Virginia Tech™home

Hokie Highlights

Recognize a Hokie today

Hokie Highlights is a venue to recognize Virginia Tech employees or teams that have helped keep the university running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collage of essential workers at Virginia Tech including: Linsey Marr working in lab, Facilities worker picking up trash, construction workers standing over construction site, students working in classroom with peer on laptop, facilities worker cleaning floors

Virginia Tech wants to thank university employees who have kept the university running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Nominees can include an individual housekeeper or team maintaining top-notch cleanliness in your building, a professor who has gotten creative in delivering course content, your favorite Dining Services chef, and everyone in between.

Submissions will be updated on an ongoing basis. Those below reflect submissions between March 15-April 2.

University operations

Grounds team

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

During limited work time, the Grounds team was able to miraculously keep the lawns mowed and the campus grounds in excellent condition, despite the limitations placed on them by the pandemic and a growing season that saw twice the normal rainfall!

Facilities Decontamination team

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

This team volunteered at the beginning of the pandemic to take additional training on personal protective equipment and specialized devices to provide decontamination for areas that EHS identified as recently occupied by people with positive COVID-19 tests. This allowed spaces to be re-opened within hours of identification (as opposed to a 10 day waiting period). This service not only created safe work spaces, but provided peace of mind for university employees.

Bruce Lytton

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

Bruce worked very closely with the engineering group and Environmental Health and Safety on HVAC filter upgrades to enhance air changes throughout academic buildings. This was instrumental in deploying hundreds of air purifying units in departmental and general assignment classrooms.

Josh Caldwell

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

During the past year, Josh has done an outstanding job of keeping the PM Technicians and Rounding teams supplied with the materials and other needs of our department. If we had an MVP Award, he would get a lot of votes!

James Murphy

Division of Information Technology

At the beginning of the pandemic, James drafted a quick response plan to help with the transition. For the faculty who come to the building to teach, James made a daily sanitization plan for the Zoom rooms. For the student assistants who come to the building to work, James provides PPE and hand sanitizer. James puts the health and wellness of his employees first.

Tiffany Shoop, Liesl Baum, Danielle Lusk

Division of Information Technology

Not only did TLOS and Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (CETL) provide formalized material in professional development classes, CETL staff worked with me in individualized practice sessions with my TAs prior to the semester to ensure Zoom went well. Additionally, I contacted TLOS through their 4help line throughout the semester. I ended up with my highest evaluations ever, where students commented on how smooth the class ran.

Kathy Shelor

Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Kathy has come in every day during the pandemic to cheerfully keep the main office running. She has worked on extra tasks beyond her normal duties and still keeps up with everything she does.

Roberta Polak

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

Last fall, Roberta stepped up and took over as the lead coordinator for the COVID-19 Case Management Team for all of campus right at the peak of the pandemic. Roberta took over the program in addition to several other EHS teammates to continue to provide case management services to our employees affected by COVID-19. 

Virginia Tech Emergency Management

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

Mike, Andrew, and Jen and the entire Emergency Managment team have been instrumental in laying out the foundation of our pandemic response over the past year. Andrew has been instrumental in the development of the VEOCI system to manage COVID-19 cases across campus. Jen has been the backbone for compiling multi-department feedback for the framework of all policies regarding Virginia Tech's COVID-19 response, and Mike has been a liaison with all of our community resources to make Virginia Tech's COVID-19 response possible. Well done team!

Marc White

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure and Facilities

Marc has been available to help our department (ARCD) throughout the pandemic. He is always coming in with a smile or joke and helps us fix any problem. With his help we were able to keep our Vivarium running without a problem during COVID-19.

Fleet Services team

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

Fleet Services has had to shift its focus during the pandemic to provide a courier service to the university, transporting COVID-19 test samples from the Schiffert Health Center to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute lab. For most of the past year, this has meant two deliveries per weekday and some on weekends. This led to employees having to adjust their schedules to accommodate these changes. Their work was tremendously helpful and key to making the operation work.

Stephanie G. Coe

College of Engineering

For the last year, she has helped multiple other departments in Randolph by receiving packages when we were closed. She logs the packages, sorts them by address, emails us to pick them up, and stores packages in her office until they can be picked up. She has coordinated with us as our schedules and staffing have changed during the last 12 months. She has willingly taken on this additional responsibility, allowing many others to work remotely.

Mail Services team

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

This team delivered packages and mail every single day during the pandemic, even when almost the entire campus was shut down.

Technical staff of Virginia Tech Animal Laboratory Services

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

The entire team was critical in maintaining diagnostic laboratory operations during the pandemic by continuing to offer high quality diagnostic service to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and veterinarians in the region.

Athletics Grounds Crew

Virginia Tech Athletics

Even when athletics stopped, they were still taking care of the fields so that when play returned, the fields were ready to go.

