Dec. 23, 2005
Morningside College has awarded the 2005 Thomas S. Thompson Staff Excellence Awards to Shari Benson (left), administrative assistant to the dean of students; Kirk Johnson (center), director of physical plant; Char Jorgensen (second from left), Management Information System (MIS) coordinator for admissions; Stephanie Peters (far right), senior associate director of admissions; Marcie Ponder (second from right), administrative assistant for the Departments of English, Theatre, and Modern Languages; and Ron Stabile (photo to right), assistant maintenance supervisor. Johnson was also named the Staff Employee of the Year.
The annual awards are funded by an endowment established by Margaret Thompson, wife of the late Dr. Thomas S. Thompson, who served as president of Morningside from 1969 to 1978. He passed away in 1999.
Morningside President John Reynders presented the awards at the annual Christmas banquet held last night at the Olsen Student Center on campus. The recipients will each receive a bonus of $4,000. As employee of the year, Johnson will receive $5,000.
The recipients, who were nominated by their peers, were selected based upon their demonstration of outstanding dedication, service, and commitment to Morningside and its students during the 2004-05 academic year. Criteria for selection included the nominees’ contributions to their respective departments, their representation in campus organizations, and their service and volunteer efforts towards fulfilling the college’s mission statement.
Benson, a resident of Lawton, Iowa, has held several positions since she began working at Morningside College in 1989. Her current duties include, among others, coordinating the daily operations in the student services office; serving as liaison for students with academic and health concerns; and administering and proctoring tests for students with disabilities. This past year, she also served as director of freshman orientation and the campus judicial officer.
Benson is active with the youth of Redeemer Lutheran Church and in the music program at the Lawton-Bronson High School. She was treasurer of the Lawton-Bronson After-Prom committee this past year. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Morningside.
Johnson, of Sioux City, joined Morningside’s maintenance department in 1991. He was promoted to maintenance supervisor in 1998 and to his current position in 2002. As director of physical plant, he is responsible for overseeing the maintenance of the facilities and grounds, as well as any improvements or new construction. During the summer of 2005, he oversaw the completion of over $3 million in renovations across the campus, including Phase II of the Elwood Olsen Stadium project, Phase I of the library center project, and the renovation of Roadman Hall’s south wing.
He attends as many events on campus as possible and actively supports his children’s schools.
Jorgensen, of Sioux City, has worked in Morningside’s Admissions office for 19 years. Currently, she manages data, including research, mail flow, and reporting, for the office. She has served as a representative to the Administrative/Staff Council for two years and has just completed two years as representative for United Way. She is active on campus, helping out with commencement exercises and student events.
Jorgensen is also active at St. Josephs Church. She is in her fifteenth consecutive year serving as parish director and has served the same number of years on the Finance Board. She is currently a co-chair of the Diocesan Annual Appeal for the parish and works four nights a month at the church’s bingo nights.
Peters, of Sioux City, came to Morningside in 2000. Her duties include, among others, recruiting prospective students from northern Iowa and Texas, as well as assisting in the development of new publications and the creation and implementation of a direct mail plan. She serves as supervisor of the office’s Student Assistant program and is responsible for recruiting alumni to assist at the Celebration of Excellence Scholar Weekends.
Peters is active at Morningside Lutheran Church, serving on its Sharing and Caring committee. This past spring, she coordinated and participated in a telethon fundraiser for the survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Morningside.
Ponder, of Sioux City, began working at Morningside in 1998. In addition to her duties as administrative assistant for three academic departments, she supports such campus-wide programs as the Academic and Cultural Arts Series (ACAS), Writing on Wednesdays (WOW), and Interdepartmental Honors. She provides assistance to four student organizations and helps with the student publication “The Kiosk,” as well as organizing departmental field trips. Her efforts on behalf of the theatre department’s children’s plays have helped to bring more than 30,000 area children to campus since 1997.
Off-campus, she teaches Sunday school and serves as a back-up driver for the Sioux City Public Library’s Home Delivery program. She attended Morningside from 1983 to 1985 and is currently working towards completing her bachelor’s degree.
Stabile, of Sioux City, has been at Morningside for 16 years. He is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and oversees maintenance of the electrical, heating, air conditioning and plumbing systems. He has served as a mentor to the department’s work-study students and often helps students with such problems as changing flat tires and starting cars.
Stabile has served as a coach for athletic programs at the Siouxland Y and served as a wrestling coach through Catholic youth programs. He donates his time and labor to help the elderly in the community with their home repair needs.