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Previous Employee of the Year Winners

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  • Previous Recipients

    • Dr. Andrea Hilkovitz, Research Coordinator, The Graduate College, was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2020.


      Since 2016, Andrea has continuously expanded and improved services for the Graduate College.

      She created an extensive website with information regarding the graduate education funding landscape, the proposal writing process, and the description of services. She held the first workshops on external funding opportunities, helped students submit applications, and developed an appointment booking process as well as communications about these services in a weekly newsletter. She created all this in record time and with very little direction and supervision.


      Andrea has phenomenal organizational skills which have allowed her to single-handedly and without little supervision create an external fellowship office within the graduate college. She has a deep and unwavering commitment to supporting students, often going far beyond the call of duty in helping submit external funding applications. And she has had tremendous impact on the funding students have received. This in turn has positively impacted the recruiting and retention efforts of outstanding students and has increased the reputation of Texas State with external funders.


      The success and the impact of Andrea’s work is considerable. Last year alone, her efforts in helping students prepare grant and external scholarship applications have resulted in students being awarded over $650,000; in the three years that she has offered her support, the total award amount was $1.5 million in June and is now approaching $2 million. Andrea’s tireless efforts have nearly doubled the funding available to graduate students.


      Andrea establishes connections with agencies funding graduate study and graduate student research and participates in professional development opportunities in the area of funding systems both internal and external (federal, state, contracts, grants).


      Andrea has been instrumental in encouraging research coordinators on campus to collaborate in order to improve services on campus. She has been similarly active in the National Association of Fellowship Advisors, an organization which has traditionally served fellowship advisors working with undergraduate students.

      With her professionalism and warm hospitality with which she greets visitors, Andrea is also simultaneously putting Texas State graduate students on the radar of the most prestigious schools and furthering the reputation of Texas State at the national level.


      Congratulations, Andrea on your dedication and hard work, and being recognized as the Texas State 2020 Employee of the Year!

    • Danielle McEwen, Administrative Assistant III, Department of Psychology was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2018-2019.


      Danielle was chosen from 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 2,500 staff employees at Texas State. McEwen’s honor was announced Monday, August 12, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. As stated by President Trauth, “The 2019 Employee of the Year was nominated for this award by more than 40 faculty and staff.” “She is known to be incredibly dedicated, efficient, and positive.” “She goes out of her way to welcome new faculty, staff and student workers—with what her colleagues have noticed is an uncanny memory and attention to detail.”


      In this role as Administrative Assistant III in Psychology, Danielle supports the needs of nearly 2000 Psychology majors and over 35 full-time faculty members. This job is huge in scope and unrelenting in pace, but Danielle carefully manages all the duties with calm and a wonderful sense of humor and generosity.


      Danielle carefully attends to the needs of every student and member of the department. Faculty, staff and students inside and outside the office tend to gravitate to Danielle. She is the go-to person for anything and everything in the department, and it is not unusual for administrative assistants in other departments to seek out her help and advice.


      Some of Danielle’s current duties include monitoring, forecasting and allocating the department's operating and research budget, preparing financial reports, processing reimbursements, vendor payments, purchase orders, invoices, and contracted payments, purchasing and maintain office supplies and promotional items, processing Personnel Change Requests and maintaining employee files for all current and former faculty, staff, and student employees. She prepares all faculty contracts, tenure track documents and handles travel arrangements for faculty, students and external visitors. She coordinates department meetings, events, catering, and related logistics as well as managing various faculty special projects and facilitates guest visits.


      Danielle recently has done the work of two staff members, and in one case three staff members, due to vacancies in other staff positions. These extra duties have lasted weeks and even months in some cases. Danielle has done all of this with a smile while working nights or weekends to meet pressing deadlines even when they are not her responsibility. She always has gone out of her way to welcome new faculty, staff, and student workers and be sure that all of their business needs are met. Danielle always "has a plan" for how to accomplish a goal and works hard to achieve it.


      Danielle’s professionalism, dedication, highly personable management style and sensitivity to the needs of all faculty, staff and students are what make her special. Her interpersonal talents complement regular duties. She is an exemplary representative for the department and university.

      Congratulations, Danielle! Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to Texas State.

    • Dr. Jennifer (Jen) Beck, Director, Retention Management and Planning was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2017-2018.


