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Princeton employees honored at Service Recognition Luncheon

The day paid tribute to 502 honorees who reached service milestones in 2023, along with six staff members who were named as President’s Achievement Award. Ron McCoy, University Architect received the President Achievement Award.

Thu Apr 11, 2024

On April 2, Jadwin Gym was filled with pride during the Service Recognition Luncheon, a cherished annual tradition that honors the service and accomplishments of Princeton employees. The day paid tribute to 502 honorees who reached service milestones in 2023, along with six staff members who were named as President's Achievement Award recipients and two employees who received the Donald Griffin ’23 Management Award.

“While this is only my second year being emcee of this event, I can tell you it is quickly becoming one of my favorites,” said Romy Riddick, vice president for Human Resources.

The Office of Human Resources annually honors employees who have attained service milestones beginning at 10 years of employment and continuing in succeeding five-year increments.

Riddick continued, “As Princeton staff members, your roles are vital to supporting the University’s teaching and research mission. You comprise an extremely hard-working, talented, and diverse group of employees who richly deserve to be recognized today for your many years of service and for your individual contributions that do so much to make this institution a truly great one.”

All employees will receive a certificate of recognition embossed with a special copper-engraved rendering of Nassau Hall by the late Michael Graves, the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture Emeritus and a renowned architect and designer, along with a commemorative pin for their specific years of service. Those with 55, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30 and 25 years of service also selected gifts from the special Princeton Service Recognition Program collection at Hamilton Jewelers.

2024 Celebrating Service at Princeton

Each year, the Office of Human Resources honors employees who have attained service milestones beginning at 10 years of employment and continuing in succeeding five-year increments. In this video shown at the luncheon April 2, employees who reached milestones during 2024 discuss their work at Princeton.

By the Numbers

  • 1 employee with 55 years of service
  • 1 employee with 50 years of service
  • 10 employees with 45 years of service
  • 17 employees with 40 years of service
  • 24 employees with 35 years of service
  • 26 employees with 30 years of service
  • 49 employees with 25 years of service
  • 74 employees with 20 years of service
  • 151 employees with 15 years of service
  • 149 employees with 10 years of service
  • Totaling 9,315 years of combined service to Princeton University.

For the full list of honorees and group photos, visit the Service Recognition Program page.

President’s Achievement Awards

Six Princeton staff members were honored as recipients of the President’s Achievement Award (PAA) for their commitment to excellence and exceptional performance. The award was established in 1997 to recognize members of the support and administrative staffs with five or more years of service whose dedication, excellent work and special efforts have contributed significantly to the success of their departments and the University as a whole.

Recipients receive a framed certificate and a $2,500 award, and their names are inscribed on a plaque displayed in the Office of Human Resources.

President Christopher L. Eisgruber gave the following remarks at the luncheon about each of the PAA winners.

Ron McCoy, Jess Ward, Traci Miller, Christopher Eisgruber, Anna Meerson, Kamara Blackman, and Damon Schunk

Kamara Blackman

“Kamara Blackman is a senior career specialist in the Office of Human Resources. As part of the Learning and Development team, Kamara focuses on helping staff advocate for themselves and achieve professional success through career coaching, experiential learning, and a wide range of skill development classes.

Kamara is a gifted instructor and facilitator, but she also works quietly and methodically behind the scenes, sometimes over the course of years, to further her clients’ goals. In the words of one, 'She was always available to review my updated resume, help me prepare for interviews, and celebrate my successes along the way.'

Kamara has championed the multifaceted needs of staff whose opportunities for professional development have been limited, in part because of scheduling constraints arising from the nature of their duties. At the heart of her portfolio are two programs, both focused on these front-line workers: Excelling at Princeton, which offers participants a toolbox of foundational skills during lulls in the academic year, and the Service Employees International Union Summer Transfer Program, which temporarily places staff in other positions at the University, broadening their knowledge and opening new doors.

In short, to quote SEIU local 175 President Jeff Coley, 'I can’t think of a better partner for promoting personal and professional growth than Kamara Blackman.'"

Ron McCoy

“Since 2008, University Architect Ron McCoy has shepherded our campus through one of the most ambitious periods of growth in Princeton’s history and has done so with vision, passion, and a deep commitment to furthering our strategic goals. He has profoundly influenced the way our University community lives, works, teaches, and learns, giving expression to its values at every stage of the rigorous process that leads from long-range planning to ribbon-cutting.

