Author: Alexxa Gotthardt
Last Thursday, members of the Middlebury College community gathered at a lunch reception in McCardell Bicentennial Hall to celebrate the winners of this year’s Faculty and Staff Appreciation Awards. The Marjorie Lamberti Faculty Appreciation Award was presented to Assistant Professor of Economics Jon Isham and The Rodney and Beverly DeGray Staff Appreciation Award was presented to Public Safety Officer Chris Thompson.
The College’s Student Government Association (SGA) created the Staff Appreciation Award in 1995 and in 1996 added the Faculty Appreciation Award. Since then, faculty and staff members have been honored annually for “outstanding contributions to the student body.”
To determine the recipients of both awards, Dean of Faculty Susan Campbell requested nominations in an e-mail to all students. The nominations for the Staff Appreciation Award were then reviewed by the SGA Senate, which subsequently chose Thompson as this year’s winner.
A public safety officer at Middlebury for just over 2 years, Thompson has quickly become a very visible, welcome presence on campus. As described in SGA President Andrew Jacobi’s speech at Thursday’s ceremony, Thompson “straddles the line perfectly between being an enforcer of College policies and a friend to the student body. His presence on the weekends is always a welcomed sight, never an intrusion,” Jacobi added.
“I am truly honored and thank each and every student at Middlebury College,” said Thompson upon receiving the award. “This award will always be special to me. Special because it makes the Department of Public Safety realize that we are appreciated for the job that we do, but especially for the fact that students felt I was deserving enough to receive this award.”
One of the nominations submitted on Thompson’s behalf perhaps best summed up the student body’s opinion of him: “Officer Thompson is nothing short of a friend to the students of Middlebury College.” Thompson noted Thursday that the friendship was mutual.
The selection process for the Marjorie Lamberti Faculty Appreciation Award ran slightly differently than that of the staff appreciation award. In 2002, Professor Emeritus of History Lamberti, one of the award’s first nominees, was made its namesake by the SGA in recognition of her service and dedication to the College community. In addition to this honor, Lamberti endowed the award and introduced several stipulations to the selection process of the student-suggested nominees. First, that the recipient should be a professor who “encourages and supports students in their search for knowledge and in their intellectual development both inside and outside the classroom.” Second, that the winner should be chosen by a panel of five upperclassmen of diverse majors.
This year’s panel, consisting of students John Schirm ’05, Jennifer A. Kim ’05, Elizabeth Breuer ’05, Karin Colyer ’05, Yen-I Chen ’06 and supervised by SGA Chief of Staff Alfonso Maraver ’05, chose Isham as the award’s recipient.
Isham, according to one nomination, was the ideal recipient because of his “unique ability to both transfer knowledge and inspire his students.” Another nomination echoed this admiration, saying that Isham “stands alone in his dedication to community engagement through service learning projects and his relentless drive to make course material more meaningful in the lives of students.”
“Marjorie Lamberti was on every account an inspriring teacher,” said Isham in reaction to winning the prize, “so I am honored to receive this award that bears her name.” Isham added, “I am of course very thankful to those students who offered my nomination.”
The ceremony in both Thompson and Isham’s honor was held in the Great Hall. Jacobi presented both recipients with a certificate and flowers. In addition, Isham was awarded a research grant endowed by Lamberti.
“The reception was very nice,” said Jacobi. “All nominees were invited, and I think it was really nice to be able to honor everyone for their contributions to the students.”