Chase James

Chase James

Carol Levine

Carol Levine

Ken Morton

Ken Morton

Jeanne Porterfield

Jeanne Porterfield

Rebecca Self

Rebecca Self

Stephanie Strahl

Stephanie Strahl

Rumone Upshaw

Rumone Upshaw

Charles Weaver

Charles Weaver

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Eight Stephen F. Austin State University staff members recently were selected to receive the university’s President’s Achievement Award.

Selected by Interim President Gina Oglesbee, awardees received an inscribed plaque and $750. Recipients were nominated by staff, faculty and students. To be eligible for nomination, the honorees were required to be full-time staff members with at least one year at SFA.

"This year's President's Achievement Award recipients are a shining example of the dedication and excellence that define SFA,” Oglesbee said. “These eight individuals have gone above and beyond, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to their work and our students. Their contributions are truly inspiring, and I'm incredibly proud to have them as part of our SFA family."

Chase James, Information Technology Services

While James was an undergraduate at SFA, he was hired as a student technician for the SFA Help Desk in 2016. After graduating and holding various tech positions on campus, James is now in his fourth and current position as the SFA Makerspace technician.  

James said receiving the award was an amazing surprise.

“I couldn't say I expected it at all; it was a shock, and I told my wife right away I was so excited,” he added. “I just want to use my skills to benefit this great university in whatever position seems best. SFA has given me a lot — a good job and an education. I hope to be here until I retire.”
James Egner, assistant director of client services in ITS, said he had the honor of interviewing James for his first official position at SFA after graduating and that he later sought him out for the SFA Makerspace position.

“When I learned that Chase James was selected as the recipient of the President’s Achievement Award, I wanted to rush over to the library and congratulate him immediately,” Egner said. “His infectious enthusiasm for all things Makerspace has earned him this award. Congrats Chase — you are the ‘Maker Chase!’”

James can be found in the SFA Makerspace assisting students, faculty and staff with their technology needs, conducting training sessions on the space’s equipment, and exploring new technology as it becomes available to use.

Carol Levine, School of Social Work

Levine has worked with SFA’s School of Social Work as an administrative assistant since 2003. After attending Angelina College in 1995, she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in general business from SFA in 2005 and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in higher education administration at Sam Houston State University.

As an administrative assistant, Levine advises undergraduate social work students and aids in general business for the school.

“My work holds significant personal value, and I believe in cultivating a work ethic that instills pride in the tasks I undertake,” Levine said. “I love what I do, and my passion lies in supporting students as I see it as my duty to continually inspire, motivate and assist them on their academic journey. I am a graduate of SFA and I love the dedication and respect that is given to the students.”

Dr. Freddie Avant, director and associate dean of the School of Social Work, said if he were in the process of starting an organization and looking for an employee, Levine would be his example.

“We have worked together for almost 20 years, and the successes of the School of Social Work are because of her investment,” Avant said. “I cannot think of an employee who makes a difference day in and day out like Ms. Carol Levine. She is a committed employee who truly strives to make things better.”

Ken Morton, Campus Recreation

Morton has been the director of SFA Campus Recreation for more than 20 years and said he felt gratitude for the Campus Rec team after winning the President’s Achievement Award.

“Nothing I do could be achieved without the great team of professional staff, graduate assistants and more than 120 students,” Morton said. “So, to have someone take the time to nominate me as a supervisor means a lot to me.”

Morton has more than 30 years of recreational director experience, working for various universities, city governments and more before landing at SFA in 2010.  

“This is a passion and a calling for me. I 100% believe in what we do and that it makes a difference for students,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunities afforded to me in my role here. I appreciate the support I’ve had from former SFA President Dr. Steven Westbrook, who hired me, to my current supervisor, Dr. Andrew Dies, assistant vice president of Student Affairs. SFA is a special place, and I’m grateful to be able to supervise a team that is passionate and dedicated to the work we do.”

Jeanne Porterfield, Steen Library

Porterfield is the library purchasing coordinator and has worked at SFA since 2011. She said finding out she received the President’s Achievement Award was a moving experience.

“I still get emotional just thinking about the award and how privileged I feel to have received it,” Porterfield said. “To know someone took time to nominate you is very rewarding for all the hard work you try to accomplish each day. Everyone on our campus tries to do a great job each day, so I feel humbled to have received the award."

