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Communications ‘lifeline’ helps others stay informed

When burst pipes and other calamities struck all over campus in January 2004 due to 20-below temperatures, Debbie Hill took the several hundred calls from frantic university members, calmed them down and organized a troubleshooting plan. Maybe not your typical day, but Hill, plant communication coordinator for Facility Operations, did it with composure and style.

“She’s our lifeline for everything we do in our jobs,” said Annette Barton, Fac Ops maintenance mechanic II, whose work depends on communications dispatched by Hill. “She lets us know what’s going on, where we need to be and what equipment is needed … we rely heavily on her skills.”

An employee at WSU for nearly 20 years, Hill has seen it all. And through it all, she has helped out with grace and a smile. She has received awards within Fac Ops, and now she is receiving the universitywide attention she deserves as a 2005 President’s Employee Excellence Award recipient.

“I have been here during power outages and when pipes have been broken in the middle of the streets,” Hill said. “You just learn to take it in stride and not get shaken up.”

That’s not an easy challenge when you consider all that Hill must do. It is not uncommon for her to be monitoring computer controlled systems, answering the phone, dispatching and responding to the radio all at the same time.

Hill’s interests and involvement do not end as the plant coordinator. She has remained actively involved in her children’s schooling, 4-H and FFA activities, served the Whitman County fair for 16 years and is currently serving as a clerk for its livestock sale.

Despite her awards and accomplishments, Hill remains humble. “It is quite an honor to receive this award, and I am very proud to get it. There are so many other people on campus that deserve the award as well,” she said.

“I enjoy the work that I do, and the people I work with are great — without them this job would be boring!”

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