Three go-to people named recipients of 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence
Kind. Careful. Inspired. When people who work alongside Mary “Peggy” Birdsong, Sherry Hieken and Shanta Kyles are asked to describe them, such words keep coming up.
Next week, the University of Missouri–St. Louis will formally honor the three staff members for their outstanding efforts on behalf of the university. Birdsong, Hieken and Kyles are each recipients of the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence, which will be presented during the State of the University Address event on Sept. 14.
Birdsong, who serves the campus community as a custodian, goes “far beyond just doing the tasks to get a paycheck, and we appreciate it so, so much,” said fellow UMSL employee Laura Holt, who works in the Millennium Student Center’s Counseling Services office.
“Peggy takes literally flawless care of us,” added Holt. “And she knows all our names and what we’ve got going on … Our work requires odd hours and strict confidentiality, and she shows constant consideration for that and carefully works around these needs without compromising her excellence.”
Hieken, a business and fiscal operations specialist in Finance and Administration, is praised as a patient, knowledgeable co-worker. Kiana Wilhite worked closely with her during the recent budget realignment process and was impressed by Hieken’s care for the institution.
“No matter how many times I contacted her with questions, she was patient and provided in-depth information to make certain my information was accurate,” Wilhite said. “I know she has helped enhance the budgeting knowledge of others on campus, which helps the university as a whole.”
Kyles is an academic adviser in the School of Social Work. With responsibilities ranging from fielding new student inquiries to assisting current students with questions and concerns, she is known for her competence, efficiency, patience and attention to detail. And like her fellow awardees, Kyles is seen as a go-to person by those around her.
“When students encounter bumps in the road as they pursue their degrees, Shanta is often the one they turn to,” said co-worker Patti Rosenthal. “Sometimes they just need an encouraging word, and Shanta is there to provide it. At other times students have very specific needs and Shanta helps them navigate the university system to find resources for food, clothing, shelter, counseling and academic assistance.”
Chancellor Tom George, who will present the awards and $1,000 honorariums next week, said the awardees exemplify many of the best things about UMSL.
“It’s a privilege to honor these three individuals,” George said. “Peggy Birdsong, Sherry Hieken and Shanta Kyles embody our mission and values on a daily basis, and I’m proud to work alongside them and so many fellow UMSL employees who are making a difference for our students and the entire community.”
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