UTPA employees honored at annual staff awards ceremony
Posted: 04/16/2009
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Staff members at The University of Texas-Pan American were honored April 15 during the 21st Annual Staff Employee Awards ceremony held in the Student Union Theater.

During the event, employees were recognized for their length of service and meritorious contributions during the 2008 calendar year. Also honored were 13 employees who retired during 2008.

Pictured with Dr. S. J. Sethi (second from left), assistant director of the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE), who was honored at the UTPA Staff Employee Awards ceremony with a Distinguished Service Award, are left to right James Langabeer, vice president for Business Affairs; Carol Rausch, assistant to the President; and Dr. Susan Griffith, OIRE executive director.
UTPA Interim President Dr. Charles A. Sorber thanked the approximately 200 employees gathered for not only their years of service to students and the University but those recognized for outstanding service, service he called "going above and beyond the daily service of getting the job done."

"Today I am reminded of President Theodore Roosevelt who said, 'The best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.' Remember that on the days you might feel overwhelmed, when the deadline is looming, when the desk is piled high...this ceremony recognizes that your labor here is significant. We recognize that your contributions here are making a difference to the lives of many in South Texas. You are working hard at work worth doing," Sorber said.

Recognized for length of service were 66 employees for five years; 36 employees for 10 years; and 20 employees for 15 years of service. Also honored were 15 employees who have been with the University for 20 years; 10 employees for 25 years; and four employees for 30 years.

Omar Cantu (center), director of Video Services, Office of Information Tech Support Services, was presented the President's Excellence Award by Dr. Charles A. Sorber (left), UTPA interim president, and Bob Lim (right), UTPA vice president for Information Technology, during the annual Staff Employee Awards ceremony April 15.
George R. Gause Jr. and Virginia Haynie Gause, both UTPA Library staff members; Margarita De la Pena, Building Maintenance; and Olga O. Kyle and Paula Zepeda, Comptroller's Office, were recognized for 35 years of service to the University. All length of service honorees were presented with a framed certificate and lapel pin recognizing their years of service.

Staff Senate Awards went to five employees who were nominated by their peers for exemplary job performance. Presented with a Staff Senate Award plaque were Esmeralda Guerra, Office of the President; Blanca Robles, Division of Academic Affairs; Sonia Tamez, Division of Business Affairs; Teresita Calderon, Division of University Advancement; and Jacqueline Adams, Division of Enrollment and Student Services.

A Teamwork Excellence Award, which recognizes a group of staff employees for their performance and/or dedication to the University and whose efforts, as a team, have clearly set them apart from their contemporaries, was presented to the Wireless Local Area Network Team and Network Services - IT Services. Team members recognized with this award included Nino Avila, Jon Cooksey, Ray Diaz, Efrain Molina, Florentino Morales, Rick Ramires, Jesus Rios and Kelly Smith. Over the past four years, this team designed, installed and implemented a highly sophisticated, unified, and state-of-the-art wireless network system serving all the staff, faculty and students at UTPA.

The Meritorious Service Awards recognized employees whose performance and dedication were beyond that normally expected. The recipients this year were Maria P. Espinoza, College of Health Sciences and Human Services; Maricela Espinoza, Coordinated Program in Dietetics; Miriam Garcia, Department of Economics and Finance; Myrna Ruiz, College of Business Administration; Carmen Estrada, Payroll Office; Janette Garcia, Human Resources; Jorge M. Garza, Facilities Planning and Construction; Melissa Rodriguez, Comptroller's Office; Richard Wilson, Budget Office; Javier Martinez III, Small Business Development Center; Christine Carruthers, Student Life and Transition Services; Xinmin Chen and Elias Ozuna, Student Financial Services; Sally Mendiola, Admissions and New Student Services; Joseph Banda, Information Technology Computer Center; Yolanda Lopez, Information Technology; and Aaron Cantu, University Relations. Each recipient received a personalized plaque, framed citation and a monetary award.

The Teamwork Excellence Award was presented to employees of UTPA's Wireless Local Area Network Team and Network Services - IT Services during the 21st Annual Staff Employee Awards ceremony.
Dr. S. J. Sethi, assistant director of the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, was honored with a Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes an employee who has distinguished himself/herself through acts of courage, selflessness or dedication so outstanding as to clearly set that individual apart from his/her contemporaries. Sethi directed the successful 2008 HESTEC (Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology) Week at the University.

This year a President's Excellence Award, which recognizes an individual employee whose sustained positive efforts have brought local, regional and national recognition upon the university, was presented to Omar Cantu, director of Video Services, Office of Information Tech Support Services. Cantu was responsible for insuring over the past four years that every instructional room at UTPA is now a media-equipped smart classroom enhancing the faculty's ability to deliver instruction in new and creative ways. He was also cited for his work with Region One Education Service Center school districts and other districts in facilitating interactive video systems for concurrent enrollment courses. Both Sethi and Cantu also received a personalized plaque, a framed citation and a monetary award.

For more information about the UTPA staff awards and for a listing of employees recognized visit the Web site at