People who regularly go above and beyond the requirements of their jobs — providing exceptional service, help, and encouragement to their colleagues and community — often receive little formal recognition for their outstanding efforts.
MIT annually presents a series of Excellence Awards to honor such dedicated work; this year, for the first time, the awards expanded to include the Collier Medal, in memory of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in the line of duty last April 18. This award will be given annually to an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Collier exhibited as a member of the MIT community.
Fittingly, the first Collier Medal went to the 56 volunteers, mostly students, who operate MIT Emergency Medical Services (MIT EMS), a student-run ambulance service. Many MIT EMS members were close friends of Collier, and some were called upon to transport the wounded officer to Massachusetts General Hospital after last year’s shooting.
“Last year, through circumstances none of us will ever forget, Officer Collier gave his life protecting our community,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif said yesterday in presenting the Collier Medal. “So that his spirit will live on at MIT, this is a fresh opportunity to express our gratitude that he lived and worked among us.”
MIT EMS, Reif said, exemplifies “a distinct MIT blend of leadership and problem-solving. The time, energy and expertise they make available goes far beyond what is expected of a student group. … They even designed a new ambulance, which is one of the safest in the country.”
Collier, Reif said, had worked closely with MIT EMS volunteers, and “wrote a letter praising them, months before his death.” He added, “It is with full hearts and the deepest appreciation that the members of MIT EMS are receiving the recognition they deserve.”
The annual awards ceremony, held yesterday in Kresge Auditorium, presented a variety of awards to members of the staffs of MIT and Lincoln Laboratories, in six different categories. Twelve members of MIT Medical received “Sustaining MIT” awards in recognition of the highly efficient flu clinics they mounted, which succeeded this winter in getting 25 percent of the MIT community vaccinated.
Four individuals and three teams were recognized as “Unsung Heroes,” and five others received awards for “Serving the Client.” Senior admissions counselor Chris Peterson received an award for “Innovative Solutions,” in recognition of a creative video production he led. Three others received awards for “Bringing Out the Best,” and 12 others were recognized for “Advancing Inclusion and Global Perspectives.”
A surprise award was added at the end, in recognition of MIT’s outgoing vice president for human resources, Alison Alden, who is retiring after seven years at the Institute.
Excellence Award recipients are nominated by their peers, and selected following careful evaluation by a committee of MIT staffers. Recipients receive a cash award of $2,000 and a snow globe containing a replica of MIT’s Building 10 — and often a cheering, pompom-waving ovation from colleagues in the audience.