SRU honors Fonner, Campbell with President’s Awards for Outstanding Service
Karla Fonner and Mimi Campbell, who have a combined 41 years working at Slippery Rock University, were selected as co-recipients of the 2020 President’s Awards for Outstanding Service.
April 22, 2020
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Karla Fonner and Mimi Campbell are a dynamic duo at Slippery Rock University. Together, they have earned four degrees as SRU alumnae and combined to work more than 40 years at the University. Now they share the distinction of being co-recipients of the 2020 President's Awards for Outstanding Service.
Fonner, director of student support, and Campbell, associate director of housing accommodation, recently the honors along with each receiving a $1,000 cash award.
Established in 1981 and funded by SRU supporters, the late Donna and Robert McMullen, '51, the award recognizes extraordinary commitment to University service and citizenship beyond the scope of an employee's job function as demonstrated through active participation in on- and off-campus activities that benefit the University. Doug McMullen, an SRU Foundation, Inc. board member, and his wife, Linda, continue to sponsor the award.
Nominations for the award are solicited from and reviewed by nominees' supervisors before they are forwarded to members of the president's cabinet who select the winner.
"The work that we do is really challenging and I'm always trying to do what's best for students and balance that with what's best for our campus community," Fonner said. "I just feel very fortunate and grateful to be recognized for doing this kind of work."
Fonner, '01, '17M, has served as director of student support since 2017, but she's worked in a similar capacity since 2014, managing referrals for students who are experiencing difficulties, including everything from class absenteeism to matters of mental health. Fonner started working at SRU in 2003 as a project coordinator.
To Fonner, outstanding service is defined by how she relates to students.
"It's about having empathy for people who are in really difficult situations," Fonner said. "You have to be willing to listen and sit with someone when they're going through what may be the most difficult thing they've ever experienced."
Fonner goes beyond the scope of her job function not only by her time with students but also advocating for them in her committee work, both on campus, locally and across the state. She serves on the SRU President's Commission for Mental Health, the Butler County Suicide Task Force and Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education's System Redesign Team on Mental Health and Wellness, to name a few.
Campbell, '91, '93M, has worked at SRU for the last 24 years, the first 22 years in the Admissions Office, serving in roles that include admissions counselor, assistant director, associate director and interim director. In 2018, she became associate director of housing accommodation, a role in which she manages the placement of students in residence halls. She goes beyond her job function through her accessibility to students.
"I really try to be accessible and meet students where they are, because to provide good customer service you have to be available to people," Campbell said. "Students don't always answer emails or their voicemails, so I use Google Voice and text messaging. Working in housing, I like helping people and (building) long-term friendships with students and families. Because (where students live and go to school) is a family decision."
Campbell said she was influenced and mentored by several people in her career, namely Joy DeSalvo, a former colleague at Youngstown State University; Marian Hargrave and Carla Hradisky, whom she worked with when she first arrived at SRU; and her parents and her grandmother, Violet Miller, who used to work in the SRU Payroll Office.
"My grandma worked at the University a long time ago," said Campbell. "She passed away a few years ago, and the first thing that my mom said when I told her about this award was, 'Your grandma would be proud.'"
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, campus activities that include the annual Celebration of Achievement ceremony are either canceled or postponed. Fonner, Campbell and other President's Award winners will be formally recognized at a later date when on-campus activities resume.
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