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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
April 11, 2007
DeKalb — Four members of the Operating Staff at Northern Illinois University have been chosen to receive the Outstanding Service Award for 2007.
The recipients are Margie Foshe from the Office of the Provost, Varsie Geisler from the School of Allied Health Professions, Diana Grace from the College of Law and George Tarbay from Media Services.
About 1,800 employees make up the Civil Service staff. Each year, four are selected by a committee of their peers to receive the award of plaques and $1,500. They will be honored at a Thursday, May 10, banquet.
Here is a closer look at the recipients.
NIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is home to half of the university’s faculty, half of its instructors, three-fourths of its principal investigators with grants and several members of the Operating and Supportive Professional staffs.
Yet only one person processed all this personnel paperwork: Margie Foshe.
“Despite the high volume of work and the aggravating fluidity of our appointments, Margie’s paperwork is always done properly, done accurately and done on time,” said Joseph Grush, acting dean of NIU’s largest college.
A 30-year employee now working in the Provost’s Office, Foshe is known for her efficiency, effectiveness, sense of humor and creative solutions to novel problems.
She created the college’s comprehensive personnel handbook for department chairs and head secretaries, developed training workshops for secretaries and designed spreadsheets to assist with merit-based salary calculations.
“Margie stands head and shoulders above others in her never-ending effort to make everyone else better,” Grush said.
Off campus, Foshe served 10 years on the village board in Lee, where she helped to organize the town’s 125th anniversary celebration and launch “Bingo in Lee,” and where she volunteers for a friend in need.
“An Outstanding Service Award wouldn’t come close to recognizing and rewarding her for all she does for this university,” said David J. Buller, chair of the Department of Philosophy, “but it would be a good start.”
Varsie Geisler is a compassionate, selfless person with a kind, gentle soul.
Ask the members of the Parent-Teacher Association at Jefferson School, where she assisted in organizing classroom gatherings and community outings as well as annual book fairs and fundraisers.
Ask the congregation of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where she sings in the choir, substitutes as a Sunday School teacher, coordinates processing of orders and distribution of tickets for the annual lobster boil and ministers to people in crisis.
Ask the faculty and staff in the School of Allied Health Professions, where she is secretary to and problem-solver for the Public Health and Health Education programs, home to 500 students.
“Students come to make appointments with an adviser, to find where a moved class is meeting, to determine the office hours of their instructor, to learn how to get into a class, to leave an assignment and a thousand other matters that I cannot begin to fathom,” said Ellen Parham, former interim chair.
“Studies of student retention tell us that students who stick it out are the ones that find someone who pays attention and cares,” Parham added. “For many, that is Varsie.”
An eight-year employee, Geisler was a founding inductee of Phi Beta Delta (an honor society for international scholars) and has received two awards from the Center for Access-Ability Resources.
The DeKalb Post Office supervisor had a crisis.
A customer used a debit card to purchase a $2,300 money order but left unaware that the clerk had failed to complete the transaction and was now on the hook for $2,300 from her own pocket. The only clue: The customer was an NIU law student.
Enter Diana Grace, secretary in the law school’s Office of Budget and Records and a 20-year NIU employee who is considered the “go to” person when problems occur.
With little information, Grace contacted several offices on the trail of the student who she later found in a classroom.
“I am not nominating Diana for this award based on her duties,” said Robert Snow, assistant to the dean, “but the manner in which she fulfills her responsibilities.”
To many, Grace is the “human face” of the College of Law.
She handles the registration of the college’s more than 300 students, the maintenance and tracking of their enrollment status, the processing of employment and payment authorizations, and other documents unique to the college, such as state bar certifications.
Grace is active in her church’s choir and prayer chain. She also is steeped in fairness: her administration of the lottery for seats in a popular skills training class, and her maintenance of the subsequent waiting lists, yields no criticism from busy law students.
For 30 years, George Tarbay has enjoyed the camera eye’s view of NIU.
The Media Services photographer is a staple at events, shooting images that will appear in print in university publications, department brochures and local newspapers and in frames throughout campus hallways and offices.
His work has won more than 30 awards, and he recently was the featured photographer in the University Photographers Association of America’s publication, “Contact Sheet.”
“George’s even temperament and cool composure under extremely tight deadlines and in difficult and stressful situations are one of the keys to his high degree of success over his long career,” said Jay Orbik, director of Media Services. “Professors, chairs, deans and presidents have sought out George’s expertise because they know that George Tarbay always produces outstanding results.”
Abigail Dean, assistant director of donor relations for the NIU Foundation, said Tarbay “leaves no detail unfinished.”
“George is very cordial and welcoming to our guests,” Dean said. “He knows that as one who wanders the crowd asking for photographs of guests, he is very much a public face of the university.”
Tarbay teaches T’ai Chi through Kishwaukee College, has served on the DeKalb Cornfest Race committee for 21 years and is a sought-after judge for local photo competitions. He also donates framed photographs for auction on behalf of the DeKalb Family Service Agency.
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