      Jen was chosen from 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 2,100 staff employees at Texas State. Beck’s honor was announced Monday, August 13, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. As stated by President Trauth, “The 2018 Employee of the Year was nominated unequivocally by the entire staff in Retention Management and Planning.” “As Director of Retention Management and Planning, she is consistently searching for ways to support students that could benefit from some additional assistance.”


      Jen is the epitome of what an exceptional employee is and should be. Being that the office’s primary goal is to assist with student retention. A good example of this is that she had the vision to pilot a session during New Student Orientation that is geared toward first-year commuter students. In order to improve the retention rate for this population, she felt that it was important that the students and their families felt like they were a part of the Bobcat Family from the very beginning even though the students do not live on campus. Through her tireless efforts and leadership, the office was able to implement numerous programs such as the Brilliant Bobcats Academic Success Series, Bobcat Bond Mentoring Program, Parent & Family Relations, Students Who Are Parents, PAWS Alert, Peer Leader Program, Welcome Tents and Student Appreciation Programs. These programs mentioned would not be as successful without her support and guidance.

      If you were to consider the qualities that make up a good leader: honesty, integrity, dedication, commitment, positive attitude, empowering; these are words that describe Jen. Her trust in her staff allows them room to learn, to grow, and through this model, the staff are able to expand their knowledge, skill set and professional development. Jen is not only a good leader but she is a servant leader first. She always puts the interest of others first especially students.

      Another quality she possesses is her ability to mentor students and staff alike. Several staff members are first time supervisors. Jen is willing to sit down and talk through issues with them on how to get the most out of staff while still supporting their needs and the needs of the office.

      Jen has tremendous ability to build partnerships and foster relationships, not just within the division but across the university. She serves on numerous divisional and university-wide committees such as the Student Affairs Council, Enrollment Management, Orientation Planning Committee, Retention Council, Admission Standards Committee, Professional Development Advisory Council, and Financial Literacy Committee. She is sought out because of her dedication and willingness to be a team player.

      Jen’s decision making is led by her primary focus on the students and what is best for them. She devotes a great deal of her time working to identify students that can be served better through retention efforts. With this in mind, she has used data to lead the way in identifying these subpopulations to serve. From former foster care youth to students who are parents to women in the sciences, Jen seeks out opportunities to engage students and provide resources and support to guide them to their path of success. She has worked to create and expand the Parent and Family Relations program continuing to grow and improve the events and services to parent and family members of Texas State students.


      Jen is truly a good ambassador for the university and deserves to be recognized for her hard word, dedication, and commitment to Texas State and beyond.


      Congratulations, Jen! Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to Texas State.


    • Michelle Aguilar, Senior Administrative Assistant, Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion (SDI) was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2016-2017.


      Michelle was chosen from 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 2,100 staff employees at Texas State. Aguilar’s honor was announced Tuesday, August 8, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. As stated by President Trauth, “The 2017 Employee of the Year has maintained a high level of commitment, professionalism, and knowledge in her duties in the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion.”


      Michelle has worked at Texas State for 20 years as an Administrative Assistant and Senior Administrative Assistant for the Department of Housing and Residence Life.

      Michelle strives for excellence in all that she does. She is competent in all of her job duties and is the go-to person for everyone on our staff. She oversees 5 other administrative assistants and is the time administrator for our office. Although these responsibilities may be common for her title as Senior Administrative Assistant, what makes her uncommon is her commitment to serving students at Texas State by providing a solid foundation for the staff of SDI.

      A solid foundation is what is needed in an office that produces innovative and ground breaking programs and services that support underrepresented students and marginalized students. Some of these programs include Equality University (a conference-like experience where students, faculty and staff, and community members can explore topics such as racism, cultural and racial identity and sexual orientation), Mama’s Kitchen (a program that provides a free meal for over 400 Texas State students), Bobcat Preview Diversity Presentation (an interactive program that provides incoming freshmen with an experience that relays the message that Texas State embraces diversity). Other programs include ALLIES of Texas State and programing that supports the LGBTQ community. In addition, SDI also implements Veteran student programs that support Texas State military veterans.

