College Honors its 2013 Mary Roper Awardees

College Honors its 2013 Mary Roper Awardees
From left: Jason King, Sara Duval, Mary Schifferli, Dean Deborah Boehm-Davis, Mary Roper, Janice Cohen, Fu (James) Zhao, Craig Zaccaro

On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences gathered at Mason’s Center for the Arts to recognize several of its outstanding staff members at the annual Mary Roper Award ceremony. 

This year’s awardees were Janice Cohen, business manager in the Department of Public and International Affairs, and Fu (James) Zhao, senior budget analyst for the New Century College. In addition, four staff members received topical awards:

  • Outstanding HR & Finance Support, Sara Duval, Department of History and Art History
  • Outstanding IT Support, Craig Zaccaro, New Century College
  • Outstanding Graduate Programs Support, Mary Schifferli, Department of Criminology, Law and Society
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Programs Support, Jason King, Department of Global Affairs

The Mary Roper Award recognizes classified staff members for outstanding service in support of the core goals of the college: improving the quality of the liberal arts experience for all students, increasing the capacity for noteworthy and innovative scholarship, and creating and strengthening external relationships.

The recipients directly support the mission of the department or college through their work with faculty, students, staff, or the greater university community.

The award is named for Mary Roper, who worked in the Department of Biology and in the dean's office of the College of Arts and Sciences for a total of 14 years. Roper, who retired last year, was in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony.

During the award presentation, Dean Deborah Boehm-Davis shared many excerpts from the letters submitted to nominate Cohen and Zhao. Cohen was praised for her excellent judgment, and “incredible mind for detail and problem solving . . . from the sublime to the ridiculous.” It was noted that “she is thoughtful and intuitive, which makes her a particularly effective and gifted supervisor,” and “[w]hile superb in all aspects of her work . . . [h]er ability to manage complex contracts, decipher opaque government grants, and track long forgotten expenditures is nothing short of amazing.”

Zhao’s colleagues noted the wide-ranging gifts he brings to NCC. Described as “knowledgeable, experienced, incredibly friendly, always helpful, . . . [his] daily actions demonstrate what it means to truly respect others’ differences, to generously give more than receive, to intentionally look for what is right in people and situations rather than shortcomings or faults.” One of his nominations simply stated: “’Ask James. He knows everything.’ This was the advice I frequently got from my colleagues when I first came to NCC. And it turns out to be the most valuable advice I ever had.”

James Zhao and Janice Cohen with Mary Roper.
Credit: Kathleen Curtis

Boehm-Davis ended the ceremony with the observation, “One of the pleasures of this job is the opportunity to recognize those who provide outstanding support.” The faculty and staff of the college truly share in the enjoyment of this yearly opportunity.