University of Missouri–St. Louis Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and her cabinet continue to recognize the exemplary efforts of staff and faculty members from across campus by bestowing the UMSL Hero Award on up to three individuals each month.
This month’s honorees are Loyola Harvey, an executive assistant with the Faculty Senate and University Assembly; Justine Patterson, a pre-clinical academic advisor in the College of Nursing; and Mike Toohey, a systems administrator in Information Technology Services.
Loyola Harvey, executive assistant with the Faculty Senate and University Assembly
Harvey began her career as a secretary for the federal government. For eight years she held various secretarial positions with the U.S. Army, then the U.S. Air Force in Georgia, Oklahoma and Missouri as she accompanied her husband who was an Army officer.
She landed her first job at UMSL in 1996 in what was then called the Campus Computing Department – now Information Technology Services. In 1999, she began working in University Events – now Executive Events – where she worked as an administrative secretary for 10 years in Woods Hall and contributed behind the scenes at every commencement ceremony and relished seeing students walk across the stage as their proud families looked on.
Since 2009, Harvey has served as the executive assistant for the Faculty Senate and University Assembly.
“I like the work that I do, I like the people that I work with, and it feels like we’re all working together to make a difference in people’s lives,” Harvey said of what has kept her at the university nearly 25 years.
Her work supporting the Faculty Senate and University Assembly and their associated committees has given her a great vantage point to observe the changes the university has undergone over the past 12 years. She organizes and attends a lot of meetings, taking minutes and supporting chairs by creating reports and PowerPoint presentations on whatever business is being discussed and debated. Her organizational skills have been even more critical over the past year as she’s been tasked with coordinating remote meetings.
Harvey does her work largely out of view of most members of the campus community, but the fact that eight people nominated her for a Hero Award is evidence that her impact is being noticed.
“Loy Harvey is the driving force that keeps shared governance at UMSL functioning smoothly and efficiently,” Pamela Stuerke, an associate professor of accounting and past chair of the Faculty Senate, wrote in nominating Harvey.
“Despite the challenges of managing faculty, she is unfailingly organized, detail-oriented, thoughtful and diplomatic,” Hall wrote. “She somehow manages to keep the multiple parts of faculty governance from running into each other. Much of what we got done wouldn’t be possible without her efforts, which are often in the background.”
“I have simply been overwhelmed at how much she does and her complete and absolute dedication to UMSL,” McGinnis wrote. “She is simply the best.”
Justine Patterson, pre-clinical academic advisor in the College of Nursing
Patterson has an easy explanation for why she decided to get into academic advising as a career.
“I loved college,” she said. “I still love college. If I could be a student forever, I would, and this was as close as I could get to it.”
She had a good experience at the University of Tennessee, but Patterson didn’t always feel like she had as much support from her advisors as she wanted as an undergraduate student. She navigated the process of choosing her classes and building her schedules just fine on her own and even helped a few of her friends do the same.
After relocating to St. Louis, Patterson enrolled in UMSL’s MEd program in adult and higher education to get formal training so she could better help students maximize their education. That led to a job as an academic advisor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and she stayed 2½ years before an opportunity to return to UMSL and advise students in the College of Nursing presented itself.
“I just really value the people that work here because the mission is so consistent throughout all the employees,” she said. “We know what we’re doing, we know who we’re doing it for and why the work matters. You see the benefit in the community.”
In nominating Patterson for a Hero Award, Colette Dixon, the assistant dean of students and alumni affairs, specifically praised Patterson’s work to help create a Bridge to BSN program with underrepresented minority students from Lewis and Clark Community College’s East St. Louis Higher Education Center in Illinois. Under the program, the students will begin taking courses in East St. Louis but will have individualized academic supports and will receive a renewable $1,000 Community Partnership Scholarship when they transfer to UMSL to pursue their BSN.
“Justine jumped on the opportunity to lead the College of Nursing team with the Lewis and Clark Bridge to BSN Program,” Dixon wrote. “She has worked on the project for the past two years with the now official launch. She has built rapport with the East St. Louis team, making this collaboration seamless. I believe that her interest in bringing diversity to the nursing workforce will encourage and motivate the 15-20 students that we hope will come to UMSL. I appreciate all of her behind the scenes work and time committed to this project.”
Mike Toohey, systems administrator with Information Technology Services
Toohey started working in ITS as an undergraduate student almost 18 years ago and has never left.
Asked what’s kept him in ITS so long he said: “The learning opportunities – getting to learn all the different technologies as they become available. I started off basically as a Windows administrator, but as new opportunities came up in my department, I would go get training on new things. A new application would suddenly come in, and I’d be told, ‘OK, well, let me see everything I can learn about this application. Now, you’re going to go ahead and lead our support of that application.’”
The job has never gotten stale.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of different people and a lot of different projects,” said Toohey, who’s now pursuing a master’s degree in information systems and technology while continuing his day job. “There are so many different things all around the campus. Every project is an opportunity to see what some other unit or some other department is doing. I really enjoy those interactions that we have – just taking time to meet with people to see what their goals are and to try and figure out what technology tools will help them meet those goals.”
Toohey excels at coming up with solutions tailored to the needs of the people with whom he’s working.
“Throughout my time at UMSL, Mike Toohey has been an important collaborator as well as a responsive and engaged partner with University Marketing and Communications as we work to transform lives through education,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications Justin Roberts wrote in nominating Toohey. “Most will never understand or see the technology infrastructures that serve as foundational systems that enable student learning and employee productivity, but Mike is keenly aware and understands how each piece of the puzzle fits into our collective efforts. Day or night, Mike is a responsive, collaborative and engaged colleague who works tirelessly to support the technology infrastructures that advance this university.”
Each recipient of the Hero Award will receive a lapel pin in recognition of their contributions. To nominate staff or faculty members for the UMSL Hero Award, visit https://www.umsl.edu/chancellor/heroes/index.html.