Ron epitomizes Princeton’s collaborative spirit, harmonizing the voices of multiple stakeholders and balancing a host of needs, considerations, and objectives. Whether planning for new construction or renovating existing structures, he has been steadfast in aligning the University’s physical spaces with the aspirations of their occupants, consistent with Princeton’s overarching educational mission. He has also advanced the University’s sustainability and accessibility objectives – no easy thing on a campus whose architectural landscape encompasses 268 years of design and construction practices.

Last but not least, Ron has been an eloquent advocate for supporting diverse and emerging architects, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships between them and well-established firms.

Vice President for Facilities Kyu Whang did not exaggerate when he wrote, ‘Ron McCoy is a true steward of our campus community. . . His impact on this campus will be felt by generations of Princetonians to come.’”

Anna Meerson

“Anna Meerson is a library collections specialist in the Princeton University Library’s Collections and Access Services Division. Her expertise and energy have made themselves felt well beyond her disciplinary focus –  Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian – but it is within this field that her impact has been greatest. Thanks to her tireless efforts, the library has been able to collect, organize, and make available an unprecedented number of documents and artifacts relating to a region of the world that, for tragic reasons, commands new interest. Indeed, on her own initiative, Anna is building a digital collection of wartime Ukrainian art.

In the words of her colleague, Thomas Keenan, the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Librarian, 'Anna is my true, essential partner in developing the SEEES collections, making them visible and intellectually productive, and helping researchers work with them.'

Anna takes every collection in stride, no matter how obscure, unwieldy, or voluminous, be it 106 rare Soviet sound recordings or more than 3,300 Russian and Eastern European posters. One of her most important contributions has been to develop robust systems for processing Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian ephemera, whose arrangement and description have long been challenging for libraries, and to train others in their use.

For Anna, no task is too big or too small, and, to echo her colleague, Keenan, ‘We are very, very lucky to have her.’”

Traci Miller

“Traci Miller is the undergraduate affairs administrator for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She plays a pivotal role in monitoring the academic standing, degree progress, and professional development of approximately 1,700 students.

Traci’s organizational skills and the generosity with which she puts them to good use are exceptional. As one alumna put it, ‘All engineering students have her to thank for helping keep the engineering school running. I don’t know how she manages all her responsibilities, but . . . she manages everything with a positive attitude and an incredible commitment.’

Her contributions are many. From developing a virtual admission tour to facilitating first-year undergraduate advising; from coordinating the annual Science and Technology Job Fair to mentoring undergraduate administrators in our six engineering departments, Traci is quick to help others. To quote Associate Dean of the College Cecily Swanson, ‘Let’s check with Traci’ is a regular refrain in our office, a testament to how much we rely on her administrative acumen and to the collaborative spirit she brings to our work.’

Traci’s effectiveness owes much to her deep understanding of University policies and practices, honed across a dozen years. She shares this knowledge every day, and both the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Princeton as a whole are better for it.”

Damon Schunk

“Damon Schunk, whose Princeton career spans 35 years, is a senior storekeeper in Campus Dining. With meticulous care and abundant creativity, he oversees a significant portion of the food that keeps our University community running. Whether he is closely inspecting orders on the loading dock of Mathey and Rockefeller Colleges, minimizing wastage through skillful inventory management, or educating students about the origins and nutritional value of specific products, he exercises hands-on leadership of the finest kind.

During major gatherings, not least Reunions, he is a pillar of strength, ensuring that participants are fed in a timely and orderly way. At the Pre-rade barbecue, for example, when more than 3,000 students are fed in an hour, his organizational skills have proven critical; indeed, on one occasion, he saved the day by taking it upon himself to thaw 625 pounds of chicken that would otherwise have been inedible.

But there is something else in Damon’s storeroom, which often reveals itself, when his work is done, around the piano in Rockefeller College. There, on a Reunions Saturday last year, writes his Campus Dining colleague Violette Chamoun, ‘Not only did he help feed the alumni that day, but he fed their spirits with his beautiful music and extraordinary singing voice.’ Who could ask for more?”

Jessica Ward

“Jess Ward is the senior associate director of athletics for campus recreation, a role she has embraced with gusto and exceptional effectiveness. On her watch, Dillon Gymnasium is undergoing a dramatic renovation – the most visible expression of her commitment to fostering the health and wellbeing of our University community.

