Mason’s Employee of the Month program celebrates 30th anniversary

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Photos courtesy of George Mason University Libraries, Special Collections Research Center

George Mason University’s Employee of the Month program is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month of highlighting the achievements of Mason’s staff. The program has recognized the hard work of 360 Mason employees since its inception, according to Beth A. Baroody, the faculty and staff engagement consultant in Human Resources.

“It’s a great program because it takes time out to recognize employees who are doing such good work, and it gives them a chance to shine,” said Baroody. “It’s an honor to be singled out and have an entire month dedicated to you because you are so awesome at what you do.”

The employee recognition program will be honoring its recipients from the past three decades who still work at Mason in a private virtual event on Tuesday, March 16. The event will include a trivia game related to the employees who have been honored over the years. President Gregory Washington will attend the event.

“It’s ironic that we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Mason’s Employee of the Month program following such a challenging year,” said Lester L. Arnold Sr., vice president for Human Resources and Payroll. “Our employees have proven to be resilient, flexible, and agile. It is so exciting to celebrate three decades of recognizing the contributions of our very talented and committed team members who have consistently displayed the values of the university.”

The Employee of the Month program began in March 1991 as a way to recognize the contributions of Mason staff. To receive the honor, an employee must first be nominated, with written approval by the employee’s supervisor and the department head of the unit in which the employee works. Three or more support letters typically accompany each nomination. A selection committee reviews the nominations and selects each month’s recipients.

Each nominee receives a framed receives a framed certificate, 10 parking passes, gift certificates and Mason swag. In addition, a celebration is held in honor of the recipient, with family, friends and the university president in attendance.

The program has continued even during the coronavirus pandemic. Stephanie Kuhta, division and communication coordinator in the College of Education and Human Development’s School of Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Management, received the honor during the initial stages of the coronavirus shutdown.

Kuhta’s ceremony was the first to be held virtually. Then Acting President Anne Holton created a posterboard award to present during the virtual celebration because she didn’t have the actual certificate in hand.

“It definitely made me laugh—there wasn’t much to laugh about through those times,” said Kuhta. “It was really nice for her to think of that. It was a nice touch.”

In the early years of the program, recipients also a special parking spot for the month. David C. Atkins, executive director of Mason’s licensing, marketing and administration, who was honored in 1991, remembers how good it felt when he heard he was selected.

“It elevated my pride in my work,” said Atkins, a 1990 Mason graduate and the earliest recipient still working at Mason. “It’s a good way to motivate people.”