Two Luther College employees named Staff Excellence Award recipients

June 5, 2012

Luther College President Richard Torgerson has announced that staff members Sherry Alcock and Joni Rollinger are the recipients of the Luther Staff Excellence Award for 2012. Alcock and Rollinger were recognized at the annual Staff Appreciation Day on May 22.

The Staff Excellence Award recognizes exemplary performance by staff members who consistently excel in their positions and demonstrate integrity and a strong commitment to the mission and values of Luther.

Alcock serves as executive director of alumni relations and development services in the college's Alumni and Development Offices. Rollinger serves as employer relations coordinator in the Career Center.

As part of the award, each recipient will be granted an individualized educational opportunity, funded by the college. The college works with award winners to pursue an opportunity in an area of special interest.

Past winners have participated in January-term study-abroad programs, spring break service-learning trips, summer courses off campus, Luther music ensemble tours, unique professional development opportunities, or semester-long courses on campus.

Staff Excellence Award candidates are nominated by their staff and faculty colleagues, and recipients are selected by the college administrative and support staff committees.

Award recipients are chosen for outstanding performance of their professional duties to further the mission of the college. Award winners have consistently performed at a level above and beyond normal job requirements.

Sherry Alcock, a 1982 graduate of Luther, joined the Alumni and Development staff in 1990 as director of alumni relations.  In 2003 she was promoted to the position of executive director of alumni relations and development services.

Alcock heads the 11-person Alumni Relations and Development Services staff and manages all programs and operations for these offices. The Alumni Office schedules, plans and conducts more than 60 events for alumni, parents and friends of the college across the country each year, with a peak of 95 events during the college's Sesquicentennial celebration year in 2011.

She coordinates and oversees the majority of those events, including monthly networking events in the Twin Cities and Des Moines, affinity group reunions and international tours.  She also directs Luther's annual three-day Homecoming attended by more than 2,500 alumni.

These alumni events require timely communications, invitations, speakers, meals, venue arrangements, accommodations, transportation and many other arrangements.  Alcock's award citation lauded her skill and years of success coordinating not only these events but also the dozens of alumni services and programs conducted by her office, frequently on tight time schedules and often with budget, staffing, and logistical challenges.

"Sherry can be counted on to deliver projects on time within a very busy work and travel schedule," states her award citation. "She also plays a critical role assisting the Publications department with the alumni magazine, working with the Career Center to reach out to alumni for assistance with externship, internship and employment opportunities, and coordinating special alumni projects with the Admissions office."

 Her award nomination praised her as "a true advocate for her colleagues and employees," a supervisor who "leads by example with long hours of work" and a staff member who "cares deeply about the college."

Joni Rollinger joined the Luther staff in 1984 as an assistant in the Career Planning and Placement Office. During her years of service in the Career Center she has held several titles and responsibilities. As employer relations coordinator she manages several programs, including on-campus recruiting, job shadowing and mock interviews. She coordinates six Career Fairs each year and works with alumni, faculty, students and employers from across the nation.

Rollinger is a member of several state and national professional associations. She has served as advisor to the Tau Delta Gamma sorority the past 15 years.

Rollinger's award citation praises her years of dedicated work and notes that supervisors and co-workers have called her a key player in the success of the Career Center operations.

The recruiters she brings to campus to interview students for professional positions frequently state their appreciation for Rollinger's efficient, timely and friendly efforts. One wrote, "Joni has coached students and me through six interview processes, where we hired seven students for full-time employment, two interns, and two externs. She does a fantastic job of balancing student and employer needs."

A faculty member related how much potential employers appreciate Luther College's well-organized Career Fairs, and having Joni as the "point person" for those events.

Comments from students who seek Career Center services describe Rollinger as "a delightful, energetic person (who) works positively and effectively. A former supervisor stated, "She far surpasses her counterparts at other colleges. She is a gem!"

A colleague describes Rollinger as the "go to" person in the Career Center for students who want to practice for an interview for a job or grad school.  She developed Luther mock interview program, and researches and adjusts the questions for each student.

One successful student wrote after her practice interview, "It helped calm my fears and gave me the needed confidence for my interview at Mayo. You asked questions that had me thinking a great deal. I got the position - my dream job!"

Alcock and Rollinger will have the opportunity to arrange their Luther Staff Excellence travel or project experience during the 2012-13 academic year.