12 Named 2019 NC State Awards for Excellence Winners

Congratulations are in order for the twelve (12) NC State employees who won the NC State University Award for Excellence on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. These twelve individuals were also nominated for the North Carolina Governor’s Awards for Excellence.

The NC State Awards for Excellence program is the most prestigious honor bestowed upon non-faculty employees at NC State. Tuesday’s ceremony recognized the significant accomplishments and contributions of 55 individuals who were nominated for the 2019 NC State University Award for Excellence.

Each year, all colleges and divisions across NC State select employees to be recognized as Award for Excellence recipients. The employees honored demonstrate excellence not only in their profession but also in their individual departments and divisions, the campus community, and the lives of others.

Photos of the 2019 Awards for Excellence Ceremony

2019 NC State Award for Excellence Winners


Blake Wickerham

Office of the Chancellor | NC State Athletics | Athletic Trainer

Blake is an Athletic Trainer who provides comprehensive health care to our student athletes. Even though it is not required Blake has completed additional training as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). During the Fall of 2018 a student athlete presented with difficulty breathing and stated that he felt as if his throat was closing in. Blake immediately remembered that the student had a history of nut allergies and began the evaluation and treatment for anaphylaxis. Blake’s quick response, recognition of the severity of the medical emergency and effective treatment resulted in saving the life of this student. A delay or failure to take action could have led to a tragic outcome. Blake is always striving to improve the care he provides to student athletes and is willing to go above and beyond.

Efficiency and Innovation

Kerby Smithson

Office of Finance and Administration | Energy Management | Energy Program Coordinator

Generating nearly $500,000 in annual savings for NC State is just another year’s work for Kerby Smithson. Kerby works tirelessly to improve campus through energy reduction projects that not only save energy but further cross-department collaboration on campus energy savings. He’s created the Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer Energy Efficiency Rebate program, incentivizing researchers to use energy efficient equipment, has improved the efficiency of the 1911 Building through innovative window film that preserves the building’s iconic architecture, and upgraded lighting standards resulting in NC State’s first building with 100% LED lighting. Kerby also coordinates the Holiday Energy Savings Initiative, which this year generated nearly $400,000 in savings while campus was closed for winter break. NC State is a better, more efficient campus due to Kerby‘s impact.

Lou Harrison

Office of the Provost | DELTA | Director, Educational Technology Services 

Lou is a founding member of the Open Knowledge Initiative and the use of the open-source learning platform Moodle at NC State. Lou is the “quintessential big picture guy. He anticipates and builds solutions for his audience, across colleges and units. Lou has been heavily involved with learning analytics, using various data that is known about students which helps predict a student’s success in a given course and more importantly, using that data to identify students who may need additional support. He was recently named to the steering team for the Educause Student Success Analytics Constituent Group, a national group brought together to further the use of data to ensure student success. Lou has spoken at engagements related to learning analytics in Edinburgh, Scotland, New Orleans and San Diego.

Outstanding State Government Service

Alex Brininger

Office of Finance and Administration | Facilities- Repair and Renovation  | Roofing and Waterproofing Supervisor

As Supervisor of the Roofing shop, Alex demonstrates outside the box thinking with innovative, cost-saving solutions. Instead of having to replace 2 new roofs, Alex and his crew were able to perform 2 roof overlays with a total savings to the University of approximately $300,000. Exemplifying caring leadership and personal courage, Alex was a source of stability and strength to the roofing shop throughout a tragic incident involving the death of a teammate. Alex provided an emotional foundation for both the shop and the family as he personally spent numerous hours providing support and resource referrals all while maintaining the closeness and cohesion of the team. Alex’s compassion and dedication to his team are the epitome of loyalty and cohesion, a stellar example of leading the Pack.

Spencer Rogers

Office of Research and Innovation | Sea Grant Program | Sea Grant Program Specialist

Serving as North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal construction and erosion specialist for over 40 years, he has provided scientific, research-based information to coastal property owners, government agencies, designers, and building professionals while ensuring that researchers understand and work to address the needs of these coastal stakeholder groups.  He has developed a reputation as a national expert on construction and how natural processes interact with the built environment at the coast.  We estimate that his work, in collaboration with the North Carolina Building Code Council, has produced savings for North Carolina commercial and residential property owners that exceed $1,000,000 annually through reduced insurance premiums.    To improve coastal construction, he has surveyed the impacts of every hurricane and many of the tropical storms in the Atlantic and Gulf coast regions over the past four decades. He has consistently provided leadership at the state, regional, and national levels.

Eve Honeycutt

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences | County Extension- Lenoir | Area Agent

In the fall of 2018, Lenoir County and the surrounding area suffered one of the most devastating floods to date after Hurricane Florence.