Wanda Gray

Division of Student Affairs

Wanda has worked the entire pandemic supervising a team of employees and buildings. She is the designated person in charge of cleaning East Eggleston rooms for quarantine and isolation. She has also worked numerous weekends in a row providing the services required for East Eggleston to be maintained as a quarantine and isolation building. She has successfully been working short-handed throughout  the pandemic without a lead or a full team of employees.

Anthony Watson

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

Anthony has been onsite every day since the start of the pandemic and continually pushes the Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities organization to provide quality service in response to the demands of the pandemic. His leadership of the housekeeping and trades team, plus his vast knowledge of every facility on campus, allowed our organization to provide students and faculty a safe place to work and study. I have no doubt his efforts were directly responsible for keeping Virginia Tech running during the past year.

Second Shift Housekeeping team

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

This team was created at the onset of the pandemic to address the increased need for disinfecting. They focused on high touch areas across campus, primarily in academic areas, contributing to zero verified transmissions of the virus in a classroom setting. They also enabled several academic departments to operate extended hours by providing after hour services.

Building Trades team

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

This team pulled together safety partitions for on campus testing sites at Lane Stadium within a matter of hours, allowing the university to safely continue operations. They pulled materials from on site and designed and fabricated partitions with very little direction. These partitions are still in use today.

Dale Pike

Division of Information Technology

Dale and the entire Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) team have worked to keep everything online (Canvas, Zoom) running smoothly, and have been instrumental in helping faculty pivot to online learning. He (with collaboration from his team) came up with many ideas to aid faculty and students throughout the pandemic.

Annette Bohon

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

Annette is a very hard worker and always goes above and beyond what is required of her. Annette is part of our team in Randolph Hall and is familiar with the working habits of faculty, staff and students. For example, she often knows what needs immediate attention without even being asked. Annette is an expert at her work and offers a cheerful face during everyday operations, especially during the difficulties faced due to the pandemic.

Max Cruz

Division of Student Affairs

Max has been working hard in Squires Student Center, doing exquisite work to keep the Department of Music wing clean and safe. You can often hear Max singing in the halls, allowing for a positive atmosphere in our now quiet wing of the building. He has a positive rapport with all of the students, and they enjoy seeing him everyday. He makes an attempt to learn their names, which as we all know, is helpful during this time of wearing masks. Just simply saying "hello" can brighten someone's day. Thank you to Max for his hard work and continued enthusiasm.

Dane Sheely

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

Officer Sheely kept us safe with proactive law enforcement and put smiles on our faces with great jokes.

Sue Teel

Division of Human Resources

Sue has been the main contact for surveillance testing and vaccinations. Despite the many challenges that come with the rapid changes and requests, she remains cheerful and calming. I can't think of anyone else who could have handled this with such grace.

Virginia Tech Electric Service Linemen

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

The linemen have continued to respond to power outages and offer support to construction projects during the pandemic.

Safety & Security Divisional Business Center

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

The Divisional Business Center has continued to do financial business for the office of the AVP for Safety and Security, Emergency Management, Environmental Health and Safety, and Virginia Tech Police during the pandemic. Additionally, the team automated transactional processes to make expenditure requests and travel/training requests with supervisory approval electronic. This has led to the creation of customized solutions for process automation that meet each department's needs.

Tom Pridgen

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Tom has worked every day in Latham Hall to keep facilities running. Additionally, extra work was put in to take all mail and packages from the Virginia Tech mail center to the building or labs.

Parking Services enforcement team

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

The Parking Services Enforcement group went above and beyond in helping Montgomery County graduations last May be successful and organized. Additionally, they provided assistance to Mail Services until just recently, and prepared classrooms and common spaces for social distancing.

Transportation Services team

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

Over the summer, Mail Services shifted to A & B teams to keep employees safe and help operations run smoothly. This wouldn't have been possible without assistance from Transportation Services. Their work continued during most of the fall semester with the distribution of on-campus student packages from War Memorial Gym. This assistance lasted until late January/early February when Mail Services employees had the opportunity to get vaccinated.

Virginia Tech Emergency Management

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

Virginia Tech Emergency Management (VTEM) has been at the forefront of planning a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. VTEM has worked countless hours writing plans, organizing meetings, coordinating logistics, and creating a customized software solution for case tracking. This group of individuals has stepped in to assist others, not only at Virginia Tech, but also in the community. Their efforts and commitment have been a benefit to the university in this global health crisis.

Susan Fleming-Cook

College of Engineering

Susan has been unfailingly helpful to other departments with offices in Randolph Hall for the last year by receiving packages when we were closed, and emailing us when packages arrived. She has cheerfully taken on these duties and coordinated with us through changing schedules and situations.  Her willingness to take on this additional responsibility has allowed many others to work remotely, protecting their families and themselves.

