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Academic Enhancement’s Lanah Stafford Is Customer Relations Employee of the Year

Lanah Stafford, administrative resource analyst for the Office of Academic Enhancement in Old Dominion University's Student Success Center, was honored Tuesday, Dec. 10, as the university's Customer Relations Employee of the Year.

The award was presented at the annual Service Awards Luncheon, sponsored by the Department of Human Resources. Stafford received an engraved plaque, $500 in cash and three days of recognition leave.

Stafford, who joined the academic enhancement office as an hourly employee in January 2011 and became classified in her current position in November of that year, was a popular choice for the recognition, as evidenced by letters of support from students she supervises and colleagues.

In her position, Stafford hires, trains and supervises nearly a dozen student assistants at the Student Success Center Help Desk. From the comments made by many of them, it is clear that in the course of doing her job, she is also serving as a role model for these students who will one day have their own post-graduation jobs.

Ryan Willard, a student who has worked for Stafford for three years, nominated her for the Employee of the Year award.

"Lanah Stafford demonstrates all of the university's service standards and then more. She treats everyone with respect and always listens to what people have to say," Willard said.

Whether it's her interactions with her student workers, students visiting the center, co-workers or concerned parents, Stafford maintains the same even keel in her interactions, and her desire to help is always evident, according to Willard.

"When she is at the desk, she will always greet a student and ask how she can help. She makes her presence known in the building and ... is always available to help if anyone ever needs it. This just shows how dedicated she is to her job and the university. No matter how long it takes to help someone or listen, she is always willing," Willard said.

Jordan Jacomo, another student assistant, noted: "Working at the front desk of the Student Success Center, Lanah has always pushed the student workers to greet and speak to everyone that comes across the desk. She encourages us to speak to every person with the same amount of respect, and to never let someone leave the desk without being pointed in the correct direction."

As reflected in these and other letters of support for her nomination, Stafford's ability to successfully train and supervise student workers is matched only by her interest in their welfare.

"Lanah is the most dedicated and genuine person in this entire building," said Veronica Callahan. "I have never seen a person so involved and interested in the well-being of others around her. I am a student worker in this building and she is constantly promoting me to excel in my studies. She is always asking how I did on my last test and was even willing to sit down and help me with a Spanish assignment.

"I have never had a boss so concerned about my life. Lanah is also always willing to collaborate with the student workers on new ideas that can be used around the building. It makes me more excited to come to work knowing that she actually listens to me and cares about what we have to say. Never does she do anything with less than 100 percent effort."

That level of concern and effort, likewise, has not gone unnoticed by Stafford's colleagues.

"I have worked with Lanah for three years and she is the epitome of customer service to students, faculty, staff and guests on campus," said Jill Fox, executive secretary for the Honors College. "She is consistently professional to everyone that she interacts with and shows everyone the same amount of respect. She is friendly and always striving to meet the needs of those she works with or comes in contact with. On a daily basis, Lanah will go out of her way to help anyone that requires it. She is the go-to person in her department and is very knowledgeable of where to find solutions or who to ask in order to resolve issues."

Marissa Jimenez, instructional resource specialist for the Office of Academic Enhancement, wrote to say that she "wholeheartedly" supported Stafford's nomination.

"We, as faculty in the Student Success Center, have come to rely on the desk and the students there for a number of things - receiving visitors, referring students, answering questions, assisting with projects and much, much more," Jimenez said.

"If there is any reflection of the dedication and work ethic that Lanah has, it's in the students that she supervises at the desk. She, like them, is positive, committed and always willing to help. No matter how busy she becomes, she is always there to step in, solve problems and get a job done. She and her students work as a fantastic team, and with her leadership, there is no limit to what they can accomplish."

Other ODU employees nominated for the award were:

Dale Amos, Distance Learning

Evette Brooks, Educational Accessibility

Linda Lopez Caulkins, Virginia Beach Higher Education Center

Steve Daniel, Marketing and Communications

Marla Harvey, Biological Sciences

Michelle Henson, Student Engagement and Enrollment Services

Lisa Jeffress, Counseling Services

Jacqueline Lockhart, Facilities Management

Rufus McGowan, Mail Center

Frederick Rickard, Facilities Management

Stephanie Riggs, Intercultural Relations

Annette Schmidt, Facilities Management

Donna Sellers, Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Sheryl Spence, Communication Disorders and Special Education

Elizabeth Teller, College of Business and Public Administration

Patricia Thorner, Study Abroad

Joyce Thornton, Finance Office.

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