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Eastern Illinois University

Office of the President

Presidential Distinguished Service Award

Presidential Distinguished Service Award recipients are recognized for their extraordinary and exemplary service to our University community.

All full-time employees with at least one year of full-time service are eligible to be nominated. Nominees should personify the EIU brand of All In and all things that make EIU a special and unique place to live, learn, and work. Nominations will be reviewed by members of the President’s Council who will provide recommendations to the president for final selection. Up to five Service Award recipients will be chosen, each receiving special recognition at the President's State of the University address, along with award plaques commemorating their admirable achievements.

2023 Recipients

 Julia Awalt, Office Administrator, Housing & Dining

Julia is recognized as “a warrior and advocate for each student that steps foot on our campus regardless if they are in housing or off-campus” and one nominator described her as a “warm, empathetic and above all sincere” colleague who cares deeply about our students.

 Nate Brown, Building Service Foreman, Facilities Planning & Management

A familiar face to everyone across campus. As his nominator notes he has “a positive attitude that is infectious” and he makes everything work “behind the scenes”. This individual cares deeply about this campus and the people he works with.

 Becky Shew, Support Manager, Information Technology Services

A dedicated colleague who has transformed the culture of EIU’s ITS help desk. Her supervisor reports — and I know everyone in this room can attest to the fact that she is a kind, helpful, and trusted voice on the other end of the line on many tech support calls.

 Dr. Heidi Larson, Professor, Counseling & Higher Education

A faculty member whose service to the community and commitment to K-12 education represents service in action.  She spearheaded a highly successful high school mentoring program at Mattoon High School and brought here to EIU as Freshman & Transfer Connection.

 Christy Kilgore, Director of Marketing & Communications

Described by a nominator as an individual with an “energy and tone that is always a welcoming, inviting, and deeply authentic” — she’s a person who lives and oversees the everyday operations of the EIU brand. And her colleagues note that she “supports us and challenges us to do our best” and does so with a “big picture” vision that is complemented by an attention to detail.

2022 Recipients

 Debra Buell, Building Service Worker, Facilities Planning & Management

Debra is an energetic and optimistic Building Service Worker who takes incredible pride in her work, and is always going the extra mile to keep her building [Old Main] clean and inviting. One nominator commented, "She does her very best and it shows. She always comes in with a great attitude that puts a smile on your face, and she creates personal connections with the people not just in our office but all of them in the building."

 Sandy King, Graphic Designer/Athletics Photographer, Intercollegiate Athletics

Sandy is a Graphic Designer and Athletic Photographer for EIU’s Intercollegiate Athletic programs. She can be seen day and night capturing the excitement and accomplishments of EIU’s student-athletes.  Those who know her are quick to share that Sandy will always welcome colleagues with a hug and a smile.  One nominator further clarified: "She is the best example of school spirit, sacrificial friendship, and general 'positive attitude' found anywhere on campus — and there are a LOT of nice people at EIU."

 Jody E. Stone, Senior Associate Director of Housing & Dining

Jody is currently EIU’s Senior Associate Director of Housing and Dining and has provided more than 20 years of outstanding service to the University. Several nominators commented that he does tremendous work leading his team. You will always find him problem solving and tackling a variety of unique and challenging issues to discover a path to a collaborative solution. During the pandemic he worked to provide 24/7 coverage to help make arrangements to move those who lived on campus and needed to be in quarantine or isolation housing due to COVID-19. 

 Jenny L. Stout, Associate Director, Financial Aid & Scholarships

Jenny is EIU’s Financial Aid Associate Director, and was recognized for her dedication and demonstration of being ALL IN for EIU. She has been described as "personifying all that we at EIU work towards and hold dear.  She is a selfless and dedicated person.  Her knowledge and abilities have no bounds, nor does her dedication to work, and those she works with and for. Her continued support … has been tremendous over the years, and she continues to play a vital role in our success!  There is absolutely no one more deserving."

 Evan M. Kubicek, Instructor, School of Business

Evan Kubicek is an instructor of Marketing in the Lumpkin College of Business and Technology. One of Evan’s nominators shared that he is deserving of this award for all the things he does inside and outside the classroom on behalf of EIU.  He’s involved in student recruitment, RSO advising, serves on numerous committees, and works as an innovation coach, demonstrating his commitment to service across the entire enterprise EIU every day.

2021 Recipients

 Rhonda Bence, Cashier III, Bursar’s Office

Rhonda continually personifies All In customer service in her interactions with EIU students when paying on their accounts and with campus departments making their depositing. She is but one outstanding member of the entire Bursar’s Office and is a wonderful role model for us all.

 Carla Nelson, Space Administrator II, Office of the Registrar

Carla has served the University for over 25 years and is known for being a kind, caring, helpful, and dedicated colleague always going the extra mile with every task or request. Carla played a pivotal role in navigating multiple University-wide course schedule re-configurations affecting hundreds of course sections necessary for our successes in navigating the pandemic.

 Emma Noble, Interim Director of EIU’s Health Education Resource Center

Emma unselfishly gave up much of her normal work responsibilities last year and this year to coordinate and oversee EIU’s COVID testing program. Her service to the university has been extraordinary.

 Dr. Catherine Polydore, Assistant Dean of the Honors College, Professor Department of Counseling & Higher Education

Dr. Polydore is a highly visible campus leader and an effective advocate of EIU’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, including launching the annual RISE conference and recent collaborations with colleagues on the HLC Quality Initiative. Her outstanding service and dedication to the student experience is most deserving of recognition.

 Jerry Rankin, IT Technical Associate, Information Technology Services

Jerry Rankin, IT Technical Associate, has played a crucial role in keeping critical infrastructure available throughout EIU’s COVID response, working many nights and weekends so that these systems are available to campus users during normal business hours.



Vice President of Academic Affairs and ProvostVice President of Business AffairsVice President of Student AffairsVice President of University Advancement


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