Twenty-two employees with a collective 301 years of service were nominated for the 2023 President’s Award for Excellence. These employees were recognized during a ceremony on April 20, where President Tim Sands announced the winners. Each winner receives a letter of commendation from the president, a certificate, and a $2,000 pre-tax award.

The President’s Award for Excellence, established in 1990 by President James D. McComas, is an annual recognition of full-time staff for their outstanding contributions and consistently excellent performance for Virginia Tech.

“The President's Award for Excellence acknowledges exceptional achievements and unparalleled commitment to Virginia Tech’s mission and vision,” Sands said. “These individuals have shown extraordinary dedication and an innovative spirit, and we are deeply grateful for their service to the university.”

The 2023 President’s Award recipients are:

photo of 2023 President’s Award for Excellence winner
Stephanie Breeding

Stephanie Breeding, financial aid advisor in the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid, has worked for Virginia Tech since 1998.

Beth Armstrong, associate vice president for enrollment management and director for financial aid, wrote in her letter of nomination: “Stephanie provides the highest level of service to our students, families, and colleagues across campus every day. She is never too busy to help a student or their family. She will drop what she is doing to assist a colleague in the office or across campus and picks right back up where she left off with her tasks and responsibilities.”

photo of 2023 President’s Award for Excellence winner
Rich Charles

Richard “Rich” Charles, technical lead for the Department of Computer Science, has worked for Virginia Tech since 2008.

Calvin Ribbens, head of the computer science department, wrote in a letter of nomination: “Rich has been a core member of our leadership team as we navigate the many challenges of the Tech Talent Pipeline project. In the last three years alone, he has helped onboard and set up research infrastructure for 32 new faculty members. Rich has also spent countless hours serving as our chief technical representative in the planning meetings for three new buildings: Data and Decision Sciences, Gilbert Street, and the Innovation Campus Academic Building 1.”

photo of 2023 President’s Award for Excellence winner
Jeffrey Orzolek

Jeffrey Orzolek, administrative coordinator for Capital Construction, has worked for Virginia Tech since 2017.

Paul Ely, associate director of capital construction, wrote in a letter of nomination: “In 2021, Jeff volunteered to take on the responsibilities of the position of program coordinator for the Office of University Planning (in addition to his own) to help that unit continue to function. In addition, he took on responsibilities for budget reconciliations as well as the review and approval for purchase and travel requests for both OUP and Capital Construction. Jeff has been able to balance the responsibilities of these two different positions and at the same time provide a new level of connection between these two units that need to work closely on a daily basis.”

photo of 2023 President’s Award for Excellence winner
Michelle Raines

Michelle Raines, administrative manager for the School of Performing Arts (SOPA), has worked for Virginia Tech since 1991.

Professor Patricia Raun and Jeffrey Loeffert, professor and director of the School of Performing Arts, wrote in a letter of nomination: “In 2022, SOPA was the only academic unit to move into the newly restructured College of Architecture, Arts, and Design, requiring shifts in all faculty lines, adopting new policies, and adapting to new administrative processes — and Michelle has been the administrative facilitator of all of that change within the school. Michelle sees challenges and addresses them; she takes initiative and works efficiently — and as a result she makes things look easy.”

photo of 2023 President’s Award for Excellence winner
Paula Stith

Paula Stith, administrative and program support for the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, has worked for Virginia Tech since 1988.

Dawn Bradbury, post award grant coordinator for the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, wrote in a letter of nomination: “Paula is incredibly dedicated to the success of the faculty and staff in the biomedical sciences and pathobiology department. She conquers each challenge with a positive attitude, and her willingness to take on any task presented to her is truly remarkable. She is constantly improving her skill set by participating in training that furthers her knowledge of Virginia Tech’s procedures and processes. Her support extends to the Virginia Tech community as well, through participating in research studies, committees, and performances.”

photo of 2023 President’s Award for Excellence nominees.
2023 President’s Award for Excellence nominees. Photo by Charlie Whitescarver for Virginia Tech.

In addition to this year’s winners, congratulations to the following 2023 President’s Award for Excellence nominees:

  •  Victoria Baker, fiscal technician, School of Education
  • Miranda Brooks, senior administrative assistant, Dean of Business Office
  •  Amanda Collins, financial services coordinator, mechanical engineering
  •  Allen Compton, access control supervisor, special operations/events
  •  Mae Early-Wilmer, graduate program coordinator and office manager, sociology
  • Michelle Huff, grants specialist, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
  • Paige Muchler, lead housekeeper, Facilities Operations-Housekeeping
  • Katelyn Muldoon, water resources specialist, Infrastructure Engineering Operations
  • Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ogle, insurance specialist, Human Resources
  • Dreama Price, executive assistant to the department head, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Adam Sallade, HR systems coordinator, Human Resources
  • Brandon Shaver, housekeeper, Facilities Operations-Housekeeping
  • Pamela “PJ” Shepherd, research specialist senior, Southern Piedmont Agricutural Research and Education Center
  • Justin Sheppard, quarry assistant manager, Facilities Operations-Quarry
  • Courtney Snead, lab specialist, Small Animal Clinical Services
  • Robert Viers, classroom AV building AV manager, registrar
  • Christopher “Brock” Whitlock, electrician, Facilities Operations

For more information about the President’s Award, including information on this year’s winners and nominees, visit this page. For information on past award winners, visit this page

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