Luther Staff Excellence Award winners announced

Luther College President Paula J. Carlson has announced that staff members Bradley Phillips and Erik Stoen are the 2017-18 recipients of the Luther Staff Excellence Award. Phillips and Stoen were recognized at a ceremony last summer.

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

Phillips, Campus Programming assistant and Box Office manager, has worked at Luther since 1989. Stoen, security officer within Campus Safety and Security, has also been employed at the college for nearly 30 years.

As part of the award, the college funds an individualized educational opportunity for each recipient. 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, Luther music ensemble tours, unique professional development opportunities and 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 committee.

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.

Bradley Phillips

Nearly 30 years ago, Phillips arrived on campus hired on as the Brandt Hall Director. After two years in that role, he transitioned to the Campus Programming office and has been the manager of the Box Office ever since. He has been offered other positions on and off campus but has turned them down because he wanted to stay connected to the arts and to Luther students.

"Luther College—love this place, love the students," said Phillips.

In his nearly three decades of working with students, Phillips has made it a priority to learn students' stories and cultures whether they're from abroad or the U.S.

His nominator said, "Brad is a daily reminder of why we are here. He shows me through action and dedication that students are our thing. They are the reason we are here. The reason we work at this beautiful institution. They are the why!" And continues, "I think where Brad exceeds the most is with our international students. He makes them feel welcome and like they belong. He is their 'Luther Dad.'"

Phillips maintains the students not only are fun and interesting to work with, but they also keep him young. He goes for a weekly run with one of his students—a new connection Phillips has established in the past five years. He started running in 2013 and has since run seven marathons, three 1/2 marathons and countless 5Ks. In 2013, after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, Phillips was motivated to qualify for it the following year, and he did. He ran the Boston Marathon in 2014, 2016 and 2017. 

Luther senior Menzi Nkambule who works in the Box Office with Phillips says, "What makes Brad a great person to work with is that at the office he knows the balance between giving us the autonomy to respond to customer needs as we see fit and giving us support when we need it. In the office, he is our equal, but when I take him for a run, he proves me wrong, pacing like a boss."

As his benefit, Phillips has chosen the January Term 2019 course, Communication and Adventure Recreation in New Zealand, where he'll be able to connect with a whole new set of students and of course, put those running shoes to more good use.

Erik Stoen

Stoen came to the Luther campus in 1988, to work in custodial services, and since then has also served the campus in intercampus mail and as a mover. In 1993, he became a safety and security officer where he has worked since.

When asked what was great about Luther, Stoen replied, "The people. If it wasn't for the students, I wouldn't be here. I've said that for years… even when I was a custodian. When I became a security officer it grew to include faculty and staff."

Stoen's main focus as a security officer is helping students. "The memories that come back are the ones where I know that I helped a student with a difficult issue. One situation in particular comes to mind, where a student was in an extremely bad place… who now is happy, healthy and has two kids," said Stoen.

His concern for student health and safety was noted by his nominator, "Perhaps the most striking aspect of Erik's performance is the genuine concern he consistently shows for students, staff and visitors at Luther. His interest in helping others is clearly present in the effort he puts forth when working with people." His nominator added, "Erik is about more than just maintaining order and security… he has shown a sincere interest in being of service to students and staff alike."

Alumna Tanya (Leake) Anderson, Luther class of 2003, says, "I wouldn't even be here today if it wasn't for Erik. My sophomore year I was in a bad situation with a boyfriend and Erik took me to the hospital. I still check in with him to this day. I have taken my kids back to campus to meet him. We arrived on campus after his shift was over and he came back to campus to meet us. My kids know who he is and he has had a big impact on my family."

Originally, Stoen did not plan on working for Luther very long. In fact, he spoke of his employment at Luther in saying, "My 30th year… and I was only going to be here five years."

Stoen has chosen to the January Term 2019 class English 262: Tolkien and Lewis in Context, in Northern Ireland, England and France, where he'll be able to see Europe through the eyes of two authors.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

Bradly Phillips
Erik Stoen