VU in the News

Bravo! VU colleagues recognized for exceptional work!

October 15, 2020

VINCENNES, Ind. – Vincennes University’s strength is its people. The Peer Recognition Award annually recognizes the achievements, dedication, contributions, and excellence of VU faculty and staff.

The 2020 Peer Recognition Award recipients are:

  • Stephen Black, Professor of Art and Design
  • Paul Blair, Red Skelton Performing Arts Center Technical Director, Sound Engineer & Theatre Technician, BlazerVision Supervisor and Recording Arts Instructor
  • Toni Eagleson, Chemistry Laboratory Supervisor
  • Pamela Gardner, Professor and Chair of Practical Nursing
  • Bradley McCarter, Maintenance Technician
  • Marcia Martinez, University Life Reporter and Sports Information Director
  • Carmen Ridgway, Secretary, Institutional Effectiveness and Research

“Congratulations and thanks to all the award winners and fine individuals here at VU. We are fortunate to have so many faculty and staff committed to making sure students have access to resources, opportunities, and an environment conducive to student success and post-college prosperity,” VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson said.

Peers nominate VU faculty and staff based on exemplary service and performance. Recipients are then selected by the President’s Advisory Committee. The 2020 award winners were celebrated during a limited-attendance reception on Oct. 14 at Green Activities Center. The ceremony was streamed on Zoom.

ABOUT THE RECIPIENTS - These excerpts were taken from each award recipient’s nomination submission.

Stephen Black, Professor of Art and Design

Steve Black has shown outstanding efforts in promoting the Art and Design Department and Vincennes University beyond his normal job responsibilities these past several years. Steve spearheaded the implementation of hosting the AEAI Annual Convention at VU in November 2019 which brought more the 150 K-12 art teachers to the main VU campus for the entire weekend. This event built awareness of VU and its Art and Design programs and campus facilities within many school corporations throughout Indiana. During the event, Steve played many roles during the entire weekend. Without Steve’s extraordinary efforts, this event would not have happened. During the preparations for the remodel of Shircliff Humanities, Steve has taken the initiative to coordinate the moving of the Art and Design Department out of the C-Wing. In addition to teaching his fill load of classes online, Steve spent many hours working in the building during the campus shutdown due to COVID-19 to ensure the department had what it needed to hold classes in the fall semester. Also, during the transition to online learning due to COVID-19, Steve eagerly volunteered to help one of the Department’s adjunct faculty make the transition from traditional methodologies to Blackboard. He not only helped a VU faculty member, but his efforts also helped all of the students enrolled in the class. Steve was also instrumental in preparing for our semi-annual hosting of the National Portfolio Day event in the fall of 2018. Once again, Steve was the VU liaison for over 15 other universities across the nation – sending them important travel and setup information and making sure they all had everything necessary for the event. These are just some examples of how Steve is always eager to help his colleagues, the Art and Design Department, and Vincennes University as a whole. He does it all with a smile on his face and in the spirit that we are all working together for the common good.

Paul Blair, RSPAC Technical Director, Sound Engineer & Theatre Technician, BlazerVision Supervisor, Recording Arts Instructor

That's a lot of “hats” for anyone to wear. Paul does all this and more while maintaining a true servant's heart. Last school year began with an amazing challenge. Our main recording console was wearing out and Paul, being an amazing electronic technician, regularly spent extra hours repairing this 12-year-old console. When the University funded replacement of the console, Paul stepped up and took lead on the installation of our new console wiring and routing an improved wiring harness throughout our studios. This is above and beyond what Paul was required to do and is yet another example of how invested he is in our University. Lastly, Paul's work with students and his above and beyond approach is greatly exemplified through his work following the untimely death of VU Audio Recording major Evan Twitty. Paul, along with several of our audio recording students, set up sound and AV for Evan's funeral at South Knox High School's gymnasium. Paul also spoke at Evan's “celebration of life”. I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this award. His selflessness and servant's heart shows Paul's value to our University, our department, and our students.