As the floodwaters rose, Eve began receiving messages from coworkers and volunteers who wanted to help.Eve quickly realized that she was in a pivotal spot, in the middle of the devastation, yet still fortunate to maintain cell phone and internet services.

Basically, Eve jumped in and became the connector piece for farmers with donations and farmers in need of donations.   And, by her example, she inspired the creation of other supply distribution centers in Onslow, Pender, and Duplin counties, as well as at a research center. A state level effort grew out of a few text messages and one woman’s drive to get things done.

John Garner

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences | Bioenergy Technologies | Research Project Coordinator

John Garner, Superintendent of the NCSU Williamsdale Farm Extension and Research Center, went above and beyond his normal duties during Hurricanes Florence and Matthew. During the first few days after the storm, John was very active on conference calls coordinating the response, despite that fact that his own research station was in peril, and that he had to evacuate his own family.

Throughout the Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael experience, John Garner, became one of the keys in all the response efforts. After the storm he was again called on to help with additional supply distributions because of his willingness and his ability to get a job done.

His ability to connect the dots between the various agencies, commodity groups, farm organizations and community needs allowed many to get help that otherwise would have had to suffer even more than they did.

Public Service

Brian Mathis

Division of Academic and Student Affairs | Leadership and Civic Engagement | Associate Director

Brian Mathis serves the NC State Community in his role as Associate Director of Leadership and Civic Engagement and has been instrumental in shaping and inspiring the shared vision for civic engagement at the University.  Through his work and involvement with the local community, Brian has proven himself as a fiercely committed advocate for civic engagement and social change through his work, which includes assisting with the launch of the first online service platform that connects the NC State Community and local organizations, spearheading the creation of Pack the Polls, and serving as the co-chairperson of the Service Zone at Packapalooza.  Brian’s leadership and vision in the institutionalization of service and engagement has been an invaluable asset to NC State University and the surrounding community.

Travis Sills

Division of Academic and  Student Affairs | Housing Facilities | Regional Facilities Manager

Travis Sills serves as a Regional Facilities Manager within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.  His leadership and dedication go above and beyond what is normally expected from someone in his role and goes even further than the daily maintenance operation of the campus he is responsible for.  In September Hurricane Florence loomed off the NC coast.  Travis immediately began preparing for the storm’s arrival.  Travis and four other staff members stayed on campus to provide immediate response in the event campus was inaccessible.  Although NC State averted the direct hit from Florence, UNC Wilmington took a direct hit.

Travis joined a volunteer team that went to assist in UNCW.  Travis’s knowledge and leadership played a vital role in the team’s efforts to lend a hand to another University.

Crissy Williams

College of Humanities and Social Sciences | Dean’s Office | Executive Assistant

There are few people more dedicated to their work and family than Crissy Williams. She excels at her job and always has a calm, positive demeanor, but her reach extends throughout campus for her creation of a support group for parents of children with special needs. As one of these parents, her initial goal was to solicit help and feedback from others in similar situations, but after she discovered the significant need across campus, it turned into something bigger. She invites various groups to meetings, including the Autism Society, Wake County Schools (to discuss IEPs), and University HR (to discuss FMLA). Other meetings focus on tips for managing home and work lives, helpful resources and simply providing a listening ear. Crissy also mentors students through the work-study program and TRIO, which helps students overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to higher education.

Human Relations

Charles Hall

College of Engineering | Electrical and Computer Engineering | Public Communication Specialist

Charles has rewritten and redesigned all the department’s collateral materials that are used as “sales tools” during Open House. He took the lead on bringing the entire production of the departmental annual magazine, Spotlight, in house and increased distribution to over 2,000 recipients. He also took over the CHARGE website and newsletter which promoted innovative research across the nation. This saved the department approximately $60,000/ year keeping production in house. Charles designed an electronic gallery wall to exhibit the ECE Alumni Hall of Fame, he created the ECE 100th anniversary logo and incorporated it into marketing materials, He is significantly involved with the ECEDHA branding campaign and will be one of the NCSU ECE representatives to present this work at the national 2019 ECEDHA Conference.

Wallace Crumpler

College of Sciences | Biological Sciences | Teaching Technician 

Wall serves in a variety of important roles, including as the capital assets manager and the building liaison for many of the department’s buildings. He also participates in a broad range of training so that he can serve as a reliable source of information about university policies in environment, safety and building operations. He has helped protect expensive laboratory equipment and important samples during floods and power outages, ensuring that the disruption to research is minimal.

In the words of one nominator, “Wall takes every responsibility and request — of which there are so many — as seriously as the next, and doesn’t stop until he knows concerns and problems have been addressed.”