      Michelle ensures that all systems are go, paperwork is submitted, contracts are signed, food is ordered, human resources paper work is turned in on time and all loose ends are tied. In essence all of her efforts make the SDI office successful and competent to carry out its mission and the mission of the university namely ensuring that we have a diverse campus that is welcoming to all. Michelle is a major backbone to that goal. She works long hours to ensure Texas State students have the best experience possible.

      Michelle is dedicated to Texas State’s mission of providing excellence in serving the educational needs of the diverse population of Texas and the world beyond. Michelle’s primary function is to support the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs who also serves as the Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion. This multifaceted role for Michelle is very complex. She not only provides support for the Director, but also provides guidance and leadership to the other 5 administrative support staff members under the umbrella of SDI including Student Support Services, Educational Talent Search, Rural Talent Search and Upward Bound Senior Grant Secretaries. Michelle is a mentor and role model to all of these staff members.

      Every office should have someone you can rely on to accomplish tasks, step in at the last minute when someone is sick or had a family emergency. All offices need someone who anchors the rest of the team so that they do not unravel under pressure or get so for from their mission and goals that they lose sight of their desired outcome. Michelle is that person in the office of Student Diversity and Inclusion.


      Congratulations, Michelle! Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to Texas State.


    • Melissa Hyatt, Associate Registrar, Office of the University Registrar was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2015-2016.


      Melissa was chosen from 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 2,350 staff employees at Texas State. Hyatt’s honor was announced Tuesday, August 9, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. As stated by President Trauth, “The 2016 Employee of the Year has maintained a high level of commitment, professionalism, and knowledge in her duties in the Office of the University Registrar.”


      Melissa supervises the University’s Veterans Affairs department, a very important area that under her guidance has become one of the very few schools to go paperless. Melissa spearheaded this initiative, leading both on the necessary business process changes and the request and implementation of automated systems to support them. Registration and Grading also falls under her area of responsibility – another very busy area. Melissa is always alert for opportunities to improve and to streamline the work of her areas. Melissa also manages the Registrar’s office IT team, and their document imaging efforts. This is another area of very high activity – both in volume of documents processed. In addition, she also manages the groups responsible for NCAA certification where she is driving the transition to a new software application that is expected to greatly reduce the groups workload, and improve the accuracy of NCAA-related data, and the degree audit application where she has overseen multiple upgrades, and has worked with advisors and University College, as well as IT, to champion adoption of new tools.


      Melissa oversaw the implementation of the Bobcat Scheduler application, which has provided a far better registration experience for students; feedback from students was extremely positive. She also founded the Veterans Advisory Council when she recognized the need for a more collaborative effort to ensure the best possible service is provided to our veterans. The Council has been recognized by external groups and the State Auditors chose to use Texas State to create a benchmark. Melissa is contacted by other schools looking for advice on setting up their own equivalent. Melissa also founded and continues to chair the inter-departmental Security Team meetings; she has made use of this group to implement many enhancements to the process of requesting access to our enterprise applications. It’s important to note that despite her very heavy workload, long hours, and frequent contact with sometimes difficult members of the public, Melissa invariably remains cheerful and helpful, intent on providing the best possible service.


      In addition to her already heavy responsibilities, Melissa has volunteered to serve on two additional committees. The first is the Student Information System Coordinating Council, which serves as the official information-disseminating and decision-making forum for matters related to our Student Information System environment. Melissa is a vital member of this group, both because of her wide knowledge of University business both in and outside her area of responsibility, and because of her ability and determination to look at the big picture and ensure that all aspects are taken into account. The other group is the new Data Governance Council, which has recently been created by UPPS as a Presidential Council tasked with ensuring the integrity of the University’s data. Melissa is a founding permanent member of the Council, and was involved in the drafting of the UPPS. Melissa is also heavily involved with her peers at other schools, and a regular presenter at professional conferences such as TACRAO, SACRAO and Texas Connection Consortium (TCC). She is widely known and respected within the Higher Education community.


      Congratulations, Melissa! Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to Texas State.

    • Steven Herrera, Shuttle Service Manager, Transportation Services was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2014-2015.


      Steve was chosen from 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 2,050 staff employees at Texas State. Herrera’s honor was announced Monday, August 10, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth. As stated by President Trauth, “The 2015 Employee of the Year has maintained a high level of commitment, professionalism, and knowledge in his duties in the Department of Transportation Services.”


