When Virginia Haynie Gause started at then-Pan American University 40 years ago, there were about 6,000 students enrolled and not much flora on campus.
"I had come from a school that had 2,500, so Pan Am has always been big to me," said Gause, The University of Texas-Pan American's media and marketing librarian.
Over the past four decades, Gause saw the University join The University of Texas System and grow to now more than 20,000 students and more than 1,000 full-time staff.
"It's amazing all the new programs we've been able to implement and new staff members, people with lots of specialties," said Gause.
On Thursday, May 8, Gause was one of more than 200 staff members honored for their service at UTPA's 26th Annual Staff Employee Awards Ceremony at the Student Union Theater.
In addition to employees being honored for their years of service, Gail Fagan, a public affairs representative in the Division of University Advancement, received the President's Excellence Award -the highest award a staff member can receive. The award is given to an employee who, through positive efforts and devotion, has proven a true commitment to excellence. Fagan, who also celebrated her 10th anniversary with the Office of Public Affairs (formerly known as University Relations) on Thursday, was lauded for her tireless work to promote the University locally, regionally and nationally through her writing and connecting with media outlets to report on UTPA.
The University bestowed Staff Senate Awards to employees from each of its six divisions, including a posthumous award to Eduardo "Eddie" Arguelles from the Division of Information Technology, who died last month after being struck by a vehicle while he was riding his bicycle. His wife, Monette, accepted the award on his behalf.
Other accolades given were the Meritorious Service Awards to 16 staff members, a Teamwork Excellence Award to the Outreach and Recruitment Team in the Division of Student Affairs, the Outstanding Suggestion Award to staff members in the Procurement Management Office in the Division of Business Affairs and a Distinguished Service Award to Frances Rivera, assistant director of the Budget Office in the Division of Business Affairs.
UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen praised the award recipients and said all employees deserve kudos for the hard work they do.
"You help to make this Valley and this nation stronger and better," Nelsen said. "So this is a celebration today of you, the years you've put in, the work you've done, y los corazones que tienen (the hearts that you have). From the bottom of my heart, I thank you and I celebrate you and I applaud each and every one."
A list of all employees who received awards is posted on the UTPA Office of Human Resources' website.
See more of the ceremonies in this Facebook photo gallery.