In 2017 The University of Tulsa adopted the TU Commitment as a recognition of the powerful role our faculty and staff play in the development of our students in an accepting environment as engaged members of the community, empowered individuals, and life-long devotees to self-discovery and intellectual curiosity.
To recognize staff contributions to the campus community, the Staff Advisory Council (SAC) has implemented award categories for individuals and teams.
The Commitment Cup is awarded to the team that best exemplifies the TU Commitment. Nominees are vetted by SAC with the winner chosen by the President from a list of selected finalists.
Submission Deadline Announcement of Winner
April 24, 2020 May 21, 2020 (Employee Appreciation Picnic)
Pillars of the Commitment
Pillars of the Commitment are awards granted on a quarterly basis to individual staff members.
- October 31, 2019
- January 23, 2020
- March 19, 2020
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Q1 Pillar of the Commitment Award Recipient
The Staff Advisory Council would like to recognize Marla Zumwalt as a Pillar of the TU Community!
Marla is the Department Assistant for the Electrical & Computer Engineering department in TU’s College of Engineering & Natural Sciences. She works hard to get student’s issues resolved and is a point of contact they are willing to go to for help. She consults with Dr. Kaveh Ashenayi, Department Chair, before recommending action, and has gathered information about other campus offices to ensure students are directed to the correct person or office.
She has also taken on the task of guiding students in Senior Design through TU’s purchasing process, which can be time-consuming. Students are exposed to something close to a real-world experience to help prepare them for jobs after graduation. As part of the course, students identify and purchase parts for their design project. Marla has worked hard to document and define the purchasing process for the students, including developing forms for approval to help the students through the purchasing process. Dr. Ashenayi notes, “Marla is not afraid of taking on new tasks. She will do her best to complete any task she is charged with.”
Here’s what some of the faculty from Electrical & Computer Engineering had to say about Marla:
- “Marla is wonderful. She constantly provides strong support for the faculty and students in the department. In addition, she cares for students, forms a close [bond] with the students, creates family environment for the students, and makes the students feel that the department is like home.”
- I have known Marla from day 1. I was an undergraduate, in the electronics lab, on the day Dr. Kane was giving her a tour of the department. From that day, Marla became part of our TU community and has been an important member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and TU as a whole, ever since. There is not a day where I don’t hear someone answer a question with the response, “Ask Marla”… she is the department assistant, department psychologist, department guide, but most importantly, the department mom. Having realized how important she is to our community and culture of our department, I have begun having Marla take part in my EE1001/EE1011 class every year. This gives her the opportunity to work with each of the freshmen and help them adjust to the new experiences at TU. I cannot express how important Marla is to our department. She is is always willing to step up and help, whether you need a signature from a professor, someone to talk with, or just a piece of candy to brighten your day.”
- “Marla is very much deserving of this award. She is always willing to help out whenever asked and she is willing to take on any assignment to see it through to successful completion. She has been a great asset to the department and the university community. Her rapport with students is remarkable. Just about every student in ECE knows Marla. She welcomes them in her office with a great smile whenever the students have a question or need information.”
Q2 Pillar of the Commitment Award Recipient
The Staff Advisory Council would like to recognize Devinder Singh as a Pillar of the TU Community!
“Where does one begin when writing a statement of support for Devinder Singh? One story cannot sum up all the good she has done and inspired across TU’s campus. It is not possible to recount her countless acts of service, seen and unseen, for TU’s international student community…”
Devinder Singh is the Clinical Instructor/Student Liaison for international students in the English Institute. She has been with TU for 28 years. As a former international student from India, she came to the U.S. in 1984 to attend university. The experience has given her a personal perspective and empathetic understanding of what international students experience when they come to the U.S. to study. The staff in TU’s Center for Global Education have witnessed her patience when working to bridge the language and cultural barriers that exist for international students. Devinder has been a tireless and fierce advocate for students, while respecting the department’s structure and administrative process.
Selection of quotes:
“Devinder has worked tirelessly for many years to help students improve their language acquisition skills in the EIIS so that they may matriculate to academic programs.” Additionally, “she provides many opportunities for students to grow socially and culturally. She is often seen at student events in the evenings, encouraging students to participate with peers from other countries.”
