Campus News

Bowdoin Honors Six With Employee Excellence Award

Story posted May 16, 2001

Six employees of Bowdoin College have been selected to receive this year’s Employee Excellence Award. The six were chosen from a pool of 55 nominations received for 36 employees. Nominations came from students and fellow employees. The six were honored in at a reception held on campus May 15, with President Robert Edwards presiding over the festivities.

Those being honored are Vivian Asbra, Housekeeper (Facilities Management); Tulle Frazer, Lab Instructor (Biology); Russell Ingalls, Caretaker (Bowdoin College Scientific Station, Kent Island); Bonny Labonte, Academic Department Coordinator (Sociology & Anthropology); Armand Pomerleau, Assistant Chef (Dining Service, Thorne Hall); and Jon Tobey, Housekeeper (Facilities Management).

Vivian Asbra was hired in April 1999 as a Housekeeper. She began working on second shift in a variety of buildings including Moulton Union and Searles Science Building, and currently works on the first shift. Employees who work in the buildings to which Vivian has been assigned have written notes to supervisors praising her for being efficient, courteous, and positive, and indicating they would hate to “lose” her to another building. The students at Chamberlain Hall appreciate her fine work and cheerful attitude as well, commenting that she always has a smile on her face and genuinely cares about them.

Tulle Frazer began her career at Bowdoin as a half-time Laboratory Technician in the biology department in September 1992. In 1996 she accepted the position of Laboratory Instructor in biology, a position she continues in today. Tulle’s strengths as Lab Instructor lie in “her talents in the field, understanding of the natural history of plants and animals, and her ability to connect with students.” She has put in countless extra hours developing the protocols for new labs to make sure students “get their money’s worth.” Students enthusiastically endorse her generosity, knowledge, humor, conscientiousness, and skill as a teacher. She is a graduate of Allegheny College and earned her master’s degree in teaching at the University of Vermont.

Russell Ingalls has served Bowdoin year-round since 1990 as caretaker of the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy. He and his family live on the island for several weeks each summer, and the rest of the year he takes his boat from Seal Cove, Grand Manan, over to Kent Island at least once a month to check the field station, repair wind-damaged roofs, service the photovoltaic system, and make sure everything is perfect for the next research season. He takes an active role in the summer program by teaching students how to navigate in the Bay of Fundy, inviting them to accompany him as he fishes for lobsters or sea urchins, and showing them how to run boats safely. His presentations on how to tie fisherman’s knots is enormously popular. He takes students on trips to the seabird colony on Machias Seal Island and to the outer banks of the Bay of Fundy to look for whales and pelagic seabirds at the end of each summer.

Russell is dedicated to Kent Island, the program at the Bowdoin Scientific Station, and Bowdoin students. This year he made “extraordinary contributions to the ‘common good’ of Bowdoin College.” When a large salmon aquaculture company submitted a proposal to the provincial Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture to develop a site 100 yards offshore of Kent Island, Russell supported Bowdoin’s international effort to protect the island and its 66-year tradition of conservation, environmental education and scientific research. He became “an eloquent and influential spokesperson for the values for which the Bowdoin Scientific Station stands,” says Professor Nat Wheelwright, despite pressures from neighbors and in-laws, some of whom stood to benefit financially from the development plans.

Bonny Labonte first came to Bowdoin as a temporary secretary to the director of annual giving for six months in 1991 and 1992. In June 1996 she was hired to serve as Academic Department Coordinator in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and she currently continues in that position. Department members continuously comment on how successful she is at her work, and what a pleasure it is to work with her. She is credited with “single-handedly” holding the large and busy department together, always with “good will and a positive attitude.” She is noted for her excellent, thorough, efficient work ethic as well as her flexibility and calm resilience in a very busy department, and is helpful and caring toward students. She is described by all who know her as “unfailingly warm and caring.”

Armand Pomerleau applied for work at Bowdoin based on the recommendation of a NorthCenter Food Service salesman and was hired in June 1987. He started out as a grill cook in Wentworth (now Thorne) and was promoted to Cook in 1990 and Assistant Chef in 1997. Over the years he has demonstrated excellent organizational skills and an ever-increasing willingness to go the extra mile for Dining Service customers. He is known for his attention to special dietary needs of students, exemplary attendance record and attentiveness to the needs of his crew at Thorne dining facility. It has been noted that staff enjoy working with him as well as for him. He always wants to make sure students and other guests of the College are taken care of with top-notch service.

Jon Tobey joined the Housekeeping Department of Facilities Management as a casual employee in January 1995. In October of that year he was hired as a regular, full-time member of the first shift working in Coles Tower. He is noted for his reliability and “willingness to do his duties and more,” especially on weekend shifts. “His” students in Coleman admire him for his cheerfulness, sincerity, and wonderful attention to their living quarters. One student commented, “He is the nicest, most sincere and caring Housekeeper. Jon works tirelessly to keep our dorm clean and comfortable, and is always a pleasure to talk to.” He has “certainly made an impact on the lives of many students.”

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