Susan Eckis, office manager for the School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services, says she is not a very important person. But with a list of responsibilities that would make the average person’s head spin, including assisting the school’s director, booking travel for faculty and students, purchasing and budgeting, and coordinating office events, it is clear that her work and passion for all is invaluable.
Eckis was nominated by Carol Q. Urban, director of the School of Nursing, who said Eckis goes “above and beyond” for both students and faculty members and has a warm and caring attitude that is appreciated by all.
Several of Eckis’ colleagues echoed Urban’s feelings. Professor Kathleen Gaffney said Eckis is so dedicated to her work that asking her to take a lunch break when she is on a pending deadline is a “non-starter.”
A self-described “communication hub,” Eckis is the main person students and faculty members in the school turn to for information. Associate Professor R. Kevin Mallinson said that, as the first person a newcomer to the School of Nursing meets, Eckis is always prepared to provide a warm welcome and helpful advice.
“As a faculty member, I would be lost without Susan’s wealth of knowledge,” Mallinson said. “She is an effective problem-solver, helping us to consider options that meet the needs of students and faculty.”
But behind all the paperwork and assistance with critical office technology, it is Eckis’ relationship with the nursing students that clearly shines through. As a former nurse herself, she said caring for people is second nature.
“My joy is making their life easier, and I understand a bit of what they have to do,” she said. “Even though things change on treatments and education and equipment, the principles are still similar.”
Whether she’s helping a student with directions or throwing an office baby shower for one of the graduate research assistant’s wives, Eckis said investing time in students is one of the most valuable things a university can do.
But even beyond the School of Nursing, it is clear that Eckis has a passion for George Mason University as a diverse, growing university.
“I can see out the window [of my office] … and when you pull back the blinds and just look over the campus you see all those faces that bring such enrichment to us as a group. We’re very multicultural and…it’s a neat thing to see,” Eckis said.
Eckis will be formally presented with this award by President Ángel Cabrera at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, in his office on the fifth floor of Merten Hall. Her family, co-workers and friends are all encouraged to attend the ceremony. Those unable to attend may watch the Facebook livestream at www.facebook.com/workingatmason.