Upstate Medical University presented 16 awards at its fall convocation Sept. 16. The SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service — was given to Michele Henderson. Below is her biography, as it appears in the convocation program.
By Stephanie DeJoseph
Michele Henderson is described as the “administrative backbone” in the Office of Faculty Affairs and Development as she serves as the assistant to the senior associate dean for an unusually wide range of important and high-level projects. Kudos such as “epitome of professionalism and loyalty,” “exquisitely organized,” “highly skilled” and “model employee” echoed over and over again in nearly 20 pages of nominations.
She coordinates many development events, including the Celebration of Faculty — which is like putting a wedding together every year — and the Faculty Commons, an e-newsletter, while keeping everything that runs through the office moving forward and successful. She is able to sort complex data into understandable pieces in support of whatever process is at hand. “I believe that Michele’s knowledge, skills and professionalism are in large part why the office can manage many programs with a small staff and be so widely valued,” commented a nominator. Throughout and consistently, Ms. Henderson shows “remarkable competence, quiet courtesy and grace under pressure.” Several nominators described her as “unflappable.”
Her email communication, databases, forms, bulletin board, desk, files and the general way she approaches her work are models of orderliness. For every meeting she organizes, whether or not she has a role, she comes to the room before the meeting to be sure everything is prepared and ready, whether it’s audiovisuals, attendance sheets or food, and comes back at the end to wrap things up.
Possessing a firm commitment to excellence, Ms. Henderson is creative, often anticipates problems and provides the assistance before one is even aware that it is needed. “She is a gem, making her work seem seamless to outsiders,” said one. Her excellent set of skills is credited with the launch of many new initiatives. A trusted member of the team, Ms. Henderson is able to set up an efficient and effective process so that programs will be successful and sustainable. She is involved in every aspect of program planning, including providing insight into the goals, logistics, and execution of each initiative. “I totally depend on her wise guidance and counsel,” added another.
Ms. Henderson is also the face of Upstate to prospective and new members of the faculty, as well as those who have been here for their careers. She handles confidential information with discretion and integrity. In her work of orienting and supporting the faculty and chairs, she consistently creates an environment in which anyone seeking assistance knows they will be taken seriously and treated courteously. She does all she is asked to do, and so much more, to ensure that faculty members feel welcome and engaged with Upstate.
“If she could bottle her organization, she would be wealthy and we would be far more productive,” said a nominator. “Michele provides the type of support that makes Upstate shine,” summed another.