Written By: Kim Stuart
The University Unions are essential to creating a productive and welcoming student life here at JMU. The numerous opportunities that are available for students on campus would not be possible without the staff that makes up the Union. Each member dedicates their time and energy to ensure that the Union operates at its full potential. While the many people who walk through Madison Union and Festival may not recognize all of the hard work that the employees do every day, the University Unions do. Each year, a staff member is recognized as the University Unions Staff Member of the Year.
Every October, staff members are nominated by their peers. In these nominations, coworkers are given the opportunity to state the impact that their nominee has made to the Union. So many staffers displayed astounding efforts to support the Union that this year, 18 different staff members were nominated for this award.
After carefully considering all of the nominations, the award committee decided that Debbie Kauffman, the Coordinator of Event Scheduling at Festival Conference and Student Center, was most deserving of this recognition. Her positive attitude and incredible work ethic have made her an invaluable member of the University Unions and JMU.
Debbie has held her position with Event Scheduling for the past 21 years and has been at JMU for 28 years. Her dedication to her career can be seen in the ways that Festival welcomes students. Debbie goes above and beyond to ensure that Festival is a friendly and welcoming environment for all who walk through its doors. Those who nominated her noted that Debbie is a kind, welcoming presence in the Festival Scheduling Office.
Receiving the award proved to Debbie that the work she does every day is valued by those around her. Upon accepting the award, Debbie stated, “It shows me that the people I work with see and appreciate the work that I do.”
The other members of the University Unions prove the accuracy of Debbie’s realization. Sue Burket, the Assistant Director of Event Management, spoke highly about Debbie’s presence in the Union. “Debbie is one of the sweetest, kindest, honest and dependable [people] I know. Her care and compassion extend to the building managers as well as any students she encounters.” Sue continued this by stating, “She deserves her title of ‘queen’ and deserves a crown as she is a true jewel.”