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Five earn President’s Employee Excellence Awards

PULLMAN, Wash. – Five staff members will receive 2012-13 President’s Employee Excellence Awards at the Celebrating Excellence Recognition Banquet on March 29, part of the Washington State University Showcase annual celebration of faculty, staff and student achievement.
The awards recognize civil service and administrative professional staff for outstanding contributions regarding work quality, efficiency, productivity, problem solving, work relations and community service.
The honorees are:
Joseph Beck, classified staff, window washer with Facilities Services.
Nominators noted his innovative ideas for safely and efficiently accessing new windows in new buildings. He consistently and competently goes out of the way to ensure customers’ needs are met – and does so in a friendly, helpful manner. He works well as a team with co-award winner Barry Birdsell.
Beck is “probably the most pleasant person to work with on campus,” said one nominator. Beck plans in advance to contact others who will be affected by his window washing schedule so their needs can be addressed.
Barry Birdsell, classified staff, window washer with Facilities Services.
He has adapted new technology in order to complete his work more safely and efficiently, said nominators. He consistently and competently goes out of the way to ensure customers’ needs are met – and does so in a friendly, helpful manner. He works well as a team with co-award winner Joseph Beck.
Birdsell’s “positive interaction with building clients and his ability to work with and around their schedules is phenomenal.” He seems to sincerely enjoy people and his work.
Heather Burke, administrative professional staff, program administrative manager with the Office of Intellectual Property.
She manages WSU’s patenting process finances, the research park (tenants, leases, insurance, maintenance, etc.) and the research foundation audit. In addition to expert direction of these varied responsibilities, she has filled other posts as interim when colleagues left the office and has implemented many efficiencies – including one that saved $200,000 over four years through an in-house payment system.
Despite duties that pull her in many directions, Burke remains positive and courteous with customers and co-workers. She helps with her children’s sports teams and volunteers with Rotary, Cub Scouts and Gritman Medical Center.
Heather Cochran, administrative professional staff, academic coordinator with the Department of Psychology.
Her broad experience and thorough knowledge of resources available to help students succeed at WSU and beyond contribute to her expertise as an outstanding advisor. She insists that advisees learn to “navigate the system” on their own to enhance their professional development and personal growth. She helps students construct multi-year plans to get the most from their time at WSU – a remarkable undertaking, considering that she advises upwards of 450 students.
Cochran cares about students and the challenge to help them figure out the “right fit” so they can make the most of their talents and interests. She is energetic, good-natured, receptive to feedback and collaborative with co-workers.
Norene Phillipson, classified staff, program coordinator with Facilities Operations at WSU Spokane.
As the vital communication link between Facilities Operations and the WSU Spokane campus, she consolidates and coordinates an “unbelievable work load” while remaining attentive to detail and responsive to the inquiries and needs of others. She serves and organizes many campus and community committees and regularly works with community service groups and regional institutions.
Phillipson is a hardworking, positive, professional and pleasant ambassador for WSU Spokane.  Her connections with outside institutions and services – including her church, community service groups and her children’s activities – have greatly benefited the campus’s reputation.
Reservations for the award banquet open later this month at In addition to the banquet, WSU Showcase includes the Distinguished Faculty Address (March 28); the Academic Showcase display of faculty, staff and student work (March 29); and SURCA, the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (March 29).

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