      As the Manager, Shuttle Service, Steve Herrera has directed and overseen a successful transition to a new bus fleet, new transit provider, and a new real-time GPS based bus tracking system. In addition to the many shuttle related responsibilities, Steve organizes and oversees additional transportation plans for university special events. He coordinates vehicle procurement and preparation, driver acquisition, maps and routing, and schedules to ensure that the event transportation is flawless. He also acts as a liaison between Texas State University and the City of San Marcos with his work on the San Marcos Transit Advisory committee.


      Steve is a great asset to the Transportation Services department and the university as a whole. He brings to his job a high degree of professionalism, commitment, flexibility, and knowledge. Time and again, he has gone above and beyond to ensure that an event has the best possible transportation services. His commitment to being at every event, every football game, every commencement ceremony until the last transit vehicle has left, guarantees that any university transit need will be addressed with the utmost quality. He has successfully coordinated executive level transportation for multiple Texas State University System Board of Regents events, both in San Marcos and Austin, including transportation to and from private airplanes. He trains and supervises Texas State University Airforce ROTC cadets as executive fleet drivers each semester. His attention to every detail and willingness to work and problem solve until no aspect is less than the best it could be, is a great asset to both the university and the university system. His outstanding work on the Comal Building dedication ceremony allowed alumni, who went to school on the university’s campus during the 1940s and 1950s, to return for the dedication by providing transportation that negotiated the Bobcat Trail Redevelopment construction. His development and execution of the transportation plan for the Presidential Seminar in Flowers Hall is an excellent example of Steve’s willingness to go above and beyond in providing the best service possible. Where many others would have simply accepted that it would not be possible to provide transportation to the Cabinet, deans, faculty, staff, and guests, through closed streets and a construction zone, Steve coordinated with facilities, construction companies and contractors to provide safe and comfortable transportation to these events. Steve Herrera has been and continues to be extremely critical to the success of accommodating the many diverse transportation needs of the TSUS Regents, university, alumni, and the student body.


      Steve exemplifies the kind of employee that makes Texas State University a great place for students, faculty, and staff. His commitment to excellence makes transportation a successful and vital part of the Bobcat experience.


      Congratulations, Steve! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to Texas State.


    • Joseph Meyer, Director, Institutional Research was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2013-2014.


      Joe was chosen from the 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 2,000 staff employees at Texas State.  Meyer’s honor was announced Wednesday, August 13, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth.


      Virtually all offices at Texas State University are familiar with Joe Meyer and his stellar work leading the Office of Institutional Research. As more decisions within the university require the use of data, and as more agencies and governing bodies outside the institution expect reports substantiated with data, the demands on Institutional Research have grown immensely over the years. Joe manages the process of verifying, extracting, and analyzing data and building reports with precision, ease, and grace.


      Joe Meyer chaired the 2013-2104 Common Experience titled “Minds Matter: Exploring Mental Health and Illness.” Chairing a Common Experience requires continuous effort and dedication over a time frame of approximately two and a half years. During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Joe led the proposal process by justifying, drafting, and garnering support for the proposal. Once the proposal was selected, Joe led efforts to select the common reading, identify and contact potential speakers, organize a host of internal presentations, chair the selection of the mini-grants for related events, and seek funding and support from outside sources during the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Now in 2013-2014, Joe has continued soliciting events, organizing scheduled events, and delivering the Common Experience programming. He has hosted numerous events and has been a constant champion of the Common Experience theme. What’s unique about Joe’s involvement in the Common Experience is twofold. One is that Joe is the first staff director to serve as the lead of the Common Experience program, a role usually undertaken by faculty members. To put the kind of energy into inspiring faculty and student involvement in the Common Experience agenda is challenging for a member of the faculty, and more so for a staff member. Further, this accomplishment, as outstanding as it is, will be rewarded with no real recognition in his role as the Director of Institutional Research. Two is that because Joe is a staff member, he is required to fulfill his responsibilities to his office as his primary obligation while his involvement as the Common Experience Chair must be a secondary function. Consequently, his role in the Common Experience has been woven around his primary work responsibilities, and much of the time he has spent on Common Experience has been conducted outside his regular work hours. Needless to say, Joe has gone well beyond the call of duty for a very noble cause.


