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Appalachian staff members recognized for dedication, excellence

By Megan Hayes

BOONE—During Appalachian State University’s opening meeting for faculty and staff for the fall semester on Friday, Aug. 26, four members of the university’s staff were recognized with awards recognizing their exemplary service, commitment, collegiality and leadership to the university community.

View larger imageLivelle Leon Rodriguez, accounting technician in University Advancement, has worked at Appalachian for nine years. She was awarded a 2016 Staff Excellence Award. Photo by Marie FreemanView larger imageBarry Sauls, director of Parking and Traffic, has worked at Appalachian for 18 years. He was awarded a 2016 Staff Excellence Award. Photo courtesy of Barry SaulsView larger imageLori Townsend, senior associate director in Student Financial Aid, has worked at Appalachian for 14 years. She was awarded a 2016 Staff Excellence Award. Photo by Marie FreemanView larger imageTom Van Gilder, interim director of Learning Technology Services, has worked at Appalachian for 17 years. He was awarded a 2016 Staff Excellence Award. Photo by Gina Slagle

Director of Human Resources Mark Bachmeier presented the 2016 Staff Excellence Awards to Livelle Leon Rodriguez, Barry Sauls, Lori Townsend and Tom Van Gilder, who were chosen by a review committee from a pool of 59 nominations.

Leon Rodriguez, an accounting technician in University Advancement, has worked at Appalachian for nine years. Lauded in her nomination for her professional contributions to her department as well as her compassion, she was described as someone who always makes time to help others, no matter how busy she might be. “She is the kind of caring person that we should all strive to be,” read one testimonial in her nomination.

Sauls, director of Parking and Traffic since 1998, was described as a relationship builder who continually strives to improve the customer service of his division and “goes above and beyond the call of duty to help students, staff and faculty in times of need.” In addition to his dedication to his fellow staff, he was also praised in his nomination for his service to the broader community. He was described as the embodiment of the motto shared by both the state of North Carolina and the university: “to be rather than to seem.”

Townsend, senior associate director in Student Financial Aid, has worked at Appalachian for 14 years. She was described in her nomination as a dedicated employee and creative problem solver who “constantly works to set aside long-held assumptions and think differently regarding our processes and services for students.” Her leadership in implementing two highly successful initiatives, one to improve process and timely completion of financial aid processes for incoming new students and one focusing on early completion of financial aid packages for returning students, resulted in an increase in the number of students completing financial aid applications, which led to more aid being awarded earlier. This improvement has made critical differences in the lives of the 70 percent of Appalachian students who rely on some form of financial aid.

Van Gilder, who is currently serving as interim director of Learning Technology Services, has worked at Appalachian for 17 years. He was praised for his collaborative leadership style, sense of humor and practical and fun approach to project management. Recognized for his leadership in the campus transition to Google services, his nomination called out his creative style of implementing the project, which included a “Masters of the Univers-ity” rollout. He was also lauded for his efforts to support a friend and community member who suffered a serious injury from an accident. His nominators said, “Tom has taught us all lessons in friendship, determination, perseverance and leadership.”

The Staff Excellence Awards are presented annually to up to four members of Appalachian’s staff for outstanding service to the university and the state of North Carolina. Speaking on behalf of the selection committee, Bachmeier said, “It is incredibly challenging to select only four from among the many deserving nominees.”

For more information about Appalachian’s Staff Excellence Awards, contact Janice Jackson in the Office of Human Resources at 828-262-3187 or jacksonjg@appstate.edu.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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