Grace Rock and Karen Mason Win Outstanding Staff Awards

Karen Mason and Grace Rock Karen Mason (left) and Grace Rock (right), 2017 Outstanding Staff Award recipients / Photo credit: Ebru Kardan
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Two outstanding staff members were recognized this spring for their exemplary work in the UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Grace Rock, Business Manager for the Department of Anthropology and Karen Mason, Grants, Personnel, and Budget Manager for the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) were chosen by a committee of their peers from a highly competitive pool of nominees. 

The Outstanding Staff Award is given to those who have made an impact on SBS by fostering a collaborative environment, creating a positive work environment, implementing innovative work processes or systems, and exemplifying integrity and dedication. Rock and Mason are prime examples of these qualities.  Dean John Hird states, “We are delighted to be able to recognize our outstanding staff with this award.  Staff are central to our success, and this is but a small token of our appreciation for all they do to advance their department, the college, and the university.”

Grace Rock has worked at UMass for 17 years, originally as a clerk and currently as the Business Manager. In this time, she’s built a reputation for dedication and willingness to take on new and difficult challenges for the good of her colleagues. She has made dramatic improvements to the internal bookkeeping, reporting, and tracking in the Anthropology Department, having both the vision to see where there were opportunities and for the ability to implement that vision.

“We are delighted to be able to recognize our outstanding staff with this award.  Staff are central to our success, and this is but a small token of our appreciation for all they do to advance their department, the college, and the university.”
- Dean John A. Hird

 

A contributor to her nomination stated that “Grace doesn't hesitate to go above and beyond her regular duties to help her coworkers as part of the team and to make our department a better place overall.  She has an excellent attitude and good-natured approach towards everyone she encounters.  I am tremendously grateful for her.”

Rock expressed her heartfelt appreciation for her colleagues’ efforts in nominating her for this award, stating that she is “deeply honored to be one of the recipients of this very special award.  Throughout the many challenges that this job can bring, I am grateful to have the support and encouragement of our Department Chair, Department Administrator, the Dean's Office and our incredible staff and faculty.  It is a pleasure to work with each and everyone of them.”

Karen Mason has been a member of the UMass family for over 25 years. Since then, she has made a significant impact in the Institute for Social Science Research, having been a part of the team since its inception. She has been instrumental in filling in gaps when needed, pitching in to help constantly as ISSR formed and developed, and helping dozens of faculty and graduate students navigate the world of grants. Despite the numerous demands and challenges she took on, Mason has been unwavering in her professional disposition.

In the letters from colleagues submitted in her nomination, a common theme emerged: Mason is instrumental in guiding faculty and graduate students in the grant application process and other complex administrative processes. Her colleagues call her a “lifesaver” and “invaluable.” One writes, “She is, to understate, wonderful—smart, helpful, knowledgeable, responsible, imaginative, committed.  Whenever I have asked for help on a grant application, on a budget, on an order, on how to help a junior colleague with grant writing, she has responded so fast, with such good advice, that I have sometimes been astonished. We are so lucky to have her.”

“I love my work in ISSR, and to have that reflected in the comments of those who nominated me for this award is gratifying,” says Mason. “I also have our Director, Laurel Smith-Doerr, to thank for her motivation and inspiration for all of us to do our best, and our staff for setting a high standard of service that we all aspire to.”

This is the third year of the SBS Outstanding Staff Award.  Previous winners include Wendy Wilde (Sociology), Gail Fleischaker (Resource Economics), Nancy Lattinville (Economics), and Debra Madigan (Communication), In addition to public recognition, the winners receive a plaque and a $1000 cash award.