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2012 Ella Reagle Staff Assistant Award

Posted: November 7, 2012

Interim Dean Barbara Christ with Juanita Wolfe, winner of the 2012 Ella Reagle Staff Assistant Award

Interim Dean Barbara Christ with Juanita Wolfe, winner of the 2012 Ella Reagle Staff Assistant Award

The following text is a reprint of the remarks made by Staff Advisory Committee to the Dean Chair Keith Diehl at the presentation of the 2012 Ella Reagle Staff Assistant Award during the College-wide All-staff Meeting on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. This year's award was presented by Interim Dean Barbara Christ to Juanita Wolfe of the Department of Food Science.

Today, we have the honor of bestowing the 2012 Ella Reagle Staff Assistant Award on a person selected from an incredible pool of well-qualified nominees. This year's selection committee faced the same daunting task that has engaged all prior selection committees: evaluate these nomination packets with a fine-toothed comb and select the person that embodies the best of the best among our college staff assistants. It really is a daunting task! Each of the nominations submitted were already given their department's stamp of approval as the best. The selection committee had to take it one step further and decide who is the best from among this list of exemplary and well-qualified employees.
   Our award namesake, Ella Reagle, was hired in August 1962 under then-dean, Russ Larson. Tom King was director of cooperative extension. Ella was responsible for processing all extension employment documents and payroll. Ella Reagle crossed paths with everyone working in extension.
   It was Ella's integrity and commitment to her job that garnered her the respect and admiration of faculty, staff, and administrators. She was a perfectionist and expected no less from those with whom she worked.
   An excellent mentor and role model, Ella passed away in November 1998. This annual award, presented today, was established and endowed by Ella's family to honor her for thirty years of exemplary service to the college and to cooperative extension.
   The recipient of the Ella Reagle Staff Assistant Award for 2012 is Juanita Wolfe from the Department of Food Science.
   Today's award recipient can certainly be described with the same words associated with Ella—integrity, commitment, mentor, role model— and she, too, receives similar respect and admiration from faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Juanita was described in statements made by her nominator as being the keystone behind the department's student support; she possesses extensive knowledge in all areas of undergraduate and graduate programs and is the primary point of contact for faculty and students alike; she is motivated to provide outstanding service and is focused on the support of faculty, staff, and students; she exhibits great initiative in seeing potential conflicts and taking action to resolve them before they occur; and she serves with concern and respect for all. 
   The nominator continued, "Once aboard, our students quickly realize that Mrs. Wolfe is their strongest advocate and an important resource within the department as they navigate their way through course scheduling, internship and co-op opportunities, administrative issues, and sometimes a surrogate parent as the student continues to mature into adulthood."
   Another writer tells of her outstanding work ethic and that it was a rare day to find an error in the volumes of work she produced. And another writer penned that Juanita is regarded as the cornerstone of the department's effective student programs, and that she has made a difference in the lives of the students—from first contact to first employment after graduation.
   A student writer says that Juanita was the first to welcome her to Penn State when she was a senior in high school. Juanita helped her make the decision to attend Penn State and reassured her parents that the College of Ag Sciences was the place for their daughter.
   Another student writes that Juanita was was the calming influence he needed as an incoming freshman, that she was the person to go to when a "what do I do now?" moment occurs, and was the proverbial glue that binds. 
   Juanita joined the department of Food Science in June 1999, after spending nine years in student support work for the Economics department. Since joining Food Science, Juanita has been responsible for both undergraduate and graduate student support operations, working with students during the entire span of their Penn State experience and beyond. She is an active 4-H leader, a band booster, and also works with the Food Science Club.
   In closing, I'll quote once again from her nominator's letter: "I have always found Juanita caring and approachable. She cares deeply about the students and this is reflected in comments I receive from both graduate and undergraduate students on a regular basis. In fact, during a recent graduate student exit interview, I asked 'From your perspective, what one thing would you recommend we do to improve our department?' The student's response: 'Clone Juanita."
   Congratulations, Juanita!