Johnathan Helmke, Steen Library director, said Porterfield provides dedicated service to the SFA community.

“She goes the extra mile for library student workers,” Helmke said. “Many times, I hear her in our office area talking to students to see how their day is going. Thank you, Jeanne, for your dedication to students, staff and faculty.”

Porterfield said she tries to help colleagues and students however possible.

“We all should feel like one big team at SFA,” Porterfield said. “Everyone should help each other any way we can so all departments can run smoothly. I feel everyone’s job on campus is very important, so we should treat everyone with respect — that’s what I try to do each day.”

Rebecca Self, DeWitt School of Nursing

Self started at SFA almost 10 years ago and is currently the simulation lab coordinator for the School of Nursing. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the lab, including coordinating all activities, staging and disassembly of all simulations, troubleshooting technology issues, managing inventory and supplies, and general equipment maintenance.

“I was shocked and honored to be chosen for the President’s Achievement Award,” Self said. “I am humbled that a coworker took the time to nominate me and that the university chose me for this award. There are many wonderful employees at SFA who deserve this award more than me, but I am truly grateful to be recognized.”

Tamara Harris, director of the School of Nursing, said Self keeps a 9,000-square-feet simulation lab running smoothly every day.

“Rebecca Self is one of the most deserving individuals of this recognition,” Harris said. “She works quietly behind the scenes to make sure every student and faculty member has what they need. She excels at everything she does, she is flexible, collegial, patient, positive, encouraging and maintains high standards for the simulation lab. In short, the DeWitt School of Nursing would not be the same without her.”

Stephanie Strahl, James I. Perkins College of Education

Strahl started at SFA in 2013 as an academic advisor in the Perkins College of Education and is currently a lead advisor for the college.

“I was flattered and honored when I learned that I won the President’s Achievement Award,” Strahl said. “I enjoy coming to work every day. We have an amazing advising team in the Perkins College of Education. I get to work with great colleagues, faculty and students. I like seeing students have successes, reach their goals and graduate.”

Stacy Hendricks, associate dean of student services and advising in the college, said in Strahl’s approximately 11 years at SFA, there have been times she’s advised a load of more than 450 students.

“She has had the opportunity to advise, counsel, mentor and even politely push thousands of students toward graduation,” Hendricks said. “Stephanie is a team player and is always willing to go above the call of duty. She is certainly a blessing to those in our office and the advising community at SFA. She continuously demonstrates the qualities and practices of an outstanding academic advisor and has impacted more lives than she probably even realizes.”

Rumone Upshaw, Physical Plant Department

Upshaw began his work with SFA’s Physical Plant in 2004 as a custodial staff member and has since been promoted to receive greater responsibilities in the department.

“I was glad to hear that people appreciated me,” Upshaw said. “It's a job that I am thankful that I have.”

Veronica Herrera, custodial supervisor III, serves as Upshaw’s supervisor and commended his dedication to his work.

“Rumone receiving this award is a long time coming,” Herrera said. “The dedication that Rumone has to this university is unmatched. For example, I can speak for myself and say that my superiors have never had to force me to take time off. Getting Rumone to take time off is a challenge I face every summer."

“Rumone’s exceptional work ethic and infectious, happy demeanor are no doubt why he was nominated for this award,” she continued. “He takes pride in what he does for this university, and we are very lucky to have him as a part of our team. Thank you to all who were involved in nominating him; and congratulations, Rumone! You deserve and have earned this recognition.”

Charles Weaver, Physical Plant Department

Weaver is a Nacogdoches native and HVAC tech 2 at SFA. He has worked in air conditioning for more than 40 years and will celebrate his nine-year work anniversary at SFA this June.

Weaver’s grandmother, Lois Foster Blunt, was SFA’s first employee hired under former president Dr. Alton Birdwell in 1923 and retired in 1972. Blunt was a history professor and library curator who contributed to the library archives.

“I have a lot of respect for this campus because of [my grandmother],” Weaver said.

He expressed his appreciation for the campus community and for receiving the President’s Achievement Award.

“It’s an honor for my peers to think highly of me,” Weaver said. “It’s nice when an employee has a spotlight shown on them that they’re working hard and trying their best. I know a lot of the people who were awarded, and I’m proud of them.”

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website.