Meghan Fitterer and Michael Parrish

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

Meghan and Michael provided valuable feedback in the review of divisional business processes during the pandemic.

Jon Clark Teglas

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

As a dedicated leader in Facilities, Jon Clark has been on campus every day to ensure that the Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities response was well coordinated and executed across campus. His constant communication with other departmental leaders was crucial, as new protocols and procedures were developed and implemented in response to the demands of the pandemic. His insights, experience, and calm demeanor were an asset to IMT operations.

Housekeeping team

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

This incredible group was on campus every day of the pandemic when many others were working from home. Their efforts to keep classrooms and offices safe and clean were directly tied to allowing university operations to continue. They executed a detailed reopening plan, which called for enhanced disinfecting protocols and procedures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Minor Modifications Project team

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

This team was responsible for purchasing and installing numerous partitions in both classroom and office spaces, allowing individual employees to return to work safely. They responded to multiple requests and provided expedited service to ensure public safety.

Greg Canaday, Robbie Santolla, Justin Hurt, Jarod Alls, Andy French

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

The Housekeeping Leadership team played a critical role in the success of campus resuming in-person classes.  They led efforts to install 1,100 hands-free sanitizers and 750 soap dispensers across campus. They were responsible for creating an extremely successful second shift disinfectant team, which allowed colleges and facilities to operate extended hours by continually disinfecting high-touch areas.

Network Infrastructure and Installations team

Division of Information Technology

The Network Infrastructure and Installations (NII) team has been the key on-location support for the implementation of a variety of technological improvements that support the university’s response to the pandemic. These improvements include providing hands-on connectivity for new network and wireless connections, new phone infrastructure, and new mass notification solutions in the VT Alerts portfolio. Members of the NII team consistently went above and beyond to enable the university to deploy technology on very short notice. The NII team members were the boots on the ground to make it happen, and their dedication to service and the university is exemplary.

Network Infrastructure & Services (NI&S) Logistics team

Division of IT

The NI&S Logistics team has continued to operate the technological warehouse for the department, receiving and distributing equipment for services across the university. As several groups were able to do their work remotely, the Logistics team continued to be onsite, being the central distribution point for equipment needed to enable the huge increase in telework, in addition to distributing equipment to allow ongoing operations to continue. Their daily onsite support has been key in allowing multiple university functions to continue during the pandemic.

Ludwig Gantner, Terri Pecora, Bill Herrington, Andrew Marinik

Division of Information Technology; Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

This is the team that made the Virginia Tech COVID-19 dashboard work. Gantner led the Division of IT's COVID-19 Apps team that worked with Virginia Tech Emergency Management to deploy the Hokie Ready app. When the need for a public-facing COVID-19 dashboard was identified, Pecora and Herrington were brought in to contribute their expertise. As feedback was received and as needs changed, the team worked to quickly update and improve the dashboard at the direction of university leadership, the IMT, and Emergency Management. 

Jenna Bauer

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure and Facilities

Jenna has been the main "all things COVID-19" contact for the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities and Business Services units. This includes case and contact management, surveillance testing, and vaccination scheduling. It required a high level of detail and organization, which she managed incredibly well.

Virginia Tech Surplus

Division of Finance

In March, April, and May of 2020, the team partnered with Virginia Tech Emergency Management to gather available PPE located in department inventories. As more PPE was able to be acquired, the surplus staff redesigned the warehouse to be a centralized PPE distribution center. Since July 2020, departments haven’t had to worry about the supplies needed to keep their faculty, staff and students safe. Ron Barrett, Director of Surplus, chose to continue to come to the warehouse everyday to provide the PPE that the university needed. There was a small team behind this effort, but they did the work of a large department in a very short amount of time.

Juliet Dadras

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio

Juliet leads the employee COVID-19 case management team for Virginia Tech Environmental Health and Safety. If you have interacted with Juliet, you are immediately aware of her kind, empathetic spirit and dedication to the well-being of our employees. Reporting a COVID-19 case or exposure can be nerve-racking, but Juliet always finds a way to put the caller at ease.

Susan Hypes

Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure and Facilities

Susan has been very dedicated to keeping everyone in the Student Services Building safe. She goes above and beyond by taking on more safety and sanitation precautions during the pandemic. I feel comfort knowing that we have Susan as our housekeeper which makes coming to work easier. Thank you Susan for keeping students and employees safe and happy!

Jim Tibbs

Division of Information Technology

When the entire NI&S Systems Operations team moved to working off-site, Jim remained in the office.  He's provided critical "smart hands" support for the rest of the team within the AISB data center. His willingness to not only be on campus, but to dedicate himself to the needs of the unit enabled the rest of the team to work remotely for the entire year. Additionally, by being onsite, he noticed a major water leak in the data center facility that might have gone undetected for longer had he not been there.

