PULLMAN, Wash. — Three Washington State University employees have been named winners of the 1999 WSU President’s Employee Excellence Awards. This is the 10th year for the annual honors program.

Selected by WSU President Samuel Smith upon recommendation of the President’s Employee Excellence Awards Committee are Rita Koontz, administrative services manager, Social and Economic Sciences Research Center; Francis Benjamin, Engineering Technician II, Department of Psychology; and Robert Bonsall, research technologist supervisor, Department of Plant Pathology.

“Their extraordinary efforts are reflective of the work of other members of the WSU staff all around Washington. They have my sincere thanks for what they do and how they do it,” said Smith.  During a public awards reception 11 a.m.-noon on Wednesday, March 24, in the Lewis Alumni Centre, Smith will present each winner with an individual award plaque and a $1,000 award, provided by the WSU Foundation. Following the reception, Smith will hold a private luncheon in the Compton Union Building for the award winners, their supervisors and others.

The awards ceremony is timed to help celebrate the date — March 28, 1890 — when the university was founded.

Selection is based on the employees’ work, including creative and innovative problem-solving, efficiency and productivity, and their contributions to an improved work environment.

Koontz has worked at WSU for 25 years, the past 20 for the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center. Nominators praise her for having “incredible sensitivity and caring for fellow workers and students.” Her accomplishments at improving efficiency and productivity have enabled SESRC to increase its grants activity while at the same time reducing staff, they say.

Koontz is lauded for her “positive attitude and excellent communication style.” His nominators mention Benjamin’s “hard work, skill and strong organizational ability.” His work supervising the Department of Psychology shop and equipment support provides “excellent service” to faculty, staff and students, they say. Furthermore, he is “critical” to maintaining the department’s teaching and research productivity. At WSU for more than 14 years, he is a quiet, positive communicator and facilitator who “goes the extra mile for anyone and everyone.” Bonsall’s nominators call him an “incredibly focused, productive and efficient biochemist.” At WSU since 1982, he supervises, operates and maintains the joint U.S. Department of Agriculture-WSU Plant Pathology Bioanalytical Laboratory. He is a biological control expert, recognized internationally for pioneering new research methods. During Pittcon ’99 — the world’s largest event dealing with analytical chemistry and spectroscopy, March 7-12 in Orlando, Fla. — he was honored by Watters, a scientific instrument corporation, as one of world’s top 10 experts using a chromatograph, an instrument used in chemical analysis of gases and liquids.  

Names of all President’s Employee Excellence Award winners are displayed on a plaque in a showcase on the third floor of WSU’s French Administration Building in Pullman.

Classified staff and administrative/professional employees at WSU locations across the state were nominated. Ken Spitzer, a College of Sciences assistant dean, chairs the selection committee.