Stetson Presents Awards at Virtual Employee Recognition Celebration

montage of 10 mugshots
Top row, from left to right, Elise Paulson, Cory Lancaster, Sidney Johnston, Leigh Baker and Jason Mellen; bottom row, left to right, Lizzie Dement, Lynn Schoenberg, Paula Hentz, Justin Dees and Nora Huth Lewis.

This year’s Ultimate Hatter Award winner helped Stetson STEM faculty win a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation and also helped secure a $359,000 Andrew W. Mellon grant for Stetson’s prison education project.

Sidney Johnston, assistant director of Grants, Sponsored Research and Strategic Initiatives, had an incredible year for those accomplishments and others. He received the Quality of Service Council’s Ultimate Hatter award, whose recipients embody the mission of the university, exhibit exemplary service in their daily work and make a notable contribution to a department or university project.

“Every day, his work reflects the best of Stetson through his generosity, his enthusiasm, and his intense focus on building our capacity through grants, sponsored research, and strategic initiatives,” said Wendy Viggiano, co-chair of the Quality of Service Council and a program coordinator at WORLD.

The Quality of Service Council received 140 nominations for this year’s employee awards, a 154% increase from the last awards event in 2019. The Employee Recognition Celebration did not take place last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other award winners included:

screenshot of slide, Employee Celebration 2021
  • Adapter of the Year: Lynn Schoenberg, Dean of Students and Co-Chair of the Stetson Safer Campus Task Force, which has recommended safety and health procedures to protect the Stetson community during the pandemic. Schoenberg “was able to shift her focus to campus COVID response which led to Stetson having a successful academic year given all the challenges that COVID brought to our campus.”
  • Communicator of the Year: Cory Lancaster, Director of Internal Communications, who “consistently puts in an immense amount of work to keep the university fully informed.”
  • GO Beyond Award: Justin Dees, Supervisor, Grounds Maintenance in Facilities Management, who “embodies this award.  If ever there is a need, this individual is around to help and will always do it without a second thought.”
  • Mentor of the Year: Lizzie Dement, Assistant Director of Student Leadership Development, Office of Student Development and Campus Vibrancy, who works with students and “sees their potential, motivation, and abilities while working with them, then guides and mentors them throughout their time here at Stetson. She sees student growth as a success.”
  • Morale Builder of the Year: Nora Huth Lewis, Assistant Director of Student Employment, Office of Human Resources, who was called “the Queen of Random Acts of Kindness as she consistently boosts the spirits of others” and “a ray of sunshine on campus.”
  • P.A.R. Award (for Professionalism, Attitude and Reliability): Paula Hentz, Director of International Learning in WORLD, who, like other administrators in her field of work, “experienced a roller coaster of activity associated with the pandemic – from carefully building programs to seeing them come to a screeching halt, evacuating students across the globe, watching valued colleagues across the world lose jobs, to border restrictions, political battles, ICE complications, and other global dynamics.”
  • Problem Solver of the Year: Elise Paulson, Director of Risk Management, who “has been a constant go-to and solution finder throughout the COVID-19 pandemic” and “an integral team member for the Safer Stetson Campus Task Force.”
  • Innovator of the Year: Jason Mellen, who created an “entire infrastructure” that Stetson needed during the pandemic “to support modifications to check in, testing, contact tracing, automated communication, isolation management and vaccination tracking.”
  • Community Builder of the Year: Leigh Baker, Director of Counseling Center, Student Counseling Services, who led her department through an “unavoidably drastic shift” in services during the pandemic and kept “her approachability, her humor, her compassion, and her ability to ensure we were staying safe and caring for ourselves.”

Stetson President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, thanked all employees for working “incredibly hard during an unprecedented year at Stetson University.”

“As your new president, I could not be more proud of how we have all worked together and worked so hard – in ways that we could not have even imagined – to enable a Stetson education to move forward for our wonderful students,” he said.