TLOS team

Division of Information Technology

As the pandemic began, TLOS ramped up training and consulting to ensure that instructors had the requisite knowledge and tools to move their instruction online. They adapted quickly to help the university community manage problems like "Zoom-bombing," proctoring of remote exams, and performance issues with Kaltura. TLOS personnel also led the way to ensure that faculty had the tools and knowledge to make their digital content accessible to all students and others in our university community. TLOS was well positioned with technology, programs, and relationships to meet the needs of the pandemic, but had to deploy, scale up, and adapt quickly as we learned more and needs changed.

Academics and Research

Agricultural Technology Program

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

As Virginia Tech's only Associate Degree granting program, Agricultural Technology realizes the value of the hands-on experiences our students expect. As a core faculty, we committed ourselves to provide as much in-person instruction, field, and lab experience as we safely could in the 2020-21 academic year. Our students and their families have relayed to us how appreciative they are that our hands-on and in-person instruction continued.

Scott Lancaster

Industrial and Systems Engineering, College of Engineering

Under Scott’s leadership, his team did the following during the summer months: fabricated and installed acrylic barriers at each workstation in the sand casting laboratory area, purchased and placed signage for each lab station, redesigned each lab to allow for social distancing, and created sanitizing procedures for materials, safety glasses, gloves, etc. Most importantly, Scott was there to make sure his team's morale stayed as high as possible. With clear communication, compassion, and strong leadership, Scott has been able to keep his team motivated and working hard during a global pandemic.

Mike Butler

College of Engineering

Mike oversaw the transfer of EngE 1216 hands-on, project based learning logistics. This included materials ordering, budgeting, and distribution.

Gloria Kiernan

School of Architecture + Design, College of Architecture and Urban Studies

Gloria is the go-to person for fiscal management and procedures and policies, as well as for most other daily operations for the school faculty and staff. Often she's been placed in the role of teaching new and continuing faculty and staff how to do a wide range of activities necessary for the school's operations. She continues to help coordinate storage and building care with a variety of faculty and staff. She is a mail and delivery point of contact, and a go-to for answering "how do I do this?"

Clinical Faculty, Staff, and Students

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

When everything shut down on campus, these essential workers figured out how to care for clinical patients in person, while simultaneously teaching students remotely. They Zoomed their daily rounds, shared live or videoed clinical cases, quickly pivoted to online teaching modules, and graduated the class of 2020 as Doctors of Veterinary Medicine 6 weeks after the shutdown. As vaccination efforts rolled out and ramped up, faculty once again stepped up to fulfill their oath to "protect public health." The veterinary pharmacists quickly became vaccinators and volunteered to assist the local health department in giving COVID-19 vaccines. Once veterinarians were allowed to vaccinate, many faculty and students signed up to assist.

Kevin Sullivan, Mitch Harvey, and David Taylor

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

Everyone at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has pushed forward to ensure that our research projects did not stall, and found innovative ways to collaborate. This particular group has been willing to be onsite and work within the COVID-19 protocols to safely facilitate interaction with public participants. Their work has allowed multiple projects to flourish and commence their stated mission of data collection on time and in some cases ahead of schedule. They have been our boots on the ground in every sense of the phrase.

Physics Teaching Laboratory Staff and Instructors

Department of Physics, College of Science

This team is responsible for successfully educating over 2,700 students enrolled in physics teaching laboratories each term. Last year, many of these laboratories had to be put online, while those being operated in person required additional effort to be in accordance with health guidelines. This required effort above and beyond the usual expectations.

Continuing Professional Education Registration team and Depositor

Continuing & Professional Education

In March 2020 we were left with only two employees in registration for nearly six months. The unit of two maintained stellar customer service for our participants, fielding countless calls about program cancellations, date changes, and processing more than 800 refunds. Additionally, our depositor also elected to remain in the office, working independently for over a year now. Having these individuals remain in place and committed to their daily tasks, in addition to monitoring general maintenance needs in the building has been invaluable. The value this team has brought to our programs, participants, and our team, who continues to work remotely, has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Barbara Wise

Fralin Life Sciences Institute

Her expertise and experience were critical in the preparation of Steger Hall becoming one of the initial sites for COVID-19 testing. She tackled each and every obstacle with a high level of professionalism while being under extreme deadlines.  Additionally, Barbara assisted research labs to be able to comply with COVID-19 guidelines and continue their research. To say that Barbara has gone "above and beyond" is a tremendous understatement. She exemplifies Ut Prosim.

Virginia Tech Roanoke Center

Outreach and International Affairs

The Virginia Tech Roanoke Center team offers non-credit professional development programming. In normal times, these seminars, workshops, and conferences are held in-person, but all of the courses had to be moved to a virtual format during the pandemic. The team met this challenge with creativity and innovation and presented many successful programs.

