Brown’s School of Engineering recently awarded its annual Spirit of Excellence and Dean’s Service awards for the 2020-2021 academic year. Systems Administrator Bob Sheldon won the Spirit of Excellence award, while Shipping/Receiving Stockroom Coordinator John Lee received the Dean’s Service award. Both were recognized for their service to the School during the pandemic.
The Spirit of Excellence Award was created in 2015 and is given annually to an employee who brings new and innovative ways to do their work, and embraces the vision of the School of Engineering through his or her accomplishments during the previous academic year.
During the pandemic, Sheldon has been a cornerstone for the information technology department, and has been on campus as much as permitted by University rules. He has worked with dedication while keeping a positive attitude to ensure the School of Engineering faculty, staff, and students were able to successfully work remotely.
“Bob consistently volunteered whenever a need arose, demonstrating his commitment to the School and caring for the community,” said Larry Larson, Sorensen Family Dean of Engineering.
In addition to the critical role he played in enabling the ongoing IT operations, Sheldon helped move the School forward in new and tangible ways by assuming the central role for IT support of the Brown Design Workshop and the associated needs of the new Master of Arts in Design Engineering (MADE) program.
Finally, during the recent IT security incident on campus, Sheldon was the primary contact on campus, and greatly mitigated the impact, allowing the staff to continue to work and the faculty and graduate students to continue their research. Sheldon dropped everything to help respond to this critical need and was key in getting research back up and running with very little down time.
“This is just one example among many of how integral Bob is to the proper operation of our IT team. He is well deserving of this award,” said Larson.
The Dean’s Service Award, established during the 2012-13 academic year, was created to recognize a non-managing employee who has made a specific contribution or provided outstanding service in the School of Engineering. Presented annually, it recognizes the performance of an individual who has been a positive instrument of change, made significant contributions, and who has provided outstanding service to our internal and external constituents.
The past 18 months have challenged the entire University to work in new and constantly changing ways. John Lee was in the office for nearly the entire time during the pandemic and played a critical role in not only helping the School’s research restart, but also in ensuring that teaching and labs could continue so the students could have the fullest experience possible.
“John has made a great impact this year,” said Larson. “Not only did he keep the stockroom and deliveries open for our community, but he offered assistance when help was needed.”
For example, when RI Hospital had a large roll of plastic delivered for face shield assembly, Lee helped in getting the massive roll delivered into Prince Lab. Recently, space was needed for a new robotics course being taught in Prince Lab and Lee assisted in helping move some of the remaining boat building equipment left behind from a previous course.
Lee was instrumental in researching, handling, mailing out, and receiving the completed course kits for several courses, including many which went overseas which was challenging during a worldwide pandemic. He facilitated handing out equipment for the IT staff, and kept and handed out personal protective equipment which helped the community feel safer.
“John has maintained a positive attitude through it all,” said Larson. “He has been a rock for our community this past year. His efforts this year have had a broad impact on the mission of the School while everyone was working remotely and he truly deserves the Dean’s Service Award.”