      Congratulations, Joe!  Thank you for your hard work and dedication to Texas State.

    • Elizabeth (Liz) McDonald, Events and Publications Coordinator, College of Fine Arts and Communication was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2012-2013.


      Elizabeth was chosen from the 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 1,900 staff employees at Texas State.  McDonald’s honor was announced Tuesday, August 6, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth.


      Liz started her position in the Dean’s Office as an Administrative Assistant II in 1999.  She has always been willing to evolve with the changing needs of the College and is now responsible for coordinating publicity for all five academic units in the College of Fine Arts and Communication and Supple Folk Series, and the Friends of Fine Arts and Communication organization.  Some of her accomplishments this year include: e-commerce for on-line friends membership, dinner and Theatre reservations/payment and travel reservation/payment; concept and implementation of friends homepage; layout and design of special invitations/donor appreciation/holiday/Performing Arts Center document and new Performing Arts Center construction web page.


      Liz is one of the quiet warriors who goes far beyond what is asked of her, simply because it is part of her nature to strive for excellence.  She spends long hours, above and beyond what anyone expects in order to ensure that her work represents the highest standards; and by doing so, the college stands out for its exceptional marketing materials.  Her event coordination and planning skills are excellent.  She is organized, creative, and dedicated to promoting the College of Fine Arts and Communication, as well as Texas State University.  Liz has a wonderful sense of humor and an infectiously happy attitude.  She is a true inspiration who shows all of us what it means to be the best at what we do.


      Congratulations, Liz!  Thank you for your hard work and dedication to Texas State.

    • Robert “Marcus” Hendry, Facility Coordinator, Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP), was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2011-2012.


      Marcus was chosen from the 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 1,500 staff employees at Texas State.  Hendry’s honor was announced Tuesday, August 14, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth.


      Marcus began his journey at Texas State in January 2003. He is responsible for coordination of Jowers facility use between the department of HHP, Athletics, Campus Recreation, other departments on campus, and the general public.  He works very closely with the facility team to guarantee proper use of the facility and evaluate the facility for repair or replacements.  In addition to managing the facility, he organizes and tracks departmental building keys; develops security plans, investigates reported security infractions and problems, and develops emergency plans and posts for all gyms.


      Marcus has a superior work ethic, the uncanny ability to work with all type of personalities, and is always willing to assist faculty, staff, and students. He is a professional, honest, and has a vast knowledge of not only the Department of Health and Human Performance, but of the University policies and procedures. Other employees and administrators have the utmost respect for Marcus and appreciate his professionalism, honesty, integrity, proactivity, excellent organizational skills and his great sense of humor.  Marcus exemplifies every positive quality Texas State University wants for their employees.


      Congratulations, Marcus!  Thank you for your hard work and dedication to Texas State.

    • Martin Zavala, Administrative Assistant II, Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP), was selected as the Texas State Employee of the Year for 2010-2011.


      Martin was chosen from the 12 employees of the month, who represent more than 1,500 staff employees at Texas State.  Zavala’s honor was announced Thursday, August 11, by Texas State President Denise M. Trauth.


      Martin began at Texas State in September 1991 as a student worker for the College of Education’s Teacher Certification Office; in September 1993 he was a student worker for Health, Physical Education and Recreation’s PE Laundry Department; in August 1904 he joined HHP as a temporary administrative assistant; and in August 2005 he was hired to this position permanently.  


      Martin is responsible for the HHP’s schedule of classes, working closely with program coordinators and department chair to submit the schedule by the required deadlines.  He is also responsible for monitoring and inputting all reservations (including classes).  Martin also works to assure that students get into their respective classes by completing closed class forms, and/or processing override approval with coordinators, and overall assistance completing administrative course changes.  Martin took the initiative to restore the use of a numbering system for the course evaluations in the Physical Fitness and Wellness Program, which at one time had become a real problem for the Testing Center.  


      Martin’s skills, knowledge, performance, and positive attitude have made him indispensible to faculty, staff and students in the department of Health and Human Performance and to the Texas State campus and community.  Martin’s professional and friendly demeanor truly represents the very best at Texas State.


      Congratulations, Martin!  Thank you for your hard work and dedication to Texas State.