Eight Honored at Mary Roper Award Reception

by Rashad Mulla

Eight Honored at Mary Roper Award Reception
From left to right: Jill Bowen, Mary Roper, Jack Censer, Sheri Van Vranken, Carrie Grabo.

Jack Censer, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, beamed proudly from the podium in Mason Hall’s Edwin Meese III Conference Room, and enumerated the many accomplishments of the three staff members he was honoring.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, the college honored the three winners of the 12th annual Mary Roper Award, given to outstanding staff members working in the college’s departments.

The three winners are Jill Bowen, academic coordinator in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Carrie Grabo, undergraduate coordinator in the Department of History and Art History and Sheri Van Vranken, business manager in The Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy.

The college also honored surprise winners of four topical awards:

Outstanding HR & Finance Support

  • Janice Cohen, Department of Public and International Affairs

Outstanding IT Support

  • Ezzat Shehadeh, Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies

Outstanding Graduate Programs Support

  • Peg Koback and Amanda Myers, Department of Public and International Affairs

Outstanding Undergraduate Programs Support

  • Sara Montiel, Department of Psychology

Jill Bowen supports the College of Humanities and Social Sciences dean's office in the areas of curriculum management, space administration and equipment management. She collects and documents all of the information required to verify the curriculum throughout the college and singlehandedly enters the information for publication to the university catalog.

Bowen’s coworkers showed their appreciation for her through nomination letters:

  • “Jill not only supports the goals of the college through her work with faculty, staff and students, she performs her duties with a level of care and confidence that not only alleviates problems, but demonstrates the forward thinking that is present in all aspects of her job.”
  • “In all aspects of her work, Jill is not only cordial, but professional in her demeanor. She is direct in her approach and can be trusted with the most sensitive issues. Her awareness of concerns within the Dean’s office itself enables her to find solutions to challenges where many fail to even look.”
  • “Jill efficiently brings all aspects of the curriculum catalog together, attending to entries, corrections, correlation and consistency comparison.”

Carrie Grabo provides support for students, undergraduate directors, faculty advisors and the history and art history department overall. Her responsibilities range from monitoring undergraduate academic policy to managing book orders. Additionally, she serves as the department’s “Green Patriot” representative, working with the Office of Sustainability to develop environmentally sustainable practices both within the department and throughout the university.

Her coworkers serenaded her with praise:

  • “Carrie is incredibly good at trouble-shooting and strategizing about how to solve complicated problems that require multiple forms and phone calls across the university.”
  • “Carrie has been the department’s go-to person in almost every respect. It would be cliché to refer to Carrie as the glue that holds things together, but it’s nonetheless true, and hard to overstate.”
  • “Carrie is completely wonderful and her presence makes the department a happier and better-run place.”

Sheri Van Vranken manages all Cochrane College budgets, hiring, purchasing, reimbursements, travel, and funding change forms. She enters Cochrane assignments in the Banner system and oversees the college's web presence. She organizes meetings of international and domestic participants, maintains the center calendar, plans and attends Cochrane-sponsored events, and assists with proposal development. She serves as the liaison and point of reference for faculty members, fellows and graduate research assistants.

Despite being at Mason for a relatively short time, Van Vranken has earned the praise of her coworkers: 

  • “Since the inception of the Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy at George Mason University, Sheri has been the backbone of our organization.”
  • “Sheri’s greatest qualities include her ability to give astute advice, her team player attitude and her genuine concern for the well-being of every single person that comes through our office.”
  • “Beyond just her professional capabilities, Sheri brings an undeniable cheery presence to the office every single day. She is everything you would ever want a coworker to be: professional, caring, smart and always prepared.”

The Mary Roper Award is named after Mary Roper, who “set the standard for excellence through her professionalism and her dedication to the job and the university,” according to Censer. Roper is currently the administrative assistant to the George Mason University chief of staff.