“While she will realistically acknowledge challenges, she ALWAYS focuses on how to solve problems and put everything TU in the best light possible.”
“Devinder has been a positive role model for our English Institute and beyond. She has gone above and beyond for the students over her many years at TU. She encourages them to make the most of their time at TU and in the U.S.. She is an example of positivity and inclusiveness for all!”
“She is always thinking of the students and how to better serve them. She is always friendly, and you will never see her at an event with students without her camera. She loves to capture moments!”
“She demonstrates the ability to add value to everything that she does with dedication, creativity and resourcefulness… Her contributions to the team reflect her priorities as an individual and the importance she places on doing a good job.”
“Devinder is a caring, compassionate, and authentically delightful person. She is a joy to be around and everyone feels like a better person after spending time with her. In today’s climate, it is more important than ever to follow her example of the universal principles of civility, compassion and decency toward individuals – international and domestic alike.”
“Devinder loves her work and ensuring international students are successful and are a part of our TU community.”
Q3 Pillar of the Commitment Award Recipient
The Staff Advisory Council would like to recognize Justin Kendrick as a Pillar of the TU Community!
Justin’s work as an Instrumentation Technician in the College of Engineering & Natural Sciences involves maintaining aging lab equipment so faculty and students can continue their research and coursework projects. He’s known for the ability to “fix just about anything” as well as his enthusiastic and friendly can-do attitude. Faculty and staff all know that he’s a problem solver who understands the time-sensitive nature of their work and how it can quickly be derailed when a piece of equipment breaks down. They trust him and know he can fix it! Justin’s commitment to the active engagement of our faculty and staff means he does whatever’s necessary to get them up and running as soon as possible.
Selection of faculty/staff/student quotes:
Justin agreed to be present during a lab in case the students needed help! He did this with a smile on his face and even engaged in light-hearted banter with the students while helping them.
Given the complexity of some tasks, some are clearly outside of any reasonable expectation for one of our technicians. Instead, Justin went well beyond what anyone could expect to solve the problem. He is simply invaluable!
Justin has always been there during my time of need.
His skills go way beyond electronics. He also knows how to design and set up computers so that they can “talk” to each other. And, he does a lot to repair mechanical, vacuum and systems. He works with us cheerfully and thoughtfully.
His ability matches his can-do attitude and Justin works well with our faculty, other technicians and students. He maintains numerous instruments and various equipment throughout all the ENS buildings & laboratories, and North Campus. He keeps labs running smoothly for faculty and students, which is important for research and teaching purposes. Justin is a team player and is committed to his job here at TU. He is invaluable to the college!
The Staff Advisory Council would like to recognize Gina Rubio-White as a Pillar of the TU Community!
As Department Assistant to the School of Languages and Literature, Gina performs above and beyond the “scope of duty” daily, including this past year. She provides prompt and steadfast support to 18 full- and part-time faculty and to sometimes more than 500 students a semester who are enrolled in courses in 6 foreign languages. Despite an objectively high administrative workload, Gina finds the time and energy for a caring, engaged approach to each student, faculty, and staff person with whom she interacts.
Selection of faculty/staff/student quotes:
Gina is one of the kindest people I know. She has always been a supportive and caring coworker as a fellow admin assistant. I have seen her help others with various issues – from carrying items for someone in need, to giving advice on work-related concerns – she is always smiling and ready to help!
On one particular occasion, I was waiting for my professor and we got on a conversation about how I am studying Spanish but that my ability to reading and understand quickly was still very lacking. She invited me into her office and showed me this site called LinQ and talked about how it was really helping her to learn different languages and said that it might help me and it really has! Another time, my professor told her that I needed to practice my conversational Spanish and ms. Rubio-white started having conversations with me in Spanish to help me practice. Every time I see this lady, she has a smile on her face and makes me feel better just by talking to her. She is ready, willing, and able to help students and has made an extremely positive impact on my life even when I’m struggling with scheduling!
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Gina since my very first semester on campus. While starting up at TU was a big transition for me, Gina is such a kind and welcoming person that she made me feel ready to succeed from day one. When I left for a semester abroad, not only did Gina pass down preparatory books for German university that she had gotten for herself, but she continued to email me and check up on me during my time in a foreign country. I have never met someone who genuinely cares for all the people around her as much as Gina does.
