Sandy Smith Is March Employee of the Month

Posted: March 1, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Usually the Employee of the Month award is presented in President Alan Merten’s office, but this month the ceremony will move to the Prince William Campus where Sandy Smith works. Smith, office manager for the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism (RHT), has been named the March Employee of the Month, and the award will be presented during the Prince William Advisory Board’s meeting on March 8.

Smith says she was “very excited” to win the award. “My boss [David Wiggins, director of RHT] called me at home on the weekend to tell me so I wouldn’t hear it from anyone else first.”

Smith has been with George Mason for nearly 20 years and worked for the Graduate School of Education’s Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities before moving over to Recreation, Health and Tourism, which was then a department, about 10 years ago.

A year after she joined RHT, most of its operations were transferred to the Prince William Campus. Smith oversaw that move, which she terms “quite a challenge,” as well as RHT’s move from the Occoquan Building to Bull Run Hall last year. Her expertise in coordinating these moves is cited by nearly everyone who nominated her for the Employee of the Month honor. And nearly everyone uses superlatives to describe her: “the absolute best,” “most exemplary” and “extraordinarily competent.”

“Sandy is the first person that I and others in RHT turn to when we have questions about course scheduling, finances, office space, travel arrangements and any number of other issues,” says Wiggins. “She seemingly always knows the answers to our endless number of questions.”

Robert Ruhling, a professor in RHT, says he values Smith’s initiative, pleasing personality, accuracy and efficiency, adding, “She is a rare person who not only enjoys her job but also enjoys those whom she interacts with on a daily basis.”

“Always courteous to students and guests, always helpful on the phone, and always accountable with academic and payroll records, she is an office manager extraordinaire,” says Brenda Wiggins, associate professor and coordinator of student affairs for RHT. “We wouldn’t be as well respected outside our unit, or as happy within RHT, without Sandy Smith at the helm.”

Ellen Drogin Rodgers, director of the Center for Recreation and Tourism Research and Policy, notes the efforts Smith makes to juggle the interests of the rapidly growing school “comprising eight areas of study, four research and policy centers, two graduate programs, approximately 25 faculty members, classified staff, students and a significant cadre of adjunct faculty … School operations span multiple campuses and involve use of numerous off-campus facilities, and the distance education master’s program entails coordination of students and support staff nationwide. Mrs. Smith demonstrates an awe-inspiring command of all logistics.”

To Smith, it’s all in a day’s work. “I guess age has its benefits,” she laughs. “I know the rules and I remember why we do things a certain way when people ask.” She adds, “We keep growing – and that’s good. It’s been interesting.”

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