Pam Adams

VTCSOM Department of Basic Science Education

Throughout the pandemic, Pam has supported the mission and content delivery in an uninterrupted manner, working tirelessly to ensure the delivery is seamless and the organization of content is nothing but perfect. Her work is very much the forefront of the experience that the students have, and her attention to her work has a positive impact on all of us. She has also been effective at maintaining communication and relationships with all course directors, which has been essential given everyone’s dynamic work schedules.

Brian Naperkoski and Rod La Foy

College of Engineering

Brian and Rod had their boots on the ground to assemble and distribute close to 2,000 kits to first year engineering students.

Kim Filer

Academic Affairs, Office of the Provost

With Kim's leadership, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning staff provided teaching resources and professional development opportunities at scale for Virginia Tech during the past year. Kim also leads the Bridge Experiences initiative that is part of the university's strategic plan to incorporate experiential learning into all undergraduate degrees. She successfully developed this initiative as Virginia Tech's Quality Enhancement Plan for the university's recent reaccreditation process. These accomplishments are impressive individually, but successfully implementing both during a pandemic is a testament to Kim's dedication to Virginia Tech students, passion for higher education, and embodiment of Ut Prosim.

Chelsey Hancock

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

Chelsey is quick to respond to incoming student concerns and provides guidance on issues that are brought to her attention. Chelsey also supports the program by leading the scholarship review process, orientation, open house sessions, coordination of curriculum change submissions, and by performing many other miscellaneous tasks. She has continued to provide above and beyond services during the pandemic even while going through personal changes.

Robert Longest

VA Cooperative Extension - Essex County

Robbie has created webinar based agriculture seminars for farmers and agricultural workers of Essex County as well as participants from neighboring counties. He has continued to promote Virginia Cooperative Extension as a reliable resource for individuals within the Agriculture community. Additionally, he provided access to multiple programs for the farmers of Essex and neighboring counties to include counties that do not have an agricultural agent at this time.

Office of the University Registrar

Enrollment Management, Office of the Provost

Through their hard work and dedication to the students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech, crucial operations have continued to be offered. Specifically related to the pandemic, the office adjusted the course schedule multiple times, designed the layout of all general assignment classrooms to meet social distancing requirements, moved the university curricular governance process online, and adapted undergraduate diploma distribution from in-person to mail for over 5,000 students.

Alyssa McKenney

Continuing & Professional Education

In this past pandemic year, the Continuing & Professional Education team has pulled together to create innovative virtual programs and has truly proven that there is no “I” in team. Alyssa works diligently to keep the managers and coordinators from veering off the complex financial and administrative path. She is our Wikipedia of policies and procedures; she corrects our mistakes, watches our backs, trains new staff, and finds new ways to streamline our tasks. The challenges of working remotely during the past year have been much easier with Alyssa’s consistent support and guidance.

Harris Manufacturing Processes Lab

Grado Department of Industrial  & Systems Engineering, College of Engineering

This team has taught in person, hands on manufacturing engineering lab classes for two semesters now so that ISE students would not miss the experience that ISE graduates consistently say was their favorite course. In spring 2020, the entire team pivoted to online instruction and made videos to cover the remaining labs. In summer 2020, the team prepared for face-to-face lab instruction, working with department and university officials to put safety measures in place. They have worked tirelessly without complaint this last year to ensure students get the very best educational lab experience possible.

Office of Assessment and Evaluation

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

This small team of two has given countless hours to ensure rigor and equity in assessments, and adapted when several of the customizable services we typically use for assessments were unavailable or significantly changed. They absorbed these modifications gracefully, even when it meant increased time and work load for every exam given. This was all in addition to the ongoing collection of programmatic evaluation data and other tasks that needed rapid modification to address the needs of the pandemic.

Richard Johnston and Roderick Andrews DeHart

College of Engineering

Thank you for all your help with Whittemore 457A and 457B, Mr. Johnston and Mr. DeHart!

EngE 1216 Instructional and Frith Lab Team

College of Engineering

This team has worked incredibly hard to provide a hands-on learning experience for first year engineering students. When classes transitioned to mostly online, we wanted to maintain a hands-on element for students to break up the monotony of online learning. Accomplishing this included creating and assembling materials into kits and arranging both in-person pick up and shipping of kits to 2,000+ students. While faculty was struggling with pandemic exhaustion and could have taken an easier path, they instead put forth an incredible effort to provide the best possible learning experience for students.

Katrina Lasley

Biological Sciences, College of Science

Katrina helped keep the Microbiology labs in person by redesigning the whole laboratory space and providing PPE. This allowed students to remain safely distanced from one another while learning.

