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Profiles in excellence at MIT

Nineteen to receive Excellence Awards
Recipient of MIT's Bringing Out the Best award, Coach Paul Dill leads his volleyball players to victory on the court but also prepares them to succeed in their lives after MIT.
Recipient of MIT's Bringing Out the Best award, Coach Paul Dill leads his volleyball players to victory on the court but also prepares them to succeed in their lives after MIT.
Photo / Donna Coveney
Coordinator of Registration Services Shirley Thompson will be honored with MIT's Serving the Client award.
Coordinator of Registration Services Shirley Thompson will be honored with MIT's Serving the Client award.
Photo / Donna Coveney

MIT is known for bringing out the best in its students academically, but that ambition also applies to athletics.

MIT's men's and women's volleyball teams have achieved stellar success in recent years, and much of the credit goes to Coach Paul Dill, who will receive a 2008 Excellence Award for Bringing Out the Best.

"MIT Volleyball wouldn't be the high-quality program it is today without the tireless effort of Coach Dill," said MIT senior Ryan Dean, a team member who nominated Dill 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.

Dill, who has coached the women's team for 12 years and men's team for five years, teaches his players to set goals, take personal responsibility and become leaders. To his players, he is more than just a coach. According to Dean, "He is also a source of inspiration, a person to go to for advice and someone all his players can depend on."

Dill's teams often end the season with a national ranking, but according to Stephen Immerman, who also nominated Dill, his success is not all about winning. Though his teams post winning records, his real achievement is giving his players the skills they need to succeed in their post-MIT careers.

"He agrees winning is nice, but he knows that students at MIT don't come here to become professional athletes. They come to achieve great things personally and academically--to excel. He knows his role in athletics is to give students tools they take with them after they leave MIT, tools they can [use to] achieve their dreams, become leaders and succeed in whatever they choose to pursue," said Immerman, senior associate dean for student development, who recently served as interim head of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation.

Shirley Thompson, coordinator of registration services in the Registrar's Office, will also be honored with an Excellence Award, in the Serving the Client category.

Thompson processes grades, registration forms and add-drop forms, and handles cross-registration with Harvard. Despite that huge volume of work, she is always cheerfully available to help with any registration or other academic issue, according to colleagues who nominated her for the award.

"Shirley is a very humble person who is unfailingly courteous to students, faculty and staff and can always be counted on to answer everyone's questions without hesitation in person, by phone or by e-mail," said Gary King, undergraduate administrator in the Department of Economics.

Even during high-stress times such as Reg Day, Thompson is always ready and willing to help anyone who needs assistance with complicated problems.

"She is dependable, warm and friendly under all circumstances, even the most distressed. She clearly puts the needs of those she serves over her own needs again and again, and with unfailing good cheer. And she's always right," said Shannon Larkin, graduate administrator for the program in writing and humanistic studies.

"I was extremely impressed that on fall term Reg Day this year, I must have called Shirley 20 times. If you can believe it, in the midst of this chaotic day, Shirley answered her phone every time, was never aggravated or agitated. She provided me and my students excellent service that day, as she does every day," said Janet Fischer, graduate administrator in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The Excellence Awards ceremony will be held Feb. 26 in Kresge Auditorium, with opening remarks from President Susan Hockfield and a keynote address from Deborah Fitzgerald, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. 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.

Excellence Awards winners:

Fostering Community: Ronald J. Legere, technical staff, Tactical Defense Systems, Lincoln Laboratory; Anthony Pelletier, office assistant I, Department of Mathematics, School of Science.

Serving the Client: Theresa Benevento, administrative assistant II, Department of Economics, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Doris Lannoy Inslee, human resources professional, Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, School of Engineering; M. Jennifer Walsh, senior human resources officer, Labor and Employee Relations, Human Resources Department; Shirley Thompson, coordinator of registration services, Registrar's Office, Dean for Undergraduate Education; Visitor Reception Services Team: Karen Allen, administrative staff, Dollina Borella, security coordinator, Roslyn Wesley, administrative staff, Thomas J. Zech, administrative staff, Security Services Department, Lincoln Laboratory.

Creating Connections: Theresa A. Tobin, head librarian, Humanities Library, MIT Libraries; Joshua Schuler, executive director, Lemelson/MIT Program, School of Engineering.

Innovative Solutions: Margarita Hiett, associate staff, Space Systems Analysis, Lincoln Laboratory; Alison Hynd, IDEAS competition and fellowship coordinator, Public Service Center, Division of Student Life,

Bringing Out the Best: Paul Dill, Varsity volleyball coach, DAPER Intercollegiate Sports, Division of Student Life; Ellen W. Faran, director, MIT Press.

Unsung Hero: James M. Daley, project technician, Research Laboratory of Electronics; James Dunn, technical staff, Tactical Defense Systems, Lincoln Laboratory; Gary A. Hackett, administrative staff, Human Resources Department, Lincoln Laboratory.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 13, 2008 (download PDF).

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