Employees Lauded for Their Diverse Talents and Contributions to ϳԹ

an older man speaks into a podium in front of a screen that reads "Employee Appreciation Year-End Gathering"

During the recent annual Employee Appreciation Day event ϳԹ President Doug Hicks ’90 pointed to the commitment and hard work required to successfully close out another academic year, even as employees gear up and prepare for the next. 

Hicks thanked an assembled crowd of staff and faculty for their continued dedication to Davidson, recognized service milestones and retirees, and handed out prizes and awards. 

Employee Awards

Spirit of Davidson Service Award: Hai Huynh

Students nominate hourly staff members for the Spirit of Davidson Award. This year, students expressed their appreciation for Hai Huynh, a dining services staff member who works in Vail Commons.

“He is incredibly helpful and friendly,” one student wrote. “His perpetual smile and warm greetings to students never fail to brighten my day.”

Another student described Huynh as “…the brightest and cheeriest person at Commons.” While yet another expressed appreciation for his concern for their dietary needs. “This small act demonstrated his attentiveness and willingness to listen to even the most minor needs of students. He has become a familiar face and our go-to person.”

Upon hearing of the award, Huynh’s supervisor said, “This is great news!” and his director said, “This is awesome!” 

The award honors staff members who excel in service to the college and its students. It’s the 13th year of the award, which Kathy and Gary Parsons established in appreciation for the caring way the staff treated and supported their son Mike ’08. The original award is $850; retired Mathematics ϳԹessor Donna Molinek and Frank Molinek added a gift to make the award $1,000.

Hackenson Family Fellowship: Danielle Strickland

With a cheerful disposition and unwavering enthusiasm, Director of Advancement Communications Danielle Strickland adds fun, positive energy and a seriousness of purpose to her work.

Strickland’s nominators said she “…uses her unique talents to interpret, articulate and share the amazing stories of the ϳԹ community. Regularly going above and beyond the scope of her role, she is known for her ability to listen — to listen to students’ memories, aspirations and journeys.” 

Nominators noted her many cross-campus relationships and credited her ability to recruit faculty, staff and students “to engage with and inspire alumni, families, friends and donors.” 

The award, established by Elizabeth and Bill Hackenson in honor of their son Billy’s 2013 graduation, recognizes a staff member who provides superior service to the college and its students. The $5,400 award is intended for travel or continuing education.

Matthews Travel Endowment: Richard Terry ’81

Director of Auxiliary Services Richard Terry works behind the scenes; making day-to-day life at Davidson happen. His colleagues agree he leads by example and that there is no job too small for him to personally take on. 

One nominator shared, “his thoughtful consideration of others and his bone-deep kindness are the attributes that set him apart. These are the traits that make him a model of what a Davidson graduate can be and that have won him the respect of everyone with whom he interacts. He achieves everything the college needs from him, but the way he does that is what makes him such an appropriate recipient.”

Frank Matthews ’49 established the award in memory of his brothers, Eugene Robinson Matthews ’36 and James Houston Matthews ’50. The award is “in due recognition of the outstanding and unselfish service rendered Davidson by members of the college family.” The $20,000 award covers travel for the recipients and their families, “to afford opportunities for personal renewal and enjoyment.”

Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award: Marlene Arellano ’17

Marlene Arellano, associate dean of admission, director of diversity and inclusion, is a key part of the team that works to recruit, admit, yield and retain first-generation and historically underrepresented students at Davidson. As a Davidson graduate, she knows the impact of personalized mentorship and has served as mentor to many during her tenure.

One nominator said Arellano’s work ethic, creativity and enduring commitment have always been present, “yet never has it been more needed and felt than in this past year, a year filled with external obstacles and challenges to the higher education community and directly affecting our enduring work in creating an inclusive campus community.”

The $10,000 award recognizes a staff member “who has worked hard to create positive, systemic change in the ϳԹ community. This person has gone over and beyond the call of duty to make Davidson a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place.”