Christina Ruszczyk-Murray

VA Cooperative Extension - King
William/King and Queen County

Christina has consistently created multiple 4-H programs for the youth of King and Queen County and King William County as well as schools within the counties during this pandemic. She has continued to promote 4-H to the community via webinars and directed programs and club interaction all while maintaining a safe environment.

Megan Coulter and Robin Hypes

Enrollment Management, Office of the Provost

Megan and Robin helped with obtaining COVID-19 reduced capacities for classrooms and furniture removal for classrooms. They also scheduled and found rooms for all classes while having to constantly change and redo previously completed work due to changing requirements, restrictions, and professor preferences. There was so much work that had to be completed behind the scenes, but they were always positive and on top of things.

Laura Lehmann

Department of Biological Systems Engineering, College of Engineering and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 

Laura supervised the initial shutdown of Seitz Hall laboratories, worked with graduate students to develop at-home research options, and assisted with the university-wide 3D PPE printing effort. Eventually, Laura oversaw PPE ordering and distribution, developed COVID-19 SOP templates and an automated contact tracing system, and reviewed all laboratory SOPs to ensure consistent safety protocols were developed and followed.

Sarah Clinton

School of Neuroscience, College of Science

Her class has been one of my favorite classes, not only of the semester, but of the entire neuroscience curriculum. The class is very engaging and motivates me to keep going.

Becky Gunn

Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health

Becky has done a fantastic job keeping our students on track with course planning, plans of study, and program progress during COVID-19. She always makes sure rooms are set up for class, keeps students up-to-date with things to do around Roanoke and Blacksburg, and in hard times, keeps the students spirits up with keeping them moving forward. TBMH could not run as successfully as it has without Becky!

Virtual Event team

Continuing and Professional Education

This remarkable team put their heads together and took a deep dive into the world of virtual events. They read articles, participated in demos, held trial and error training sessions, and immersed themselves in the virtual event world. In short, they became Zoom experts! This team embraced the challenge and met it head on. To-date, the team has successfully delivered more than 150 virtual learning events, with more on the way!

Dr. Carla Finkielstein

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

Dr. Finkielstein demonstrates Ut Prosim by her tireless work in the lab studying COVID-19 efforts for the Commonwealth. Dr. Finkielstein is currently assisting two countries on their knowledge and implementation of COVID-19 testing; one in Africa and another in the Baltic states. She works tirelessly and is mission focused while always being receptive to more.


Campus life and Student Affairs

Student Conduct

Division of Student Affairs

As the pandemic raised significant concerns about community health and safety, the Student Conduct team worked with university leadership to identify policies and procedures for enforcing public health measures and educating students about the ways their decisions impact others. Over the past year, the team has partnered closely with the Blacksburg Police Department, the Dean of Students office, and Housing and Residence Life to address concerns about student gatherings and other public health issues. This has contributed to the university's ability to provide students a safe, on-campus experience. Throughout it all, the team has maintained an ongoing commitment to fostering student learning, development, and engagement.

Cook Counseling Center Clinical Services, Crisis Outreach, and Animal Assisted Therapy Teams

Division of Student Affairs

The Cook Counseling Clinical Services team quickly came together when the university pivoted to a primarily online presence to establish policies, procure equipment, train staff and transform clinical services to a telehealth model. A small group of staff (10) continued to come to work every day to ensure students who were in crisis could be seen in person for stabilization and treatment. As the pandemic progressed, the outreach team developed virtual programs and workshops on varied aspects of mental health to provide synchronous and asynchronous experiences for students. The animal assisted therapy team developed virtual and in-person events for students highlighting the 4 therapy dogs as a way to connect to students and bring joy.

Marcie Fleischer

Division of Student Affairs

As someone who is literally on the front lines of the pandemic, Marcie is often the first person people see or speak with at the Schiffert Health Center. She has dealt with sick, scared, and upset students, parents, faculty, and staff all while remaining stalwart for months on end while putting her own health (and the health of her family) on the line. She is a hero in every sense of the word. Marcie is the kind of person who shies away from attention, preferring to highlight others, but enough of that! It's time she got the recognition she deserves.

Amanda Eagan

Division of Student Affairs

Amanda has been a champion in serving our students that have been in quarantine or isolation. With her diligence, organization, and prompt response times, our students have been well served and well supported. With her leadership, all of this was possible, and she has done an amazing job!

Chris Wise, Rhonda Mitcham, Kanitta Charoensiri, and the Schiffert Health Center team

Division of Student Affairs

The Schiffert Health Center team has tested thousands of students and employees in the past year and worked incredibly long hours during doing so, at times up to 60-80 hours per week.

Operations team

Student Engagement and Campus Life, Division of Student Affairs

This team did hours of physical labor and behind the scenes planning last summer to ensure our student centers provided safe spaces for students to study, eat, and spend time on campus. They continue to provide a consistent experience for visitors to the building and enforce safety protocols while specifically caring for their student staff members who are on the front lines of serving students.

