By George Mauzy
Serving as a university administrator, says Wendy Merb-Brown, is a bit like being in a choral group: You have to listen to your neighbor to ensure your voice doesn't stand out too much; share the melody by letting others lead sometimes and picking the right times to lead yourself; and bring joy to others and celebrate that joy yourself.
Her tune resonated with her two fellow recipients of 2008 Outstanding Administrator Awards -- Christy Carsey Lee and Jacqueline Legg -- and the Baker University Center Ballroom crowd of about 175 people who gathered to honor the three Tuesday afternoon. The winners of the Administrative Senate recognition said they felt honored to be singled out by their peers and were quick to acknowledge others who made their awards possible.
Carsey Lee, director of planning and budget in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, was the first to receive her award. In 24 years with the university, she also has worked in Career Services, University Advancement and the Scripps College of Communication. She was praised for her problem-solving abilities, organizational skills and efficiency as a manager. She also was commended for her willingness to handle difficult budget decisions and commitment to meeting the needs of students, staff and faculty in her college.
"I feel blessed to have my name on the wall of fame in Chubb Hall alongside some truly amazing people like Margaret Sheskey, Ken Frisch and the great Jack Ellis," said Carsey Lee.
While choking back tears, she thanked her husband and daughter. "Sometimes my job seems like my life, but we all have to remember that our families are our love," she said. "These years at Ohio University will always be special to me."
Legg, business manager for Student Health Services and a 29-year employee of the university, was applauded for her longtime dedication to meeting the needs of the patients and students at Hudson Health Center. She received special recognition for helping the university's Institutional Review Board with oversight in using human subjects in research and aiding the Office of Research Compliance with proposals, revisions and compliance.
Legg said she has learned many skills during her Ohio University career, which started with creating a new laboratory in the then-four-year-old College of Osteopathic Medicine. She jokingly rattled off the acronyms of the computer systems and programs she has worked with, then turned serious as she listed important services Hudson provides for students, including some facing cancer and others with ailments they feel they can't discuss with their parents, such as sexually transmitted diseases.
"I'm proud to work at Ohio University and honored to work at Hudson Health Center and truly thank the staff for nominating me," Legg said.
Merb-Brown, director of learning community programs in University College, was the day's final recipient. Now in her 17th year at the university, she was recognized for expanding the university's learning community program to record proportions this academic year. The program, which started in fall 1999 with 40 students in two communities, hosted 1,975 first-year students in 115 communities last fall. It was a significant increase over the previous year's 57 communities and 1,026 students. Merb-Brown also has been active in Administrative Senate, Budget Planning Council and other committees and task forces.
Her voice cracking with emotion, in rapid-fire style she called the first names of people who have touched her career at Ohio University.
"Every one of them has helped me become who I am," Merb Brown said. "It is because of the work of these people that I'm here and hope to continue to be here."
Awarded to individuals who show strong commitment and distinguished service to Ohio University, the Outstanding Administrator Awards have been an annual tradition since 1975.
This year's trio was chosen from a field of 22 nominees by the nine-member Administrative Senate Outstanding Administrator Award Committee. To be nominated, an employee must have current administrator status and at least five years of service. The winners receive $1,000 each for personal use, a framed certificate and their name on a Chubb Hall plaque with those of previous winners.
Special recognition also was given Tuesday to eight administrators who recently retired from the university with 30 or more years of service and 18 other retirees. The ceremony also recognized 122 administrators who are celebrating 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service this year.