Assistant Professor of Lifestyle Fitness Activities Peter Roberts has seen a lot of changes at Wayne State during his 53 years at the university. But the one constant is also what’s kept him there so long: the students.
“The interaction with young people is what keeps me going,” Roberts said. “I’m hoping that I’ve been able to impart some of my knowledge onto my students and they’ve been able to go out and be successful. I’ve tried to set an example for them, and I hope they view their time with me positively.”
Roberts was one of more than 1,700 employees and retirees honored Tuesday, May 9, at the Employee Recognition Ceremony at the Wayne State Fieldhouse. Roberts reached the 50-year milestone in 2020, but the ceremony was on hiatus for the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Employee Recognition Ceremony recognized retirees, value award recipients, Spirit of Community Award recipients and employees who have reached milestone years of service, starting at 10 years.
(Photo gallery from the Employee Recognition Ceremony).
Executive assistant and contract administrator in the Office of the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, Pearlanne Pollard is one of the co-chairs of the event and one of more than 30 members of the Employee Recognition Committee.
Pollard was pleased to see the hard work of the entire committee pay off and said the ceremony is important to the culture of Wayne State.
“Employees need to know they are valued and that their contributions matter to the overall success of Wayne State University,” Pollard said. “It helps employees build a sense of security motivating them to continue great work. Eighty-two percent of people report feeling happier when they are recognized at work. When you foster a positive culture of recognition, you develop engaged and loyal employees. It increases job satisfaction, employee retention and collaboration, and reduces stress.”
Manager of faculty affairs support and data in the College of Nursing Elizabeth McQuillen celebrated 35 years at Wayne in 2022. McQuillen said it’s actually been 40 years if you count her time as a student worker. She’s earned three degrees from Wayne State, including her Ph.D. in Evaluation and Research.
“I love what I do, and I love Wayne State,” McQuillen said. “You know over the decades here a lot has changed, but the thing that really hasn't changed is the sense of dedication of everyone. You see a lot of people here today who retired three years ago and they’re back here.”
One of the retirees back to get honored was Donald Brown, who was an electrician at Wayne State for 22 years before retiring in 2022. Brown and all the other retirees got to have their names read at the event as they walked across the stage to a round of applause.
“This event is awesome,” Brown said. “I’ve enjoyed seeing some of the people I worked with. Wayne State is a great place to be and it’s fun to be able to get everybody together and honor so many people’s accomplishments. I appreciate it.”
Web accessibility coordinator Krystal Tosch celebrated her 10-year anniversary in 2021 and was honored at the ceremony as one of the Wayne State Value Award winners. She won the Warriors Trailblazers Award, which is given to innovators who demonstrate the courage to implement new things that result in improved processes and customer service.
“I came here as a student and I never left,” Tosch said. “It feels good to be recognized. I’m thrilled to see how Wayne State has evolved over the years. I think we are cultivating a culture of collaboration and hard work. This event is so nice, and it’s great to see everybody and see some of the people who have been here for so long.”
Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Carolyn Hafner was pleased to see the event return for 2023 and to see all the honorees have a great time.
“The Employee Recognition Ceremony is one of our long-standing and most beloved university traditions,” Hafner said. “It is not only an opportunity to salute our honorees, but to also celebrate our accomplishments together. This is what makes our culture special here at WSU and separates us from the competition with distinction. When people know that they are valued, they give their best. It's a pretty simple formula. If you ask some of our honorees why they have stayed so long, I'm certain many would say, ‘I love Wayne State University...’ We are who we are because of our people. I'd put our outstanding faculty and staff against anyone in the world.”
Hafner was also thankful for all the time and effort everyone on the Employee Recognition Committee put into planning the event.
“I am eternally grateful for the Employee Recognition Committee, who have been working on planning this event for several months,” Hafner said. “Their tireless efforts, creativity, teamwork, attention to every detail and commitment to hosting an excellent event for our honorees have made me so incredibly proud. I am so fortunate to work with such an awesome group of professionals. I am particularly proud of my amazing HR staff, but we have received such great collaboration and support from Special Events, Athletics, Procurement, Finance and Business Operations, Marketing and Communications, and Public Safety.”