Joy Hottenstein, Jenny Dye, and Bethany Rallis

Division of Student Affairs

Joy, Jenny, and Bethany led the effort to transform the Cook Counseling Center from an in-person model to a primarily telehealth model. They rewrote policies, explored best practices, and made sure we could continue to serve our students without interruption.

Housing & Residence Life

Division of Student Affairs

Housing & Residence Life made a number of decisions regarding housing assignments and staffing as they closed some buildings to make space to house students who needed to isolate or quarantine. They worked, and continue to work, every night and every weekend to call students who needed to isolate or quarantine, ensure they were given meals, and provide clean sheets and towels as well as snacks and other basic items in their isolation/quarantine room. They have truly gone above and beyond during this pandemic to ensure our students experience Virginia Tech!

Amy Epperley

Hokie Wellness, Division of Human Resources

Amy has been instrumental in coordinating the availability and accessibility regarding logistics of COVID-19 testing for our students and employees. She has served on the COVID-19 Case Management Team during the pandemic and has been a valuable resource during this unprecedented time.

Athletics COVID-19 Testing Team

Virginia Tech Athletics

This team has been responsible for scheduling, setting up, checking in, and at times, actually doing the swabbing for over 600 student-athletes and 200+ staff since June. They are also responsible for reporting the testing results and communicating with the student-athletes, parents and campus and local authorities. Because of their efforts, student-athletes were able to represent Virginia Tech in over 150 events with only a few cancellations or postponements. More importantly, they have prevented the additional spread and severity of COVID-19 within our community and have had zero hospitalizations to date.

University Scholarships and Financial Aid

Enrollment Management, Office of the Provost

Throughout the pandemic and with limited on campus staffing, USFA maintained its high level of student support by ensuring the timely and accurate delivery of student financial aid. USFA has been instrumental in developing and implementing the university's plans for disbursing emergency aid to students received from the CARES and CRRSAA Acts so that these funds get into the hands of students who need it most.

Student Financial Aid team

Office of University Scholarships & Financial Aid

The Student Financial Aid team has served our student population throughout the pandemic by maximizing the impact of university aid programs, leveraging 3 federal stimulus programs to disburse over $40 million of need-based aid to our students, and working to package financial aid for incoming freshmen to meet the university's enrollment goals. Even as they issued almost twice as much need-based aid this year than in a normal year, the team has done so without complaint, and willingly fulfilled this critical responsibility.

Charlotte Amenkhienan and the Outreach team

Division of Student Affairs

The Outreach team, led by Charlotte Amenkhienan, has developed many different virtual offerings for workshops, as well as other virtual resources for students. Their work has provided students, staff, and faculty a myriad of resources to improve and maintain mental health throughout the pandemic.

Emily Holt

Division of Student Affairs

Student support both educational and emotional has been critical over the past year. Emily has re-thought the delivery of support services including individual meetings and peer tutoring to be available and tangible for the campus. She has balanced the increased needs of our learners while continuing to provide unparalleled support. Mental and emotional well-being has been challenging for many, and Emily has been a true student advocate throughout this difficult time.

Brittany Shelton and her team, Linda Eaton and Kathy Radford

Division of Student Affairs

For the last few months, Brittany Shelton and her team, Linda Eaton and Kathy Radford, have been tasked with scheduling, facilitating, and communicating COVID-19 vaccines to the Student Affairs' essential workers, and at the end of March, student-workers. They have worked tirelessly to accommodate everyone, to the best of their ability, to ensure that a large population of the Virginia Tech campus community got their vaccines. They have been fortunate to partner with others doing parallel work in their respective areas, however, this trio has done phenomenal work for Student Affairs and should be recognized for their time, effort, and steadfast resolve. Well done!

Dr. Martha Glass

Division of Student Affairs

Dr. Martha Glass has worked to organize and lead many new processes related to COVID-19. She has partnered with groups and individuals across the university with the goal of providing better care for students. Based on feedback, she has led the creation of new innovations, including a new student advocate role, front desks, outdoor time, and deliveries. In February when there was a rise of cases, Dr. Glass stepped in and took on students as a Student Advocate. She was the one making daily phone calls, inputting case notes, and requesting items on their behalf. Noting the rise in cases, she advocated to hire more Student Advocates from the community, which brought in alumni and other community members all with the end goal of helping students succeed. She is a wonderful leader, not just based on her title, but she is such a strong, caring role model who I look up to.

University Libraries Services Desk team

University Libraries

This team stayed until all of Virginia Tech shut down in order to provide services to the community. They were some of the first people back in the building when it reopened, and since then they've staffed the Services Desk and provided no-contact checkout.