Gina Rubio makes my life easier every day that I teach at TU! She is an extremely intelligent and efficient individual that is always ready to help everyone in any way she can. Many of my students have told me countless stories about how Gina has helped them feel comfortable and happy at TU even on their most difficult days. She is a wonderful, caring and competent person. We are very lucky to have her at TU!
Quarterly pillar awards are granted to individuals throughout the year, but SAC also wanted to highlight those nominees that particularly represented certain elements of the TU Commitment. These yearly winners were chosen from those nominated throughout the year as quarterly nominees and were recognized at the Employee Appreciation Week Picnic!
Acceptance: Sheila Givens-Rains
Fostering an atmosphere of acceptance requires a holistic approach, where someone is made to feel safe, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As Director of Student Retention, Sheila’s institutional knowledge has proven particularly indispensable this past year during the development of the Student Success Initiative, but the true scope of Sheila’s impact on our campus community is often a story of compassion and acceptance. There is little doubt that Sheila embodies the pillar of acceptance in her dealings not only with students, but staff and faculty as well. Examples of her support and acceptance of difficult situations include everything from helping grieving families to finding foster homes for stray animals. Whether you are student, faculty or staff, Sheila is a cornerstone of the campus community that accepts us all for who we are and will lend a hand wherever she can.
Self-Discovery: Lindsey Perry
In her role as Enrollment Management Coordinator and Retention Specialist for Oxley College of Health Sciences, Lindsey always makes time to help students chart a path of self-discovery to reach their enrollment and academic goals. But her contributions are not limited to the students. She has diligently sought to improve student interactions, the staff voice, and the collaboration between faculty, staff, and administration with a strong focus on efficiency, satisfaction, and success. Her input, participation and initiative has been instrumental in such groups as University Council, Drop Guard Transition Team, Gardner Institute Initiative, Provost’s Student Development and Success Group, Student Success Initiative and the Collegiate Advisory Council. Lindsey is not only dedicated to helping our students cultivate their intellectual curiosity and inquisitiveness, she’s crucial to the University finding its way through this time of significant changes and introspection.
Engagement: Justin Kendrick
Engagement requires active participation to develop unique gifts and talents. This can be difficult if the tools or equipment necessary for active engagement in various projects is not available or functioning. Justin’s work as an Instrumentation Technician in the College of Engineering & Natural Sciences involves maintaining aging lab equipment so faculty and students can continue their research and coursework projects. He’s known for the ability to “fix just about anything” as well as his enthusiastic and friendly can-do attitude. Faculty and staff all know that he’s a problem solver who understands the time-sensitive nature of their work and how it can quickly be derailed when a piece of equipment breaks down. They trust him and know he can fix it! Justin’s commitment to the active engagement of our faculty and staff means he does whatever’s necessary to get them up and running as soon as possible.
Empowerment: Joey Oneal
Empowerment is about helping others to grow and develop personally and professional. As Director of Student Activities, Joey leads by example and challenges student leaders to develop their own management and leadership styles. Students find in her a reliable coach and helpful conversational partner for personal and professional growth. She encourages and facilitates student leaders to create new collaborations with institutional funding policies, interfaith experiences, student training opportunities and campus experiences related to diversity and inclusion. The role of coaching and overseeing student leaders requires a constant commitment to self-evaluation, ongoing assessment, flexibility, and consistency of focus that might be difficult to maintain for many of us. But Joey does that in a way that empowers students to constantly strive to be not just better leaders, but better individuals. On her path to empowering our students, Joey doesn’t just lead, she inspires!
The second annual TU Commitment Cup was awarded to the Gardner Institute Transfer Team on May 23, 2019, by The University of Tulsa Present Gerard Clancy. The award is designed to spotlight outstanding work by university employees specifically related to the TU Commitment, which helps our students feel accepted, engaged, empowered, and set on a path to self-discovery. Each nomination received by the Staff Advisory Council described how departments, committees, and project teams come together to help others succeed. For a full story on the winning team and this year’s runner-up, click here.