There are undoubtedly many unsung heroes at MIT, but one who stands out will receive this year's Excellence Award in the Unsung Hero category: Gary Pascucci, a driver at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
Pascucci not only knows his way around and delivers Lincoln Lab guests and employees to their destinations on time, he is courteous, easy-going and endlessly reliable, according to Lincoln Lab employees who nominated him for the award.
The annual Excellence Awards, part of MIT's Rewards and Recognition program, acknowledge innovation, leadership, collaboration, dedication, outreach, inclusiveness, service and results. The program is designed to recognize individuals and teams for their exceptional contributions to their office, department or school--or to the Institute as a whole.
Lincoln employees who nominated Pascucci said that he is unfailingly cheerful, dedicated and professional, no matter what the circumstances.
"In his position as a transportation driver he must contend with elements beyond his control on a daily basis, such as traffic jams, road construction, weather, mechanical breakdowns and, perhaps most importantly, the Massachusetts driver," wrote Bill Ustaszewski, an administrative group leader at Lincoln Lab.
Pascucci is always willing to do whatever needs to be done, changing his personal plans to accommodate unexpected emergencies and making sure that all visitors to Lincoln Laboratory have an enjoyable and safe experience, according to employees who nominated him. They also describe him as a skilled driver who is both dependable and pleasant.
"When it comes to assisting others and making sure that the job gets done, the word 'no' is not in Gary's vocabulary," wrote Ustaszewski.
"He is a top level employee of Lincoln Laboratory," wrote Barbara Raymond and Liz Whalen of the Lincoln director's office. "(We are) proud that VIPs and others first encounter an exemplary employee of whom we can be proud."
Janet Fischer, special assistant in the Office of the Provost, will also be honored with an Excellence Award, in the Fostering Community category. Fischer's work centers on building community among postdocs, grad students and prospective grad students, according to the MIT employees who nominated her.
Several nominators said Fischer's work has had a major impact on increasing MIT's diversity when it comes to underrepresented minority students.
Fischer plans and runs the annual Converge weekend, which draws prospective minority students, and also works on the MIT Summer Research Program, which offers minority students from other colleges the chance to do research at MIT during the summer.
Fischer's colleague, Joan O'Brien, who also works in the provost's office, nominated Fischer for the award to make sure "Janet's tenacity and hard work on Converge" would be acknowledged when MIT's minority student statistics increase. "This is why I would like for her to be acknowledged by the MIT community now," O'Brien wrote.
Assistant Dean for Graduate Students Christopher Jones, who works with Fischer on Converge and also nominated her for an Excellence Award, said the program has been highly successful in changing attitudes within MIT and helping prospective students feel at home at the Institute.
Fischer was also instrumental in establishing the MIT Postdoctoral Scholars Advisory Council, which was launched four years ago to help build a stronger community and support network among postdoctoral researchers.
"Postdocs across the Institute now feel they have more of a community and a place to turn for help largely because of Janet's efforts and dedication," wrote Marilyn Smith, special projects director in the Office of the Vice President for Research.
The Excellence Awards ceremony will be held Feb. 28 in Kresge Auditorium, with opening remarks from President Susan Hockfield and a keynote address from Associate Provost Philip S. Khoury. Refreshments will be served beginning at 11:30 a.m., and the awards presentation will start at noon, followed by a reception at 1 p.m.
Complete list of Excellence Awards recipients
Fostering Community: Janet E. Fischer, special assistant, Office of the Provost, and Helen Rose, associate director, Office of Development Research and Systems, Resource Development.
Creating Connections: Edward Moriarty, technical instructor, Edgerton Center; Christopher Resto, administrative director, Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP), School of Engineering; Daniel A. Trujillo, associate dean, Community Development and Substance Abuse Program, Dean for Student Life.
Bringing Out the Best: Jim Harrington, facilities manager, School of Architecture & Planning; Ronald Hasseltine, assistant dean, School of Science.
Serving the Client: Joseph F. Connolly, assistant director for administration, Research Laboratory of Electronics; Anne Deveau, administrative assistant, History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art, School of Architecture; Anne C. Maloney, senior stock clerk, Laboratory for Nuclear Science, School of Science; Cynthia McLain, associate staff, Group 62, Information Systems Technology Group, Lincoln Laboratory; Dieter Willner, senior staff, Group 34, Intelligence, Test and Evaluation Group, Lincoln Laboratory.
Innovative Solutions: Sabin Dang, technical assistant, McGovern Institute for Brain Research; Christine L. Moulen, library systems manager, MIT Libraries.
Unsung Heroes: Gary Pascucci, driver procurement and travel services, Lincoln Laboratory; George V. Petrowsky, systems administrator, Information Services & Technology; Patricia Shea, administrative staff, Group 61, Net-centric Integration Group, Lincoln Laboratory.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 14, 2007 (download PDF).