For Jess, there is no status quo. She is continually evaluating Campus Recreation’s offerings – from sport clubs to fitness classes – as well as its operations, usage patterns, and user satisfaction data to ensure that a vital component of the Princeton experience is open to and positive for all. Her innovative spirit can be seen in everything from the annual Clash of the Colleges for first-year students, now one of Princeton’s liveliest traditions; to the Committee on Campus Recreation, which brings University-wide perspectives to bear on her unit’s policies and programs; to the elimination of fees that had discouraged some students from taking part in fitness classes.

Key to Jess’s success is the importance she attaches to creating a strong community. In the words of Anthony Archbald, executive associate director of athletics, ‘She has perfected building genuine relationships on this campus . . . Princeton is special to Jess, and she treasures the opportunity to be a part of this community.’ As this award attests, Princeton treasures her as well.”

Griffin Management Award

Two staff members have been honored as recipients of the Donald Griffin ’23 Management Award.

The Griffin Management Award was established by the family of alumnus and administrator Donald Griffin, Class of 1923. This year marks the 100th anniversary of his graduation from Princeton. The award is given by the Office of Human Resources to recognize administrative employees with a $2,500 grant to participate in an educational or professional conference that can result in new insights and perspectives, renewed motivations, or enhanced skills that can be applied to their current responsibilities.

Mo Connolly, director of learning of development, Office of Human Resources, gave the following remarks at the luncheon about the Griffin Award winners.

Michelle Horgan

“Michelle is assistant director for scheduling and event technologies in Conference and Event Services.

She is responsible for the University’s Event Management System, known as EMS, a valuable tool for faculty, staff, and students when it comes to planning events on campus.

In this role, Michelle has created significant process improvements, developed excellent working relationships with teams across campus, implemented and communicated policies, and is a reliable collaborator and advisor. Her work has allowed the University to assemble insightful data that can inform decisions on staffing, space planning and allocation, sustainability, and emergency management.

Director of Conference and Event Services Karen Vaughan describes Michelle’s impactful leadership style this way: ‘Michelle motivates . . . others to act by actively listening’ and ‘encourages her direct reports and other department team members to take ownership of projects and initiatives, while always remaining available for support, advice, and training.’ She ‘creates an environment that fosters open communication, innovation, and a desire to contribute and succeed.’

Thanks to the Griffin Award, Michelle will be able to attend an online course offered by the University of Chicago on strategic data storytelling. She is looking forward to strengthening her capacity to visualize data in compelling ways in the service of departmental and University-wide objectives.”

Deena Abdel-Latif

“Deena serves as program outreach and lab manager in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, where she plays an instrumental role in disseminating knowledge of this region through public programming and in advancing the work of the Geniza Lab, which is dedicated to studying and digitizing a rich collection of fragmentary documents from a medieval Egyptian synagogue.

In her nomination, Department Manager Karen Chirik describes how Deena approaches all aspects of her job with a positive attitude and a desire to learn and grow. She has risen to the challenge posed by the dramatic expansion of her lab, whose personnel have grown from a handful of researchers to more than 40 at any given time. And she has enriched her program’s outreach activities to include speakers and performers who have hitherto been under-represented. She is skilled at planning highly meaningful events, some of which have resonated greatly with our students, leading, in one case, to the formation of a Sudanese student group on campus.

To continue her growth as a manager, Deena will use her Griffin Award to enroll in Project Management 360, part of Cornell University’s Online Certificate Program. Her courses will explore topics such as leading project teams, managing conflict and resources, and leveraging emotional intelligence.”

Previous Slide Next Slide
  • The Service Recognition Luncheon is an annual celebration recognizing Princeton employees. Here, Joseph Capizzi, manager of finance and administration in the Department of Anthropology, poses with the Princeton Tiger.
Vice President of Human Resources Romy Riddick congratulates employees on their achievements over the last year.
Hundreds of employees enjoyed lunch in Jadwin Gymnasium on April 2.
President Christopher L. Eisgruber gives remarks at the event.
Princeton staff members enjoy a laugh during the event
The Learning and Development Team from the Office of Human Resources congratulate colleague Kamara Blackman (far right) on receiving the President’s Achievement Award.
Staff members celebrating extended service gather together for a photo at the Service Recognition Luncheon.