Thayer receives staff recognition award

Patti Thayer, director of academic support at Northwestern College, has been named the 2006 recipient of the college’s Staff Recognition for Inspirational Service Award. The award was announced at Northwestern’s Spring Recognition Banquet on April 20.

As the recipient, Thayer receives a $500 honorarium funded by the Alumni Association, a plaque, and a luncheon for her and her coworkers. The honor is given to recognize staff who consistently provide outstanding contributions by going above and beyond what is expected, personify a strong Christian commitment and distinguish themselves as an inspiration to the campus community. Northwestern employees nominated candidates, and a selection committee—which included a faculty member, the three previous winners of the award and another staff member—selected Thayer.

Thayer, who taught writing at Northwestern from 1978 to 1984, becomes the first person to have won both the Northwestern Teaching Excellence Award and Northwestern’s staff award. She received the teaching honor in 1984.

She came back to Northwestern in 1989 after working in Ohio Northern University’s Communication Skills Center and teaching high school English in Sheldon, Iowa. As Northwestern’s director of academic support, she oversees 100 student tutors, provides accommodations for students with learning disabilities, and works individually with students who want to develop more efficient learning strategies.

Randy Van Peursem, academic support professional assistant, nominated his supervisor for the award, citing her strong Christian witness, work ethic and willingness to do whatever she can to help students.

“Her door is always open for people to discuss things with her, her arms are always open for people to receive a warm hug, and her heart is always open for people to build a relationship with her,” wrote Van Peursem. “The time and energy she puts into accommodating students and building relationships is worthy of emulation. She sees herself as a servant of Christ, and she humbly serves him by serving others.”

Van Peursem said Thayer makes many contributions to the Northwestern community.

“Patti’s strong organizational skills and attention to detail make her incredibly efficient. She is able to do amazing things with a limited budget and small staff. She is frequently asked to be on committees because of her gifts and talents—people know that with Patti on their committee, creative ideas will always be abundant.”

In Van Peursem’s nomination, he said Thayer has been an inspiration for countless individuals. Her impact on students, he wrote, often goes beyond their college years.

 “Many students have changed their career goals after working for Patti. They want a career like hers—either in writing or working with students with disabilities,” he wrote, adding a personal note. “The mature, Godly wisdom that Patti exhibits on a daily basis in all areas of life has influenced me beyond measure.”