By George Mauzy
In 1969, Terry James became one of Ohio University's youngest full-time employees when he was hired as a custodian at the Lancaster campus during his junior year at Lancaster High School.
On Tuesday, he was honored as one of only two classified employees who will reach the 40-year milestone this academic year. Robert Watkins, an operating systems programmer in the Office of Information Technology on the Athens campus, is the other 40-year honoree.
When asked what has led him to continue in his job as a groundskeeper/custodian well past his retirement eligibility, James was forthcoming with his answer.
"I'm having fun and I know I would be bored if I wasn't working, especially during the winter," he said. "I also was told that I could retire with full benefits if I work four more years, so that would be nice."
The lunchtime ceremony held at Nelson Commons on the Athens campus recognized 219 Ohio University classified staff members who recently completed 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service at the university.
Both President Roderick J. McDavis and Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit thanked the classified staff for their work during their addresses.
"This is always one of my favorite events to attend each year," McDavis told the audience. "Your efforts on behalf of our university are vital to the students' ability to learn and grow. At the heart of Ohio University are our people, and you significantly contribute to it each and every day."
Benoit, who was attending her first classified service awards ceremony, said it was daunting and humbling for her -- a newcomer to campus -- to address employees who have worked at the university for so many years.
"I want to find the right words -- the best words that will fully recognize the scope and quality of your achievements. Perhaps the best way to convey this appreciation is with two simple words – 'thank you,'" Benoit said.
Tammy Jordan, chair of Classified Senate said it was nice to have McDavis and his wife, Deborah, in attendance, as well as Benoit.
"I think classified staff need to hear from the president and provost that they appreciate their work and efforts," Jordan said. "They are very down-to-earth people and if you get a chance to sit down and talk with them, you will know that they really do care about the people here at the university and want to hear what we have to say."
Classified Senate's Professional Development Committee annually organizes the Classified Service Awards Reception to publicly recognize employees for their time and commitment to the university.