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Physics Department's Justin Mason Honored as December Employee of the Month

It didn't take long for Justin Mason to make an impact in the physics department. Hired in March 2012 as a laboratory and research specialist, Mason has had "an immediate and lasting" impact on the department, said his supervisor, Lisa Okun, who nominated him for Old Dominion's Employee of the Month award.

That impact has been felt by faculty, staff and students throughout the department, according to Okun, who serves as operations manager and assistant to the department chair.

"He is extremely enthusiastic, innovative, professional, knowledgeable, a forward thinker, problem solver and a total team player who works at the highest level in this dynamic environment," Okun said.

In her letter of nomination, Okun included a long list of Mason's specific accomplishments. Among them:

Skillfully orchestrated the myriad of details associated with the daily operations of numerous labs; he ensured all lab experiments and lecture demonstrations were correctly set up and on time to meet course schedules, teaching requirements and faculty requests;

Collaborated with faculty members on new and innovative experiments to incorporate into our labs and teaching demonstrations to improve the students' lab and learning experience;

Always available to assist faculty members with their teaching and research requirements, and enthusiastically and professionally mentored, trained and assisted our graduate research assistants and undergraduate students. He set up the labs so our GRAs could run through the experiments prior to conducting student labs and was always readily available to assist when needed; and

Extremely proactive and innovative, he created a website with over 200 classroom demonstrations and associated equipment, which faculty members can easily access and navigate through to select the appropriate demonstration to incorporate into their lectures.

Okun also called Mason "an outstanding ambassador for both the department and university" when it comes to community outreach. His efforts have included working with others on campus to increase attendance at the public planetarium shows; leading and organizing a "tremendously successful" Physics Department Community Open House; and preparing, transporting and staging hands-on demonstrations and experiments for the annual Virginia Children's Festival.

"Mr. Mason's interactions with all faculty, staff, students and the community have been exemplary," Okun said. "His positive can-do attitude is contagious and he is always willing to assist with any task, which has enhanced the morale of the department."

She added: "Mr. Mason's steadfast dedication to the mission of the department, university and community outreach programs is most exceptional."

In addition to this latest award as ODU's December Employee of the Month, Mason was recognized earlier as the Hourly and Classified Employees Association Rookie Staff Member of the Year for 2013.


The University Employee of the Month Selection Committee encourages employees to nominate their outstanding, "go the extra mile" colleagues and employees. This program is designed to acknowledge and reward employees whose accomplishments and/or demeanor exemplify excellence, quality service and commitment to ODU. Classified and AP faculty employees receive a framed certificate from the president, $175 and one day of leave. Hourly winners get $250, since they are not eligible to receive recognition leave.

Note: The selection committee needs specific examples that relate to each applicable criterion in order to select a nominee for the award. Nominations remain active for six months from date of submission and nominators may submit additional documentation to support a nominee during the active six months.

The criteria used to nominate an employee include the following:

  • An outstanding accomplishment that benefited the department/students.
  • Extraordinary service to internal and/or external customers.
  • Inspiring initiative/leadership.
  • Enthusiasm/energy given to assigned work.
  • Teamwork.
  • Exemplary efforts to nurture a climate of care, concern and civility.
  • Creative innovations to service, process or work tools.

For more information contact Tony Belk at jbelk@odu.edu or 683-3046, or go to http://www.odu.edu/ao/humanresources/employeeofthemonth.shtml.

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