Friday, 23 February 2007
Joyce Wins an Award
Anyone who visits the center cannot help but be impressed by how smoothly everything works. There is an effortless quality to it.
You are giving talk? Here are the dates left that month. How will people know about it? The calendar goes out once a month; and we'll put it on our website. Do you have a title and an abstract? Just send it--soon.
When you arrive in the room, the desks are all neatly arranged with whatever visual equipment you wanted set up and ready. The donuts and bagels are artfully plated. The coffee is hot and there's even cup of water discretely set on the shelf inside the lectern just in case your throat gets parched.
These and many more familiarities are taken for granted by everyone who passes through the Center. But they only happen because someone is worrying and wondering. Why don't we have that abstract yet? To which departments should the announcement go? Does this speaker want an overhead projector or a digital projector? Will they get caught in the icestorm on the turnpike?
Who is doing the worrying? Everyone on the staff; and especially Joyce McDonald. The pattern is so familiar. As the event approaches, Joyce's presence strengthens. She is moving from office to office, anticipating. Someone just registered for the workshop. "That late?!" I say. "Too late for us to make a name tag. They don't need one."
"Well," Joyce says thoughtfully, "it would be nice, I'll figure something out." She will. The name tag will be there with no sign of this or the one hundred and one other little, extra efforts that make everything seem automatic and perfect.
We were delighted but not surprized to hear that Joyce had won a Chancellor's Award for Staff Excellence in Service to the Community. For, while many of us know of Joyce's tireless dedication to the Center community, few know that this same dedication is replicated throughout her life. She is also a student at Pitt. A full time job and night classes is enough for most. Not Joyce--she is President of the College of General Studies Student Government. She spends her days here helping people and those efforts do not stop when goes home.
Joyce spends her spare time working for the Blood Bank, for women’s support groups, in numerous fundraisers and much more. She and her husband Randy spent their precious summer vacation last August in the warmer climate of North Carolina. But their goal was not to bask in the sun. They went to spend a week as volunteer staffing for a Language and Translation, Jungle, Airlift and Radio Service. It sounded like terrifically hard work to me; and they needed to get themselves there and work for free. But Joyce’s description was joyous.
The University is organizing ceremonies with all pomp. We thought we'd have something a little smaller in the Center this morning to mark the event and to tell Joyce how proud we are of her. So I brought a "Chocolate Ganache Torte," which, contrary to its name had been handmade in France and shipped to us. It can be hard to start work on a chilly Friday morning. So we could postpone the awful moment with a slice of cake, a cup of coffee and a heart-warming congratulations.
Joyce--we are proud of you!
John D. Norton