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Recipients of the 2019 Bartels Awards for Custodial Service Excellence. At top, facilities leadership, including Rick Burgess, vice president for facilities and campus services, right; and Susan and Phil Bartels ’71, third and fourth from left.

Bartels Awards honor custodians for teamwork, excellence

Last year, a student was feeling demoralized and depressed as the date for her GRE approached. Andrea Stewart, a Building Care employee in Clara Dickson Hall, where the student lived, not only listened to her and reassured her – she loaned the student her car to drive to the exam in Binghamton.

Award recipient Khin Khin Paw accepts congratulations from facilities leadership.

“How could someone who only knows me within the walls of Dickson be so open and trusting to help me in the way that she was offering?” the student said, in a statement read at the annual Bartels Award ceremony, Dec. 10 in the Ramin Room in Bartels Hall, to recognize the work of more than 400 Building Care staff members.

Stewart was among six custodial and housekeeping workers honored with Bartels Awards for Custodial Service Excellence, bestowed for strong customer service orientation, reliability, team-building and communication skills, technical knowledge, support of the Cornell mission and positive attitude. Awardees received a certificate of recognition and a monetary award.

Stewart’s gesture echoed the kindness a custodian showed to Katie Bartels ’06 during her senior year, which inspired her parents, Phil ’71 and Susan Bartels, to sponsor an awards program recognizing outstanding Building Care staff. That program later expanded to include scholarships; this year, 10 children of Building Care employees received scholarships, as did two employees working toward college degrees.

In his remarks, Phil Bartels described two core values of Cornell employees: multitasking and teamwork.

“I honor each of you for … showing how these two core values that I’m focusing on are so important to you,” he said, “and to the community here that you serve – the students, the employees, the professors and so forth – to make it such a wonderful place.”

The ceremony, which was followed by a lunch, was also attended by Rick Burgess, vice president for facilities and campus services; Keith Barton ’94, associate vice president for facilities management and contract college facilities; and Bob Pils, who recently joined Cornell as director of building care.

Tom Ink, a Building Care employee for nearly 40 years, walks to the stage to accept his Bartels Award.

“I’ve never heard of a program that does so much to honor and support the front-line staff and their children,” said Pils, who also read a letter from retired Building Care director Rob Osborn. “Being recognized in this way [increases] satisfaction in the work we do, makes us happy to come to work and encourages teamwork and collaboration.”

This year’s awardees:

Ron Crump, a 17-year veteran of Cornell, was honored for his reliability, pride in his work and commitment to high standards. “This staff member clearly understands our mission and has become an outstanding steward of the university,” his manager wrote. “He is always kind and generous toward his co-workers; he frequently takes the initiative to reach out and support newly hired staff.”

Wahneta Evener, who has worked for Cornell for 25 years, is well-regarded by faculty, staff and students, who often return to visit her after graduation. She has received perfect attendance over six-month periods 44 times and has served on several committees. She plans to retire in May 2020. “She’s a team player, even if that means dressing up as a banana” to judge a contest, said Hazel Hall, associate director of Building Care, who presented her award. “She will truly be missed.”

John Hill, who came to Cornell in 2013 after many years in manufacturing, is known for his cheerful, funny personality and commitment to customer service as well as safety. “He’s always willing to cover areas when his co-workers are absent without skipping a beat,” Hall said, “and is always coming up with new and fun ways to promote safety in the department.”

Tom Ink, a nearly 40-year employee, was praised for continually going above and beyond his duties and helping others. “I have had the privilege of working with Tom for a number of years, and I have learned you can count on him for four things,” said Rick Jordan, associate director of Building Care. “He is always at work; he takes very good care of his customers; he always has a joke to tell you; and he always has a twinkle in his eye.”

Khin Khin Paw, who has worked at Cornell for 12 years, was recognized for his positive outlook and hard work. “In the fall with his trusty leaf blower, he will not allow a single leaf to enter his building,” Jordan said. “Before the last snowflake falls, he is already planning and mapping out his area for project work.” 

In addition to her kindness to students, Andrea Stewart, who began working at Cornell nearly seven years ago, was honored for her hard work and friendliness. “She is flexible and always willing to take on any assignment, big or small,” said Cindy Lockwood, associate director of Building Care. “She can be counted on to complete the task with great attention to detail.”

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Abby Butler