Musical staff

Gaston named WT Employee of the Year; Staff veterans honored at celebration – The Amarillo Pioneer

A diligent planner responsible for some of West Texas A&M University’s most artistic events was named Employee of the Year at a June 14 celebration.

Lauren Gaston, a 4.5-year WT veteran, won a cash prize, free parking for a year and more at the WT All-Staff Service Awards, held June 14 at Legacy Hall at the interior of the Jack B. Kelley Student Center.

Gaston was voted Employee of the Year by faculty and other staff from a group of 12 other employees of the month. Two staff members were named employees of the month in August.

“WT has been a home for me for many years, first as a student and now in my professional career,” Gaston said. “It’s a privilege to work with so many great people; they make WT a truly special place. I’m extremely humbled and honored by this award and grateful to be passionate about WT.”

Gaston is the Community Activities and Events Coordinator for the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities, responsible for planning events throughout the college, particularly in the History Department.

“Lauren takes great pride in ensuring that any event she works on truly showcases the department or college,” Dean Dr. Jessica Mallard wrote in a letter of appointment. “She is very enthusiastic and that enthusiasm spreads to everyone in the office.”

Dane Glenn, president of the WT Staff Council, praised Gaston for his reliability.

“If there’s a college project or event going on, Lauren is definitely the woman behind the curtain in our maroon and white decked Oz,” Glenn said. “She is always ready to help and make anyone or anything shine to the fullest. Safe and reliable are not strong enough words.

Gaston’s colleagues of the month included Chance Haugen, then director of the JBK Student Center; Amanda Rogers, Admissions; Stanley Pena, Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance; Jennifer Denham, Office of Teacher Preparation; Chris Morgan, business office; Mickie Scantling, Purchasing; Alyssa Mince, printing; Andrea Porter, Director of Advanced Studies; LuAnne Rickwartz, Director of Student Medical Services; Andy Kraus, information technology; Meri Lyn Odell, University Police Department; and Mary Rausch, Cornette Library.

During the lunch, all employees who have worked at WT for a significant number of years were also recognized:

  • Forty years: Ernie Foreman, SSC.

  • Thirty: Roy York, SSC; Lori O’Toole, Student Medical Services; and Robert Lauffer, Athletics.

  • Twenty-five: Loretta Moore, SSC; Emil Shipman, SSC; Chari Lueb, JBK Student Center; and Candy Marshall, Student Medical Services.

  • Twenty years: Tadhi Hayes, SSC; Beth Vizzini, Cornette Library; Gilberto Antunez, Ministry of Education; Pyxa Sovilay, Upwards; Tracy See, School of Music; Brandi Clark, Registrar’s Office; and Elosia Reyna, Student Engagement and Leadership.

  • Fifteen years: Tracee Post, Office of the President; Cindy Riggs, SSC; Marilyn Shuman, SSC; Lynsee Bjork, Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business; Misty Hobbs, Engler College of Business; Vicki Hamblen, College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Michelle Blake, Educational Services; Robert Thompson, Environmental Security; Clifford Henthorn, Information Technology; and Tina Good, Athletics.

  • Ten years: Jeanette Jarnagin, Business Office; Brandon Johnson, University Police Department; Sherri McIlroy, Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance; Mickie Scantling, Purchasing; Vicky Buckelew, College of Engineering; Michelle Kirksey, nursing; Kimberly Kopke, Student Advisory Services; Rachel Williams, Student Financial Aid; Margarita Cooper, SSC; Gaby Rosales, SSC; Rita Smith, Graduate School; Krista Favela, Information Technology; Stacy Scheller, information technology; and Brent Seals, Athletics.

  • Five years: Jeffrey Mayo, Purchasing; Stanley Pena, Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance; Eric Sosa, business office; Michael Crippen, Consulting Services; Cindy Grabbe, Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences; Berlin McIntosh, History; Amy Criss, Veterans Services; Samantha Green, Office of Career and Career Services; Elizabeth Lopez, Residential Life; Beth Mowry, Office of Career and Career Services; Mary Torbert, Upward; Kelton Weller, admissions; Tanner Johnston, information technology; Michael Young, Information Technology; Kristin Johnson, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum Bookstore; Gregory Gibson, Athletics; Justin Haddan, Athletics; William “Hunter” Hughes, athletics; Shawn Neale, Athletics; and Casey Shingler, Athletics.

Staff members who retired in 2022 were also honoured: Linda Elliott, Tommy Sweat, Connie Fordham, Barbara Palmer, Debra Carter, Marian Giesecke and Betty Stocker.

Outgoing and incoming members of the WT Staff Council were also celebrated, as were employees who earned college degrees in the past year: Angelica Veronica Medina, Jeremie Austin Middleton, Patrick William Diepen, Varatharaj Varatharaj, Beth Ann Vizzini, Eric Michael Sosa, Tyler Steven Findley, Dalanie Rachelle Underwood, Jordyn Dayne Dunaway, Sharon Kay Murdock and Amy R. Clifton.

Recognizing excellent and dedicated faculty and staff is in line with WT’s “people first” philosophy, as set out in the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From begging to the world.

This plan is fueled by the historic amount of $125 million one west huge fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which launched publicly on September 23 — has raised around $110 million.

-West Texas A&M University