Student Engagement and Campus Life team

Division of Student Affairs

This team has kept the student centers open, clean, and accessible for the duration of the pandemic. Even with multiple job vacancies, the entire team stepped up to make sure students had spaces, services, and programs to help create and maintain connections. Multiple team members have not only assumed additional responsibilities, but also volunteered for other university initiatives such as staffing the isolation residence halls.


Linda Hazelwood

College of Engineering

Linda served as a mentor and expert in social media, and shared information with other departments to help raise the profiles of other groups within the College of Engineering. Linda also worked tirelessly to deliver virtual events and meetups for students and alumni in the midst of the pandemic, achieving a level of engagement that few others reached.

Travis Williams, Jenny Boone, and Richard Lovegrove

University Relations

This team has worked closely with colleagues to ensure that the most up-to-date and accurate information is communicated across university platforms. Early in the pandemic, they drafted copy for PSAs, the Ready site, and many other platforms to keep university audiences informed of the latest news on pandemic guidelines and other developments. They drafted stories to highlight, covered town halls, panel discussions, and other meetings, edited stories from other communicators, and stepped in with extra help as needed. All of this was performed in addition to their regular responsibilities. They supported each other by keeping work moving as well as offering kindnesses.

Brad Soucy

University Relations

Brad and his team spearheaded the design and development of This website hosts an abundant amount of resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic for all students, employees, and the community. He, and the web and communications teams, have worked tirelessly for a year to create and maintain this body of work.

Fairen Horner

University Relations

Fairen has worked throughout the pandemic to manage Virginia Tech social media accounts. Her work has allowed the university community to stay informed throughout the ever-changing circumstances presented by COVID-19.

Laurie Stacy and Denise Crawford

Division of Human Resources

The HR communications team has exhibited the utmost commitment to the university and its employees throughout COVID-19. Their flexibility and resiliency have been admirable - especially in an ever-changing communications environment. They have navigated complicated telework, vaccine, and wellness communications with great skill. Kudos!

Kristen Abell

Division of Student Affairs

Kristen was new to the university when the pandemic began, but she hit the ground running and quickly became an integral part of the emergency communications team. From day one, Kristen has been collaborating strongly with central communicators and acting as a liaison between multiple departments and levels of leadership. She's one of those people who is literally doing everything, but she'll say "what do you need?" and take on more. She's only been at Virginia Tech a short amount of time, but has made a big impact.

Dawn Jefferies and the Creative Studio

University Relations

This team has gone above and beyond in pivoting their workload to support all departments of Advancement. This virtual world of events and fundraising wouldn't be possible without their determination and support.

Lisa Martin

Reynolds Homestead

Lisa has been diligent in keeping the Reynolds Homestead front and center in the public eye. Over the course of the year, she has set up several virtual art exhibits, hosted a successful online craft fair, and planned and implemented a huge soup sale garnishing over $2,000 for the county food bank.

Tracy Vosburgh

University Relations

Tracy heads up University Relations, a communications machine for the university that has been stretched to its limits and beyond in the past year. Tracy tirelessly moves from boots-on-the-ground tactical work to high-level leadership strategic conversations; she somehow has boundless energy, and even when things are at their toughest, still moves forward.

Lisa Roland

Outreach and International Affairs

Since March 2020, the Virginia Tech Richmond Center has not been open to the public, and staff and faculty have worked remotely. Lisa has embraced the opportunity to redefine her role, working with university alumni, area businesses, and government partners to advance our outreach and engagement initiatives in the greater Richmond region. Lisa has developed new technical skills and has continually pushed beyond her comfort zone to support large virtual conferences, coordinate high-profile events, and collaborate with local and university contacts on complex projects. Beyond all she has been assigned, Lisa shows initiative in identifying and meeting emerging needs in our community. She works with heart and determination, and she has been a key contributor to successes at the Richmond Center during the pandemic.

Alexa Briehl

Administrative and Business Services Portfolio; Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure and Facilities

Alexa is an extraordinary communications partner, and I don't think central University Relations communications would have survived in the last year without her teamwork. She has her fingers in so many areas of the university's operations, and she's been able to quickly move from topic to topic, finding answers where needed, staying organized, and communicating information with the broader community. Because she's great at what she does, it made things a lot easier for a lot of other people.

Alex Parrish

Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering

Alex has been instrumental in developing a strategy for mechanical engineering's online presence. His expertise in delivering information in a way that is interesting and engaging has allowed us to communicate more effectively with potential students and collaborators.

MacKenzie Tyree

Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health

MacKenzie has been the outward face of TBMH for prospective students — a very difficult task during a pandemic! She keeps them engaged and always has a warm demeanor. She organizes Peer Mentoring and makes sure the contracts are correct so they all get paid! TBMH could not run successfully without MacKenzie!