Staff awards surprise recipients

Two Brandeis employees have been named the winners of the annual staff awards, administered by the Office of Human Resources.

Julie Seeger, academic administrator in the department of philosophy, has won the Lou Ennis Staff Award, presented to an administrator who demonstrates loyalty and dedication to the university and its mission, and who goes above and beyond the requirements of the job. The award says the recipient “should be professional, helpful and friendly, and they should be known to consistently treat all members of the community with dignity and respect.”

Seeger says she had no idea that the award was coming her way until she was sitting at her desk and Scot Bemis, Vice President for Human Resources appeared in the doorway. “He stuck his head in very tentatively, asking if I was Julie Seeger,” Seeger recalls. “Then he walked in armed with flowers.”

Seeger, who has a master's degree in philosophy, had been working at a dot-com six years ago when a want ad for the Brandeis job caught her eye. “The ad said they were looking for someone with a sense of humor and a sense of morality,” Seeger recalls. “When I found out it was to be an administrator at the Brandeis philosophy department, I said 'Hey! I have a master's in philosophy – this is my job!’”

Alluding to the comic strip character who lives in a cubicle, Seeger says, “It’s been great! Way better than the Dilbert world I was in.”

Seeger’s award is named for a former assistant vice president for employee relations who retired in 1995.

Catherine Broderick, department coordinator at the Martin A. Fisher School of Physics, has won the 2010 Louis and Helen Zirkel Staff Award, presented to a full-time staff member who provides support services. The winner, according to the guidelines, has gone “beyond the call of duty” to “make a significant contribution to or have demonstrated consistent effort to improve the service and the operation of his/her department and of the university.”

Broderick says she was very surprised when Bemis unexpectedly showed up at her desk bearing orange chrysanthemums.

She credits the physics department for allowing her to excel in the seven years she has worked there. “If there is a project I want to do, they let me do it,” she says. “It’s been a growing experience.”

Broderick lives in Waltham -- she says she goes home for lunch every day -- and remembers that the first time she applied to work at Brandeis, she did not get the job. She remembers that Patricia DiRuscio from human resources gave her lots of tips and helped her re-apply successfully. "Pat is a class act," says Broderick.

Broderick says she loves her job. ''Working for scientists, they are very bright people,” she says. “There are lots of ideas around the campus, and of course the campus is beautiful.”

While she is happy about the staff award, Broderick reports, “My mom is thrilled!”

Broderick’s award is named for the parents of Lehigh University Professor Perry Zirkel who is a friend of former Brandeis President Sam Thier.

Seeger and Broderick will be honored at the annual Employee Recognition Luncheon Dec. 10 at the Faculty Club, where President Jehuda Reinharz will present each with a plaque and a check for $500.

Winners are chosen by a committee representing a cross-section of the campus community which meets and considers nominations submitted each autumn by faculty, staff and students.

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