Toni Eagleson, Chemistry Laboratory Supervisor

Toni’s resounding phrase is “Just let me know what you need.” Her primary responsibilities (preparing chemicals, equipment, and instruments for multiple courses located in six laboratory rooms) is already a full-time job, but she goes beyond this. She serves the VU community as a selfless team player through an active role in the SEM scholarship committee and chairs the safety committee. She was vice president of the Professional Staff Congress last year and this year she is on the professional development funds committee and chair of the membership/elections committee. Toni works on every special project and event for the College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics, including Biology/Chemistry Teachers Workshop, Science Fridays, High School Lab Days, Merit Badge University, Lab Coat ceremony, Girl Scouts STEM camp, and VU-Evansville STEM camp. She often does more than “just let me know what you need” for each of these events including filling in for event hosts, registration, and other important tasks. She is an excellent steward of resources often looking to find other uses for the inventory. She coordinates with the chemical hygiene officer, keeping inventory records, and recycling and reusing everything possible to save money. She works to make other’s work easier and safer. She mentors and guides student workers allowing them to gain practical experience in experiment set-up and other laboratory projects, and opens future doors for our students. As a dedicated educator, Toni instructs lab sections in many chemistry courses and is dedicated to the success of the students she instructs. You still heard her mantra during Covid-19, “Just let me know what you need.” Toni completes her full-time job, service to others, and so much more as she embodies the motto and mission of VU.

Pamela Gardner, Professor and Chair of Practical Nursing

Every day she diligently goes above and beyond the call of duty for not only the students we serve, but the University we call family. It is clear her heart for her students is what drives her. She always puts the needs and concerns of the faculty who teach in the program before her own needs and is willing to lend aid in a moment's notice. As a mentor, she is the best! Her sense of obligation goes beyond the first (and even second) year! She is always there to lend her professional opinion on issues that come up. She has faithfully served Vincennes University for 30 years in a number of different roles which have given her a level of knowledge of university processes and procedures and expertise in our systems that makes her the "go-to" person for information about almost anything. She often asks the "hard questions" when they need to be asked. Her involvement in the community help to make Vincennes and Knox County a great place to live and is loved by many.

Bradley McCarter, Maintenance Technician

Brad is the glue that holds our department together in a sense, as his position requires him to wear several hats to keep all of our lab areas flowing smoothly. No matter what the task may be, he will approach it with a positive attitude towards resolving the issue. The saying goes “A Clean Shop, Is A Happy Shop” and Brad definitely does his due diligence to make that ring true here at VU through his efforts. When our enrollment exceeds our staff availability, Brad, as a Precision Machining graduate himself, has stepped in to assist with the extra teaching load. He works additional hours on his non-teaching days to keep our areas functioning for the precision machining students. A person would think this extra workload would drag a person down, but not Brad, his attitude is always positive and uplifting toward the rest of our team. The students, who are fortunate to have him as a teacher, regularly talk about how much they enjoy Mr. McCarter’s class. Outside of his duties within the precision machining department, Brad will also help out the other manufacturing departments when they need extra assistance. It is for all of these reasons and so many more that we nominate Mr. McCarter for a Peer Recognition Award.

Marcia Martinez, University Life Reporter and Sports Information Director

Marcia Martinez always works hard to ensure stories of student successes; alumni and the VU community are being shared with the world. She wears many hats and does not hesitate to step up to the plate when something needs to be done or someone needs help. She specifically went above and beyond with the Covid-19 situation. Marcia always ensured she was available 24-7 to assist with crisis communications, sending Rave alerts, updating web and social media, and writing/sending press releases. She refused to leave the office until all was completed. Which meant there were many days she worked well into the evening to ensure all students, faculty, and staff were informed. She is able to handle fast-paced and stressful situations with patience and grace. I enjoy working with Marcia each and every day and could not be more blessed to have her help during the Covid-19 crisis.

Carmen Ridgway, Secretary, Institutional Effectiveness and Research

Institutional Effectiveness is an office that often operates behind the scenes but serves an important role in the success of VU. Few people know the work of the office, but many rely on its efforts to maintain accreditation. Carmen Ridgway’s dedication to the work of institutional effectiveness has been a tremendous asset to the office. She goes above and beyond to ensure the office functions effectively and can fulfill its mission successfully, often staying past regular office hours. Some examples of her exemplary efforts include: working in the IE office until the early morning hours to finalize and submit VU’s accreditation portfolio; maintaining the IE website including the materials for three assessment committees, and diligently keeps everyone on-track with agendas, minutes, and file organization; and working on VU’s AAC&U assessment collaborative catalog, organizing student artifacts and learning new systems. She serves as the front-line individual assisting faculty and staff with technical issues and processes with a calm, supportive, and helpful demeanor. She provides feedback, support, and ideas for positive impactful changes to IE processes, forms, and data collection. She also helps to create streamlined processes, volunteers to assist with new projects, offers to take on extra tasks, and seeks to continually learn. She plays a key role in helping with many logistical aspects of HLC visits and assists with Assessment day and logistical components of it to ensure smooth and effective execution.

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