Article originally written by Ann E. Bromley
Whether it’s helping coworkers and the community to complete complex projects or routinely helping others beyond regular work hours, University of Virginia employees put in myriad efforts over the year that contribute to the University’s aims to be “great and good.”
As anyone who’s ever worked at the Commerce School can attest, McIntire Building Manager Eugene “Gene” Lawson truly personifies that spirit of generosity and commitment. And thanks to the honest accounts by his colleagues, Lawson was deservedly recognized along with 10 other University employees with a Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award, the highest honor bestowed upon staff for their dedication and service. The award’s namesake, Leonard W. Sandridge, and current UVA leaders, President Jim Ryan among them, announced the winners in a ceremony Dec. 20.
In 2010, the Outstanding Contributor Awards were named for Sandridge, the former UVA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer who gave more than four decades of service to the University.
Lawson, and the other distinguished employees, represent the Academic Division, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and UVA Health, including the Medical Center and School of Medicine. He and his fellow honorees each received $1,000 and an engraved gift.
An Exceptional Colleague
“The heartbeat of the Comm School.” That’s the way Christina Maria Mattaliano, Associate Director of Graduate Recruitment, Pre-Experience Programs, describes Lawson.
“The time and dedication he puts into taking care of our building are unmatched,” she says. “It’s not only because of the work he does for the School and the care he puts into taking care of our building, but also who he is as a person that makes him most deserving of this award.”
Andrea Kester, Admissions Coordinator, Office of Undergraduate Admission, agrees, saying that Lawson’s “constant vigilance and hard work” ensure that Rouss & Robertson Halls are kept at their best. Because of his efforts, the entire facility remains one that Kester and her team are “proud to invite corporate sponsors, employers, alumni, and prospective students and their families into for various events.” She adds that “Gene’s sense of humor brings a sense of levity to an otherwise busy workday, making it a pleasant place to work.”
In nominating him, Christopher L.W. Elliott, Assistant Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs, wrote, “There is simply no other human who impacts the daily routine at the McIntire School of Commerce as much as Gene Lawson, though the majority of students who pass through the building never have a chance to meet this incredibly kind, humble, and committed man.”
Lawson, who gets to work around 4 a.m., makes sure that classrooms and public spaces are reconfigured for the work of the day, but it’s the care he puts into his work that makes the difference. Supporters noted he does everything with kindness and dedication.
For example, when Sonia Jiménez, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission, broke her leg at the beginning of the fall semester, Lawson regularly walked with her to her office and helped her in any way she needed. “Gene’s actions have kept my spirits up during this difficult time,” she wrote.
“Gene has served as our Building Manager at the McIntire School of Commerce since well before I arrived 12 years ago,” wrote Elliott. “He was the first person I met when I moved into my office, and his warmth struck me from that first interaction. This experience is most common, as Gene works every summer to transition all faculty and staff offices—helping to move those who are shifting to new spaces and making sure every picture frame hole is patched and painted. He takes incredible care to make sure that every new colleague walks into a clean and ready office for them every time. We are incredibly fortunate for many of our colleagues to have met Gene as one of the first in the building. Over 1,000 faculty, staff, and students each year, and frankly, every day—benefit from Gene’s contributions—this is every single person who steps foot regularly in Rouss & Robertson Halls.”