and administrators gathered at the Alumni House for the first-ever Staff Excellence Awards Ceremony, with awards presented by Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

“Many of you know that I believe that staff are the backbone of the University,” he said. “You provide critical structural support. …You do all the day-to-day things in the life of the University that make it work. And what I particularly like about our staff is our commitment to excellence. …It’s your commitment and your pride in the work that you do that I so admire. You all take pride in the work you do here, in large part, because you believe in the mission.”

The Gladys Strawn Bullard Award was awarded to UNCG Police Chief Paul Lester. The three Staff Excellence Awards were presented to Lloyd International Honors College Budget and Operations Manager Linda Dunston-Stacey, Special Events Coordinator Julie Landen, and College of Arts and Sciences Assistant to the Dean Lori Wright.

Staff Senate Co-Chair Stephen Hale also announced the creation of a new award, the Ezekiel Robinson Staff Emeritus Award, given posthumously this year to Ezekiel Robinson, who worked on campus in a prominent staff role for 52 years under three different presidents. Robinson joined the campus in 1892 and throughout his time on campus, saw student enrollment grow from 200 to 2,000. He retired in 1944 as the last member of the original staff.

“Staff are often the unsung heroes, but the campus administration wants you to know that they are grateful and aware of everything you do,” said Hale.

Thirty Staff Stars were also recognized at the ceremony, with the addition of one more surprise honoree. Staff Senate presented the chancellor with a Staff Star gift, because of his participation in honoring the Staff Stars throughout the year.

All in all, spirits were high, some owing to the fact that UNCG had just won the UNC Staff Assembly Golf Tournament, which raises money for UNC System professional development for staff.

View the video below, created by Professor of Media Studies Michael Frierson and his students, about the honorees and their commitment to their work at UNCG.

Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Videography by the Department of Media Studies