University of Vermont

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

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Outstanding Staffer Makes Work a Home Away From Home

Marcia Purvis
Marcia Purvis has worked in UVM animal science for more than a decade. Her colleagues say she goes far beyond the call of duty.

On one of several Facebook pages that Marcia Purvis’s administers, in her profile picture she’s got a smile on her face and a big handsome guy has his arm around her.

Not her husband, that big guy is Rally Cat, the UVM mascot, and beside him is a newborn UVM calf. Purvis demonstrates an enormous commitment to her own family and her UVM family. And she is beloved by them. That’s why on April 19 she was surrounded by her own family and about 200 of "her UVM family" when she received the 10th annual College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Staff Award, established in 2005. This award was part of annual Honors Day ceremonies at which 86 undergraduate students received 42 awards, and Laura Bermingham Hill received the Joseph E. Carrigan Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

For the past 14 years, she has been an office and program support specialist for the animal science department. That’s code for “does anything and everything.” But her duties are primarily managing calendars, mailings, listservs, databases, reports, presentations, evaluations, surveys and the like to support the work of others.

Purvis brought with her to UVM a summa cum laude associate’s degree in business management from Champlain College. She also brought 13 years of experience in office management, project direction and administrative assistance – mostly in higher education.

TOOK THE TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE

In an age when the world will pass you by if you don’t keep up with technology, she took the initiative to complete training for UVM’s web design certificate and then continued to take computer classes to expand her role to become unofficial department webmaster for at least seven sites and go-to guru when trouble arises. 

These skills gained her additional responsibilities as communications coordinator. That means she funnels myriads of disparate news items – from new research to new babies – into websites, newsletters and brochures. These venues have grown to include student recruitment, Dairy Center of Excellence and UVM Farms renovation fundraising materials. And if you’re one of animal science’s 362 Facebook or 120 twitter followers – you guessed it – that’s Purvis.

Add to that, event planning. She is one of the team members who helped this year’s 25th anniversary homecoming dinner for CREAM – the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management – be such a success.

When the department lost an Extension position some years ago, Purvis added its chores to her full platter. Altogether, the activities under the purview of her job take place in the offices and labs of Terrill Hall, and also on UVM farms complex on Spear Street and the Morgan Horse Farm in Middlebury.

Outside of her job, she voluntarily coordinates several animal science community-service events: food drives, gift-giving and charity fundraisers such as the local humane society’s Walk for the Animals.

Her supervisor and department chair André-Denis Wright sums it up: “Marcia is a model team member who is always willing to help anyone, a careful listener and a fantastic communicator who makes logical and sound judgments. Marcia takes great pride in her work and it is of the highest quality. She is well-organized, professional, strives for excellence and manages time well –  which is especially noteworthy given that she is 80 percent of full-time equivalent.”

Fran Kinghorn, one of the 11 animal science co-workers who nominated her for this award wrote, ““I often leave at the end of the day and see her still sitting at her desk. She is a dedicated employee who consistently stays later than she is required in order to help someone meet a deadline.” 

Julie Smith wrote that no matter what the meeting, “barbecues, holiday parties, baby showers, Marcia is getting the coffee, cheering us on and cleaning up when we’re gone.”

After CALS Dean Tom Vogelmann gave her the shiny engraved plaque, Purvis took the podium. "This College employs many hardworking staff members," she said modestly. She thanked her colleagues, co-workers, students, friends, family and God. And she divulged that every workday morning her "husband starts the coffeemaker, makes lunch and warms up the car." Now that's just one more reason to happily go to work every day.

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